The young O’s opened the scoring just past the half-hour mark and entered the break with a one-goal lead. However, the Dons found their equaliser in the 57th minute and then their second just minutes later, while later rounding off the scoring with an impressive solo effort.
MK Dons got the proceedings underway in this EFL Youth Alliance League fixture, with the away side kicking from left to right. The O’s started brightly by creating a number of chances, however, it was goalkeeper Sean Campbell that proved his worth.
The Orient man between the sticks made a number of crucial saves during the early periods of the game and demonstrated an air of confidence in and around his penalty area.
With 30 minutes gone, Orient established themselves in the tie by recording the opening goal. An in-swinging cross from Deago Dunbar-Bonnie flashed across the six-yard box and discovered Daniel Nkrumah on the opposite wing.
A winding run from the Orient wide man resulted in Nkurmah being pulled down and the referee pointing to the spot. Matthew Young stepped up and calmly dispatched his effort low to the goalkeeper’s right to provide Orient with the lead.
As the second half commenced, the Dons appeared to have developed in confidence as they started to carve out more threatening chances. Eventually, they broke the deadlock just prior to the hour mark.
The MK Dons defender delivered a lofted ball, in a quarterback-like fashion, to an open man on the right wing. Receiving the ball in space, the Dons full-back drove forward with the ball and crossed it towards the towering forward that finished from close range at the back post.
Now the Dons had found their momentum, a second goal soon followed. In the 61st minute, the MK Dons captain rounded numerous defenders and unleashed his shot towards Sean Campbell. The Orient stopper saved the first effort but was parried into the path of yet another MK Dons attacker who found the back of the net.
The away side rounded off the scoring with around 20 minutes to go, with a MK Dons winger breaking the last line and managed to slot his effort past Campbell to guarantee a 3-1 victory for the visitors.
Following the under-18s defeat, Brian Saah noted that the team’s defensive solidity is something that needs to improve.
“In terms of an overall performance, there are some positives to come out of it, but I think, more importantly, we just need to focus on what we’re doing defensively,” Saah shared.
“We also need to manage the game better. At the end of the day, if it goes to 1-1 – there is still a lot of time to play. But when you concede two or three, it just makes it an uphill task for us really.”
He later added: “It’s definitely a learning curve for the boys.”
After conceding two goals in the space of four minutes, Saah recognised that this was a blow to the team but stated that the young O’s remained determined and fought until the end.
“Conceding goals in such quick succession didn’t help. In fairness to the boys, I don’t think they threw in the towel and they kept going all the way until the end.
“Even though we’ve conceded, that doesn’t mean that everything is all wrong. We just need to be better and regroup and clear our heads.”
The under-18s next fixtures comes next weekend, as they will look to dust themselves ahead of their away trip to Luton Town.
Leyton Orient Starting XI: Campbell, Pegrum, Dungar-Bonnie, Frempong, Apat, Solomon, Nkrumah, Young, Whyte, Mirza, Tanga
SUBS: Eaton, Hunt, Sodje, Staerck, Reindorf