MK Dons suffer 4-2 defeat to Aston Villa U21s in Papa John's Trophy

    Image Credit: Milton Keynes Dons Football Club

    Milton Keynes Dons suffered a 4-2 defeat to Aston Villa Under-21s as the group stages of the Papa John's Trophy came to a close at Stadium MK.

    Both sides had qualified for the knockout stages of the competition after claiming victories over both Burton Albion and Wycombe Wanderers respectively, but it was the Premier League club's youth side that go through as group stage winners.

    The two sides opened the match brightly, both progressing into the attacking third with purpose, with the visitors getting an early shot through Carney Chukwuemeka.

    Franco Ravizzoli was forced into making a strong save less than ten minutes into the match, palming a low shot into the ground before coolly collecting the rebound with Keinan Davis lurking at close range.

    Max Watters earned the Dons' first real challenge of the night, receiving a clean pass from Josh Martin inside the visitors' box, getting a side-footed effort away but seeing it go wide.

    It was Aston Villa's Under-21s side that opened the scoring, however, with experienced Premier League player Keinan Davis out-pacing Zak Jules after a mistake by Booklyn Ilunga, getting a calm shot beyond the reach of Ravizzoli and striking the far corner of the net.

    The Dons were down for long, with Troy Parrott smashing the ball into the net just minutes after the opening goal to bring the sides back level at 1-1.

    A neat pass from Josh Martin, who received a perfect through ball from Hiram Boateng, inside the Villa box set the Republic of the Ireland international up, with plenty of space to unleash his full effort at goalkeeper Viljami Sinisalo.

    The Dons were unlucky not to take the lead minutes later, when both Parrott and Max Watters were denied by Sinisalo from close range as the League One club looked to put pressure on their young opponents.

    Liam Manning's side were rewarded for their efforts in the 25th minute after Max Watters tapped in his shot from close range.

    Parrott began the play with a beautiful back-heel pass to Hiram Boateng on the left, with the midfielder whipping in a perfectly placed, low cross to the charging Watters who needed to simply get a touch to it inside the six-yard box.

    The visitors pulled things level once more just before half-time, with Keinan Davis picking out Cameron Archer inside the Dons' six-yard box, with the young Villa man heading the ball into the back of the net and sending his side into the break tied with their League One opposition.

    Much of the opening five minutes of the second half revolved around the Dons box, with the visitors putting plenty of pressure on the home side, but with no results.

    The Dons then pushed forward through a smart bit of play from Parrott, who invited a sliding challenge but managed to lift the ball away from the defender and get a cross into the box, seeing Sinisalo claim it before any Dons players could get close.

    Archer saw a shot dragged wide of the post ten minutes into the second half, following up on an earlier free kick chance the visitors sent directly into Ravizzoli's hands.

    The increased pressure from Aston Villa was rewarded with their third goal coming through Aaron Ramsey, who was on hand to tap-in the rebound from Keinan Davis' shot, which bounced off the underside of the crossbar and directly into the path of the midfielder.

    In Parrott's last moment of the match, he earned his side a free kick and then came close to scoring a second of the night, seeing his effort hit the crossbar before being subbed for Mo Eisa in the 66th minute.

    The tempo of play subdued significantly following Parrott's departure, neither side looking like scoring until Josh Martin got a shot off from the edge of the box in the 88th minute, seeing his effort go narrowly wide.

    The match was put out of the Dons' reach as the visitors netted in the 90th minute, Cameron Archer getting his second of the game to put the visitors through as group winners.

    MK Dons Line-Up: Ravizzoli, Martin, Watson, Baldwin, Ilunga (87' Johnson), Jules, McEachran, Boateng (78' O'Riley), Parrott (66' Eisa), Brown, Watters

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