After a tremendous Youth Alliance Cup campaign, the Under-18s were beaten in the national final by Oldham Athletic at their SportsDirect.com Park.
Andrew McCorkell was the first keeper called into action, thwarting striker Jordache Walters at his feet after he broke into the Dons’ area.
McCorkell made another good save on seven minutes when he pushed Jack Tuohy’s low drive around the post after the Latics had got in behind.
Walters flashed two 20-yard efforts wide of the target shortly afterwards as the hosts carried the greater offensive threat in the opening exchanges.
McCorkell made a double save on 14 minutes to deny the lively Walters while, at the other end, the Oldham keeper Paul Tyson was alert to gather in front of Laurence Vaughan.
Ben Tilney dragged an effort wide three minutes later after a neat one-two with Kabongo Tshimanga, who was then brilliantly denied by Tyson from 12 yards following good work down the left by Tilney.
That sparked the men from MK1 into life going forward and three superb blocks denied Tilney (twice) and Kyran Wiltshire in quick succession, which followed the hosts hitting the crossbar through Ben Grant.
Now end to end, Giorgio Rasulo produced an exquisite Cruyff turn to get away from his marker but he couldn’t quite keep his curling effort down from 25 yards.
However, it was the Latics who took the lead on 26 minutes when Grant headed home Eddie Fulwood’s cross in off the crossbar.
The battle between McCorkell and Walters continued in the 35th minute when the Dons’ keeper pulled off two smart saves to deny the striker.
Luke Tingey was presented with a good opportunity to level matters five minutes before the break when a cross-cum-shot fell to the centre-back, but he shot straight at Tyson.
Dove’s side were awarded a spot-kick on 44 minutes when George Edmondson handled in the box, but Tshimanga saw his strike saved from 12 yards.
The last action of a hugely-entertaining first half saw Edmondson crash a close-range header against the bar as the Latics threatened to double their advantage.
Despite the Dons’ impressive start to the second half, they went 2-0 down when Grant guided a loose ball into the bottom corner on 54 minutes.
Devante Jacobs curled home a beautiful 25-yard free-kick to make it 3-0 on 63 minutes before Callum Scullion headed a corner against the bar shortly afterwards.
A fantastic tackle from Joe Steele denied Walters a clear shooting opportunity with just over 15 minutes remaining, but there was nothing the Dons could do on 77 minutes to stop Callum Etches, who fired a stunning free-kick past McCorkell from 30 yards.
The final whistle sounded to conclude the Dons’ 2014/15 campaign – one which they finished second in their league, reached the third round of the FA Youth Cup and were finalists in the Youth Alliance Cup.
MK Dons: McCorkell; Daffern, Tingey, Steele (Hunt 80), Okito (c): Hadden, Wiltshire; Vaughan (Brittain 67), Rasulo, Tilney; Tshimanga.
Unused subs: Wyant, Owusu, Furlong.