MK Dons Under-18s surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Luton Town in the Youth Alliance Cup on Saturday.
Goals from Giorgio Rasulo and Kabongo Tshimanga had put the Dons in control just after half-time but despite dominating most of the game, Mike Dove’s side were held to a frustrating point after two second-half strikes from the hosts.
The Young Dons made a strong start to proceedings as they went in search of their second win of this season’s Youth Alliance Cup campaign and they almost took the lead on 13 minutes through a Rasulo free-kick.
The England Under-17 international hit the wall with his initial strike but almost caught the Luton ‘keeper off-guard with a lobbed effort.
Charlie Burns was then called into action seven minutes later to deny the hosts after a miss-placed pass from Aaron Weston. Burns, who would link up with the first-team for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash with Stevenage after the game, pulling off a terrific diving stop to keep the scores at 0-0.
And Burns’ save proved all the more important on the half-hour when Rasulo netted his eighth goal of the season to put the Young Dons ahead - the 16-year-old finishing off a superb passage of play from the visitors with a neat strike into the far corner from the edge of the area.
Dove’s boys remained in control of the match for the remainder of the first half with their composed and patient style of play, much to the delight of their manager who was keen to praise the team at the interval.
And despite a much-improved opening five minutes from Luton at the start of the second half, the Dons extended their lead on 51 courtesy of a well-taken goal from Kabongo Tshimanga.
Luton, though, refused to let their heads drop and they continued to press the Dons in an attempt to get themselves back into the contest.
Dove’s defence did all they could to prevent the Hatters from doing just that, with Burns in particular pulling off a number of important stops, but the two-goal advantage was eventually cut down to one on 59 minutes with a towering Luton header from a corner.
Luton, now sensing a point, reverted to a 3-4-3 formation and their bold move paid off with ten minutes to go after a ball into the box fell free for a Hatters striker who finished past Burns to make it 2-2.
Both sides then had chances to take all three points late-on; the Dons going close through Kelvin Osei-Addo and Weston while the hosts were team were denied a come-from-behind win by another super save from Burns.
Neither team could find a decisive goal, however, much to the frustration of Director of Youth Dove, who spoke to mkdons.com after the game.
He said: “We’re disappointed to have only scored two goals, considering we had just under 20 shots on goal during the game, 10 of which were on target. We need to take our chances when we’re on top, like we were today.
“However, I’m pleased with our possession, our passing and how often we got into the final third. We also showed great composure when they came at us in the second half.”
MK Dons (4-2-3-1): Burns; Vaughan (Grant 70), Hickford (c), Galloway, Tilney; Wiltshire, Weston; Summerfield; Tshimanga, Rasulo, Osei-Addo.
Subs: Taylor (GK), Okito, Daffern, Tingey.