Milton Keynes Dons Under-18s started 2017 in disappointing fashion as they let a two-goal lead slip and lost 4-3 to Gillingham at Woughton-on-the-Green on Tuesday afternoon.
The visitors retook the lead early in the second half and despite the Dons squaring the match up again through Thomas-Asante, a late goal gave the Kent side victory.
The Under-18s made three changes from the side that beat Dagenham & Redbridge 8-2 in December with George Rose, Joe Evans and Charlie Patterson replacing Alfie Jones, Juma Omar and Jenson Wright.
It couldn’t have started much better for the Dons as in the sixth minute they took the lead. A through-ball from Andrew Osei-Bonsu found Thomas-Asante on the edge of the area and his firmly struck shot into the centre of the goal made it 1-0.
The hosts could have doubled their lead on 13 minutes as a corner from the right was headed wide by an unmarked Kioso inside the box.
Asante could have doubled the Dons lead midway through the first half after controlling the ball smartly on the edge of the area and beating a defender. However, his shot from a tight angle could only find the side netting.
Four minutes before the break, the dominant Dons doubled their advantage as a corner from the right from Osei-Bonsu found an unmarked Kioso at the far post.
The centre-half was proving an aerial threat from set-pieces throughout and on this occasion his close range header went into the net to make it 2-0.
The visitors got what was to prove a crucial goal just a minute before the break when a deflected effort from the edge of the box looped fortuitously into the net to make it 2-1 at half-time.
The Gills started the second period the brightest and levelled on 50 minutes when a long-range effort from 30 yards out flew into the top corner of the net to make it 2-2.
Three minutes later, the visitors took the lead for the first time when a cross from the right was headed in at the far post by an unmarked Gills player - 2-3.
Straight from the kick-off the Dons went on the attack and a ball in from the right by Sam Nombe was finished by Thomas-Asante for his second goal of the game which made the scoreline 3-3.
After a hectic minute featuring two goals the game continued to be chaotic with neither side keeping hold of the ball for any length of time.
It also became rather fractious with a lot of fouls committed and a few yellow cards were issued as the referee strived to maintain control of proceedings.
The Dons had a chance to retake the lead on 77 minutes when Osei-Bonsu got into the box and through on goal, however he was forced wide and his effort from a tight angle was blocked by a covering Gills player and cleared away from danger.
With eight minutes to go, the Gills took the lead again as an effort from the edge of the box, which may have been deflected, went into the net. This time, the visitors saw the game out to leave the Dons disappointed and defeated.
After the match, Dons director of academy coaching Edu Rubio said: “It was a strange game. We dominated the opening 20 minutes and were excellent.
“At the end of the first half, we let them get a foothold and they got back into it. We started to rush things, lost the ball too easily and made a mistake which allowed them to score.
“The momentum changed after that and they started the second half strongly. After that, for the last half an hour, it was very chaotic with neither side dominating possession or controlling the game. It became very open and either side could have won it but ultimately it was Gillingham who won.
“One of the positives today was that our keeper was an under-15 and we played four under-16s. A lot of their players were second years so it was a credit to our academy that it was such a competitive fixture and could have gone either way.”
Starting XI (3-2-3-2): Rose: Hope, Kioso, Jackson (capt): Kasumu, Patterson (Bird 54): Evans (Wright 54), Osei-Bonsu, Bell: Nombe (Bonsu 60), Thomas-Asante.
Goals: Thomas-Asante 6, 54, Kioso 41.