DONS’ FA Youth Cup adventure is over for another year after the club’s young stars were outgunned by their Stevenage counterparts in a 6-2 defeat at stadium:mk on Saturday.
Dons’ youngsters, who had previously won at Hereford United to reach the second round, dominated much of the first half but were punished for some poor defending, and it’s Stevenage who go through to host Wigan Athletic in the third round next month.
Dons and Stevenage – first round conquerors of Luton Town – had already met twice this season, winning one game apiece in the Youth Alliance League and Cup respectively. Dons had won the most recent meeting, but this time it was Stevenage who had the edge over Mike Dove’s side, despite the home side fielding four of their academy stars who were involved in Dons’ FA Cup second round win against Cambridge City on Tuesday night.
One of those, Giorgio Rasulo, enhanced his reputation by scoring both Dons goals, but it wasn’t enough as Stevenage took their second half chances to make the game safe, after netting twice from corners before the break.
Dons enjoyed the majority of possession in the early stages but fell behind after eight minutes when Fejiri Okenabirhie bundled the ball home from a corner after Dons failed to clear.
The home side were deservedly level on 20 minutes thanks to Rasulo’s first goal as he tapped in from close range after good play down the right wing from Jon Osae. But that was all they had to show for dominating much of the first 45 minutes.
Dons keeper Charlie Burns pulled off a couple of good saves from distance to deny twice Stevenage around the half hour mark. But it was from the resulting corner of the second stop that Stevenage retook the lead as Dons again failed to deal with a good delivery into the box and this time Jo N’Guessan headed into the net.
Kelvin Osei-Addo went close for Dons via a free-kick on the edge of the Stevenage penalty area, but the visitors held on to take a slender lead in at the break.
But the visitors posed more of an attacking threat in the second half and went 3-1 in front when a good ball in behind the Dons defence put N’Guessan through on goal, and he took his time before finishing neatly past Burns for his second of the game.
Dele Alli showed a few glimpses of the talents he demonstrated for Dons’ first-team in midweek, and helped set up a chance for Will Summerfield who forced a good save out of Stevenage keeper Charlie Horlock.
Dons reduced the deficit thanks to another neat finish from Rasulo with a quarter of an hour to play, but Stevenage made the game safe when Spencer McCall took advantage of some hesitant defending to finish neatly for 4-2.
And there was still time for another two Stevenage goals courtesy of Ryan Towner, whose terrific curling effort beat Burns, and substitute Brandon Dujon with the final kick of the game.
Other than failing to defend from corners, Dons were excellent in the first half and didn’t deserve to be trailing at the break. However, Stevenage were a different side after the interval and some quality finishing eventually proved the difference.