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U18S REPORT: MK Dons 1 Cambridge United 0

25 February 2016

Match Report - MK Dons U18s 1-0 Cambridge Utd U18s

The U’s suffered a last minute defeat at MK Dons in a highly competitive game on Saturday morning in The Youth Alliance Merit League 2.

United fielded a younger side than the previous weekend at Swindon Town, having arranged work experience agreements with the second year scholars with various clubs in the local non-league pyramid. A number of under 16s joined the first year scholars in the team as next year’s youth team begins to take shape.

MK Dons started strongly in a 3-2-3-2 system that caused the scholars problems throughout the morning as MK looked to dominate possession and stretch the United team at every opportunity. United took a while to get to grips with the style of the hosts, but had the best opportunity of the first half in the opening minute, Matt Foy hitting the crossbar at the second attempt, after his initial effort was saved. 

The hosts had the lion’s share of possession in the first half with the U’s looking to counter attack and doing so effectively on a number of occasions. It was the hosts who looked the most dangerous however, and they had a number of attempts at goal that either missed the target or were comfortably saved by James Macree.

The second half saw United under pressure as they defended deeper to try to limit the space for MK Dos to exploit and despite their dominance with the ball, they were becoming frustrated as they found it increasingly difficult to carve out any chances of note. Shots from outside the box were wayward, and crosses from wide areas often well cleared.

The sheer weight of pressure did tell in the dying stages though, as a cross from the right hand side landed between the two central defenders only to be poked home by the somewhat surprised Dons striker.  

United’s resolve was broken as the final seconds ticked by and were undone as a hard fought point was snatched from them by the ruthless hosts.

Mark Bonner said: “It was a tough game for us against a physically strong team, who play with an identity befitting their club. They got the ball rolling well and we struggled with their formation early on. We were wasteful in possession today, as we turned the ball over too quickly on the regain. This often happens when you have a compact shape and defend for long periods, as the spring to an attacking shape becomes slow and there are few options to keep possession.

“We should have taken the lead but had few other chances throughout, our defensive shape was good in the second half and we frustrated them. We blocked, intercepted and increased the intensity of our pressing, also keeping more compact and giving them less room to rotate and move. In the end we couldn’t see it through and lost the game. It happens.

“This is the start of next season’s team as we integrate lots of the younger players and continue to look at other boys released from elsewhere. I’m looking forward to seeing them develop in the final 10 games of the season and start to form an identity ahead of the new season.

“For the first year scholars it is good for them to now pass on their experience to the under 16s and take some responsibility and leadership in forming that identity and implementing our playing philosophy.”

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