MK Dons Under-18s were left to reflect on missed opportunities as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to Northampton Town in their second match in the Youth Alliance Cup.
After a 2-1 win on the road against the same opponents last week in the League, Mike Dove's side were unable to repeat the victory despite naming an unchanged starting XI.
The visitors took the lead after 13 minutes with the first clear chance of the match when the powerful Kieran Fitzgerald was found unmarked inside the box. After the ball was played through to the number nine, he turned and fired the ball low into the goal and out of Dons keeper Charlie Burns' reach.
Fitzgerald was the visitors’ outstanding player and on 28 minutes he forced Burns into action again, when he shot from a tight angle, however the Dons goalie was able to tip the ball wide of the goal.
The Dons were gradually finding their feet in the game, and just moments later they almost hit back when Will Summerfield's shot was deflected just wide of the left hand post.
The home side’s best chance came on 38 minutes, when the ball found a route through to Kelvin Osei-Addo inside the box, however his shot hit the crossbar before rebounding to safety.
After the break, the Dons continued to create chances but were unable to find the breakthrough, with Kabongo Tshimanga and Osei-Addo both having good chances to draw the hosts level.
Northampton continued to pose a threat as they pushed for the crucial second goal, and their number 10 came particularly close on 70 minutes when he picked up the ball outside the area, ran into the box and hit a right footed shot, which clipped the post before rebounding to safety.
The hosts were adopting a more patient approach in this match as they passed the ball around on the edge of the penalty area and sought an opening. When one came on 78 minutes the ball found its way through to Brendan Galloway on the penalty spot, however he could only poke the chance wide of the right post.
The Dons best chance arrived on 81 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after a foul on Tshimanga. Giorgio Rasulo stepped up to take the spot-kick however his effort, struck at a nice height to the keeper's left was parried away.
After the match Dons captain Harry Hickford said: "I thought the lads played well and tried hard. Northampton were really difficult to break down. We were patient, we had good spells and chances to win the game but it just wasn't our day."
Dons Director of Youth Dove added: "It was a good challenge for us today because it benefits the lads to sometimes play against teams like Northampton who get more men behind the ball.
"I was pleased that the boys were patient and kept the ball. However we suffered with some of our passing and technique today and we were a bit sloppy at times. It was a difficult game, but we will look back and pinpoint how we can improve for the future."
MK Dons (4-2-1-3): Burns: Daffern, Galloway, Hickford (capt), Okito (Tilney 55): Weston, Wiltshire: Summerfield: Tshimanga, Rasulo, Osei-Addo (Vaughan 67).
Subs not used: Taylor, Tingey.
Booked: Tshimanga 84.