Milton Keynes Dons Under-18s were beaten by the odd goal in nine on Saturday morning, at home to an undefeated Colchester United.
Despite a hat-trick from forward Kelvin Osei-Addo (pictured), the Dons suffered a 5-4 defeat on their return to Youth Alliance League action, following a two-week break for the Youth Alliance Cup.
The hosts got off to a disappointing start as they went behind after just 50 seconds. In attempting to pass out from the back, the Dons gave the ball away to visitors forward Tariq Issa who finished low into the net.
The hosts were camped in their own half of the field early on and Colchester's pressure led to a second goal on 17 minutes as the ball came through to midfielder Michall O'Donoghue. Despite Dons keeper Ben Taylor getting two hands to the ball, it wriggled out of his grasp and squirmed into the net.
The Dons, however, were not to be deterred and they pulled a goal back six minutes later. An inch-perfect ball was played through to Osei-Addo and when the Colchester keeper came out to try and smother it, the striker took it around him and finished into the unguarded net to make it 2-1.
Colchester, though, extended their lead just a minute before the break from a throw-in, when number nine Macauley Bonne was left with too much space and placed a shot low into the net to restore the Essex side's two-goal cushion.
The Dons, who had received some strong words from Director of Youth Mike Dove during the break, came out strong at the start of the second half and were close to pulling a goal back on 48 minutes. A free-kick from 20 yards out was taken by Osei-Addo and clipped the outside of the post before bouncing away to safety.
The hosts pressure did eventually tell four minutes later when a corner from the left found captain Harry Hickford, who rose highest to head home powerfully from the penalty spot.
Just five minutes later, the hosts continued their comeback as they found an equaliser when a good run down the right from substitute Jacob Daffern led to a cross into the box which was well finished by Osei-Addo, to level things up at 3-3.
The free-scoring game continued when Colchester retook the lead on 69 minutes after a ball was played through to Bonne inside the box and he finished low into the goal to give the Essex side the lead once again.
The visitors then restored their two goal advantage three minutes later when, after the Dons failed to clear inside their own area, the ball came to Callum Rogers on the edge of the box and he volleyed into the net to make it 5-3.
The Dons weren't done yet and set up a grandstand finish when they awarded a penalty with 11 minutes remaining. The ball was played through to Kabongo Tshimanga who twice held off visiting players, and was given the spot-kick on his second appeal.
Osei-Addo, seeking his hat-trick stepped up and dispatched the penalty convincingly hard and low to the left of the keeper to make it 5-4.
The hosts pushed hard for the leveller in a frantic final ten minutes, coming closest on 89 minutes when Osei-Addo had a double chance. His first shot was blocked by the Colchester keeper, however his follow-up went into the side netting.
Osei-Addo’s off-target effort was the last of a thoroughly entertaining game, in which the Dons could have finished with a share of the spoils after an impressive second-half showing.
After the match Director of Youth Dove said: "We knew Colchester would come at us and start in a very energetic fashion. We gifted them the first two goals which was frustrating.
"I wasn't happy at half-time and I told the boys I expected better. They came out in the second half and responded well to make it 3-3 and played some excellent football.
"I thought Ben Tilney played particularly well but everybody stepped their game up. The two goals we conceded in a few minutes could really have deflated us, but we came back with the penalty and had other chances.
"I'm glad we played our usual style of football, what we consider 'the right way' but we have to cut out giving away cheap goals because that will end up costing us as it did today."
Hat-trick scorer Kelvin Osei-Addo added: "I had mixed emotions at the end. I was happy with my three goals but obviously it was a shame we lost the game.
"I was always going to take the penalty when it came. We had talked about who was on penalty duty earlier in the week and when it was awarded I made sure that nobody else had it."
MK Dons (4-2-1-3): Taylor: Grant (Daffern 45), Tingey, Hickford (capt), Okito (Vaughan 87): Weston, Wiltshire: Summerfield: Tilney, Osei-Addo, Tshimanga.
Subs not used: Van Der Schoot, Collinge, Hunt.
Goals: Osei-Addo 23, 57, 80 (pen), Hickford 52.