MK Dons Under-18s had to settle for a share of the spoils in their latest Youth Alliance League match after they conceded two late goals at home to Southend United.
Eduardo Rubio made four changes from the side that beat Northampton 4-3 at home the previous weekend, with Alfie Jones, Tommy Hope, David Kasumu and Brandon Thomas-Asante being replaced by Nathan Pickworth, Harry Stratton, Finn Tapp and Recoe Martin.
The game started brightly with both teams hitting the post early on. In the fifth minute good play on the right hand side for the Dons allowed Martin to strike a shot from just outside the box which cannoned off the right hand upright.
Three minutes later the Shrimpers had an effort from a similar distance on the left edge of the box which also ricocheted off the post.
Soon after the hosts took the lead as a long ball forward caused confusion in the Southend ranks between the keeper and a defender. The ball came to Nombe on the edge of the area and he was able to roll it into an unguarded net. 1-0.
The woodwork was hit again in the 14th minute as the Dons were given another warning of the visitors’ threat, as a rising effort from about 30 yards out smacked the crossbar before going over.
Chances continued to come for the Dons and four minutes later the lively Martin had a shot from inside the area smothered by the Shrimpers keeper before an unmarked Bradley Bell slid the ball just wide of the post from inside the box.
Five minutes before the break, Rubio’s side survived another scare from a set-piece. After a corner from the left a shot was blocked from close range before there was a goalmouth scramble and the Dons managed to clear the danger.
The home side enjoyed the best possible start to the second period as they deservedly doubled their lead when a cross from the left was well-finished by Nombe, who managed to work himself space inside the box. 2-0.
Chances were at a premium for long periods in the second half as the game was broken up by substitutions and fouls, as well as the rain which started to fall making for a scrappier affair.
The visitors reduced their arrears in the 80th minute when they worked space on the edge of the area and a Shrimpers player hit a low shot into the left corner of the net. 2-1.
The Dons found themselves under increasing pressure and for the second week in a row there was a late twist. In the 90th minute a Southend player picked up the ball about 25 yards out and his firmly-struck effort whistled past the keeper and into the back of the net to make it 2-2.
After the match, head of academy coaching Rubio said: “The first half was very good. The boys did what we asked them to do in that they didn’t concede and kept possession well.
“In the second half, especially in the last 20 minutes, Southend pushed up and we lost our composure and shape – that was why we conceded two goals and it ended in a draw.
“It is another learning curve as regards how to manage and stay in a game. We have to learn how to deal with difficult moments in a positive way.
“Now we are going to go back on to the training pitch and try and work on keeping our tempo in games, and finishing the game better.”
Starting XI (4-3-3): Pickworth; Kioso (Robinson 74), Tapp, Omar, Stratton; Logan (c) (Evans 55 (Freeman 85)), Osei-Bonsu, Bell; Martin, Asonganyi, Nombe.
Unused subs: Jones (GK).
Goals: Nombe (11, 47).
Referee: Phil Miles.