MK Dons Under-18s played their second game on Spanish soil earlier this week as they faced Rayo Vallecano Under-18s.
Edu Rubio’s side continued their two-week training camp, funded by the League Football Education with a fixture against the Madrid based outfit.
The initiative is fully subsidised by the LFE's Erasmus+ fund and aims to promote development and the exchange of skills and ideas between coaches and players in both countries.
The encounter was played under the searing Spanish sun against a Rayo Vallecano side who regularly go head-to-head with giants of the game, Atletico and Real Madrid.
The game was set-up to favour the hosts, as they looked the play their typical rhythmic passing game, keeping possession in their own half as they looked to build from the wide areas.
Despite the heat, the Dons youngsters set up to keep a block on their Spanish opponents and limit their opportunities – a challenge Rubio had set his side prior to kick-off.
The young Dons stuck to their game plan and limited Rayo to possession on the flank, as they battled in the 32-degree heat as a defensive unit.
Their structure led to a couple of half chances, on 18-minutes, Liam Sole cut inside from the left before playing a one-two with Recoe Martin – his shot was deflected behind for a corner that was cleared by the Vallecano defence.
The Dons continued to show their defensive resilience and wholehearted team-ship as they frustrated the rhythm of Rayo’s passing game on a number of occasions.
On 50-minutes, Vallecano rattled the crossbar, however, Rubio’s side reacted well with Finn Tapp’s powerful header forcing the Rayo keeper into an acrobatic save.
Soon after, Sole then went close with his swerving free-kick hitting the post – and while Sorinola converted the rebound – he was ruled offside.
The Dons continued their pressure and produced their best sequence of the game, the move started at the back before Jay Bird was eventually fouled on the edge of the box – the resulting free-kick grazed the crossbar on the way over.
After showing strong resilience for 70-minutes, Rayo got their breakthrough before doubling their advantage five minutes from time.
Without a doubt, the young Dons can be proud of their performance in the intense heat against a side the worked the ball well.
Interim Academy Manager Simon Dwight told mkdons.com, “'We had our chances and the result could easily have been 2-0 the other way. You see this a lot in football, where the pressure from one team is broken by swift counter attacks with pace and guile, there were moments when we confused and scared Vallecano.
“There is much for Edu and the players to take from this game today. Learning has occurred and the players worked hard in difficult conditions to get a result against this challenge in Madrid.”