MK Dons bowed out of the FA Youth Cup on Friday night, after 3-1 defeat away at Exeter City.
Rubio’s side included exciting young pro Brandon Thomas-Asante, who netted a hat-trick in the First Round success over AFC Hornchurch.
He started alongside a number of others who have enjoyed first-team action of late and one of those, Andrew Osei-Bonsu, had the game’s first chance six minutes in when he fired over the bar.
Exeter responded with efforts from Collins and Sparkes before the latter found the breakthrough on 27 minutes courtesy of a far-post header which took a deflection on its way past Nathan Pickworth. 0-1.
The Dons, refusing to let their heads drop after the hosts’ opener, went straight on the attack in search of an equaliser and had Peter Kioso been able to find a teammate after his terrific run into the area, they might have found themselves all-square almost instantly.
The torrential rain made things difficult for both sides to fall into any rhythm but the Dons still saw the majority of the ball entering half-time.
However, two minutes into the second period the Grecians doubled their advantage from the penalty spot - captain Smallcombe sending his effort past Pickworth after Sam Nombe’s foul on Sparkes. 0-2.
Two injury stoppages stemmed the flow of the game soon after the but once action properly re-started, the hosts extended their lead further through Collins’ header which found its way over the line despite substitute Oran Jackson’s best efforts to keep it out. 0-3.
Kioso went close to an immediate response with a looping header which Luke Williams brilliantly denied with a palm over his crossbar, before a speculative effort from Jackson, inside his own centre-circle, was also saved by the Exeter keeper 10 minutes later.
Dons’ Pickworth then matched his opposite number for ‘save of the night’ with a terrific stop at his near post to keep out Sparkes’ thumping effort and seven minutes after he saw his side pull a goal back.
Nombe, who played well all night, raced onto a through pass from Bell and sent an unstoppable drive past Williams into the far corner with his right foot. 1-3.
Starting XI: Pickworth; Kioso, Tapp, Omar, Hope (Jackson 46); Kasumu; Osei-Bonsu, Logan (Bell 29), Evans (Stratton 69); Nombe, Thomas-Asante.
Unused subs: Jones (GK), Wright.
Goal: Nombe (84)