Tommy Blennerhassett’s brace accompanied by a clean-sheet allowed the young dons to claim a 2-0 victory over Rotherham United at Stadium MK in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup Final tie.
The opening stages of the cup final didn’t show any signs of a cagey affair. Oppositely, a plethora of action was seen within the opening stages, which saw set-pieces at either end of the field.
The action didn’t seem to settle, and MK Dons made use of the sharp start to score the opener within six minutes of the game beginning. A brilliantly worked attack from the home side saw the ball find Daffern on the by-line before the number ten cut it back to locate Tommy Blennerhassett for an open net finish. 1-0
On the 20-minute mark, Daffern was inches away from doubling the young Dons’ advantage, but the Rotherham shot-stopper narrowed down the angle and made himself big enough to turn away Ed’s chipped attempt.
An early set-back only seemed to encourage the Millers more to advance their way up the field in an effort to equal the score-line once more. Jake Champion came close to an equaliser as he attempted to catch out Sandford at his near-post. The goalkeeper was aware of the danger and turned behind the shot for a corner, which MK Dons dealt with.
Seven minutes prior to the interval, Joel Anker looked in a great position to double the Dons’ lead, only for his strong effort to be well-matched by Nat Ford in between Rotherham’s sticks. Joshua Adepoju then followed up on the chance, but his goal-bound strike was headed clear of the target.
John Bitting’s boys continued to push for their second of the match. An attack mounted moments before the break saw the ball deflect into Blennerhassett’s path, who directed the ball goalward. An incredible reaction stop from Nat Ford denied the forward his first-half brace.
Before the minute of injury time added on at the end of the first 45 minutes, Joel Anker had located the back of the net. However, the linesman deemed the number eight to be in an offside position, thus the goal was ruled out.
MK Dons led 1-0 through Tommy Blennerhassett’s early opener as the referee signalled for half-time.
The start of the second 45 stage replicated that of the first, with a sharp start from both sides. This electric beginning to the second-half gave Joel Anker the opportunity to play the ball through to Kyle Boyce on the left-flank.
Boyce then fired the ball into Blennerhassett, who intelligently adjusted his body to try and guide the ball into the net, but Rotherham’s ‘keeper produced another great stop to tip the looping effort over the bar.
Set-pieces were a plenty throughout the second-half, but both teams were stubborn in their defensive efforts, which didn’t see may chances from a dead-ball position. However, a corner-kick just ahead of the hour-mark located Waller, but his attempt was blocked before it could reach the desired target.
68 minutes into the fixture, MK Dons had found the second goal that they had worked so hard to achieve. Joshua Adepoju and Tommy Blennerhassett showed great tenacity to force a turnover high-up the field, there was a lot of work still to be done, but a composed Blennerhassett gained his brace with a well-placed chip over Rotherham’s shot-stopper. 2-0
The number nine’s double allowed the home side the breathing room they needed to gain comfort within the closing stages of the match. Only minutes remained before MK Dons could get their hands on silverware, but there was still work to be completed before they could get to that stage.
Despite their best efforts it didn’t seem that Rotherham were going to penetrate the Dons defence. Sandford made another vital reaction stop to sustain his clean-sheet late on. Some stonewall defending from the back-line continued until the final whistle.
MK Dons’ hard-work at both ends of the field supported their 2-0 victory over Rotherham United. Tommy Blennerhassett’s brace accompanied by a clean-sheet allowed the young Dons to lift the EFL Youth Alliance Cup.
MK Dons: Sandford, Wood, Boyce (Scholtz 63), Tripp, Anderson, Waller (C) (Lucas 63), Bombo, Anker, Blennerhassett, Daffern (Mann 83), Adepoju (Stirland 70)
Goals: Blennerhassett 6 68
Yellow cards: Anker 20
Rotherham United: Ford, Shepard, Jenkinson, Douglas, Day, Abraham, Champion, Hatton, Holvey (Clark 70) (C), Grove (Ayres 45), Seisay (Roddis 89)
Subs: Mare, Hamilton
Yellow cards: Clark 79