MK Dons Under-18s comfortably saw-off Crawley Town 4-2 last Saturday morning, in their final away league game of the season.
Mike Dove’s side, who had one just once in 2014 heading into the clash, took all three points thanks to a brace from Kabongo Tshimanga (pictured), Ben Tilney's volley and an own goal.
The Under-18s made the journey to Sussex without first-team call-ups Brendan Galloway, Giorgio Rasulo and Charlie Burns as well as Will Summerfield, who was injured.
The Dons were also without Head Apprentice Harry Hickford, who is currently on loan at Chelmsford City, which meant defender Remy Forrester, the team’s only second-year scholar, donned the captain’s armband and he led by example throughout.
Keen to return to winning ways, the Dons went close in the 12th minute when Tshimanga shot wide of the right-hand upright from just inside of the box.
The Dons’ encouraging start continued but, 19 minutes in, they fell behind against the run of play after goalkeeper Wim Van Der Schoot dwelled on the ball just a little too long and allowed the lurking Reds striker a simple finish.
Without a win in their last three games, the Dons could have been forgiven for letting their heads drop but instead they went in search of an equaliser which they eventually found 10 minutes later courtesy of Tshimanga.
The first-year scholar latched onto Ben Tilney’s clever pass before rounding the on-rushing ‘keeper and slotting home.
In the 33rd minute, the Dons took the lead through winger Tilney, who did excellently to control Laurence’s Vaughan’s chipped pass and volley past the Crawley goalie.
Dove’s side then doubled their advantage on the brink of half-time with Tshimanga getting on the scoresheet once again, this time with a simple finish after being played through by Tilney.
Urged to keep the pressure up in the second half by their manager, the Dons made a solid start to the second period.
Mid-way through the half, Dove introduced schoolboys Jack Hadden and Joe Steele in an effort to increase the scoreline and it was through the latter’s deflected shot that the side did exactly that on 77 minutes.
With the result in the bag, the visitors appeared to take their foot off the gas and in stoppage time Crawley reduced the deficit to two goals from a corner which the Dons failed to deal with.
Speaking after the game, Director of Youth Dove told mkdons.com: “We need to start being more ruthless when we’re getting into these situations.
“We seem to settle for 4-1 after scoring that fourth goal when really we need to keep going, just like other sides have been doing to us.
“At the end of the day it was a good, positive last away win but from a developmental point of view I wanted the players to recognise that, that was an opportunity for a bigger win.”
MK Dons: Van Der Schoot; Daffern, Collinge, Forrester (c), Okito; Tingey; Wiltshire, Weston; Vaughan (Hadden 68) Tshimanga, Tilney (Steele 70)
Subs not used: None
Goals: Tshimanga 29, 45, Tilney 33, O.G. 77