The Dons’ Under-15s put in a spirited performance against Arsenal on Wednesday night, in front of 2,554 supporters at stadiummk.
Importantly, though, the young Dons got a taste of stadium action for the first time – an experience that will no doubt help them on their quest to become professional footballers at MK1.
The Dons’ starting XI included goalkeeper Nathan Pickworth, who has recently been away on international duty with Wales Under-15s. In front of him was the imposing Finn Tapp - he captained the side.
The first shot of the came courtesy of the boys from MK1 eight minutes in – Bradley Bell forcing a good save out of Arsenal keeper Jordan Perrin with a low effort from the edge of the box.
Striker Dylan Asonganyi then fired wide of the target before keeper Pickworth pulled off a great diving save from a stinging shot to prevent the Gunners taking the lead.
Arsenal came forward once again in the 20th minute but Pickworth was brave to dive at the feet of Nathan Tormey and deny the midfielder a chance on goal.
The Gunners, though, broke the deadlock just a few seconds later when Emile Smith-Rowe drove into the penalty area and beat Pickworth with a neat finish from a tight angle. 0-1
Dons came close to an immediate response through Seyi Olukayode but, after beating the offside trap, he was quickly closed down by Perrin.
Bell then fired over from 25-yards as the Dons refused to be deterred by the visitors’ opening goal.
With 33 on the clock, Arsenal doubled their advantage after Trae Coyle forced his way past two Dons defenders and then lifted a shot over Pickworth – a brilliant solo goal from the young Gunner. 0-2
Kirby’s team pushed forward in search of reducing the deficit before half-time and they almost did so through the impressive Bell but his ranging effort was saved and held well by Perrin.
Eight minutes into the second period, Daniel Daffern came within a whisker of pulling a goal back but his low show dragged just wide of the right post.
Pickworth then produced an excellent reflex save to keep out substitute Max Sheaf’s header, however he would later to be beaten by the Gunner schoolboy, although there wasn’t much he could have done to keep out the unstoppable drive from distance. 0-3
To the Dons’ credit they refused to let their heads drop and they had chances to reduce the deficit through Joe Evans and Olukayode.
It was Arsenal, though, who had the final say in the closing stages through Henry Wise, son of Dennis, who slotted past Pickworth to seal the victory for his side. 0-4
Starting XI (3-4-1-2): Pickworth; O’Neill (Allen 62), Tapp (c), Weatherhead (Martin 41); Evans, Beckinsale (Mcelroy 49), Kasumu, Daffern (Shortland 54); Bell; Olukayode, Asonganyi.
Unused subs: Newbert (GK)