Melton Foxes U18s were caught napping going 2-0 down within 10 minutes before hitting back and more than holding last year’s champions.
The Foxes arrived at high-flying AFC Andrews fresh from a 6-0 win over Loughborough Dynamo and the defence were coping well until the hosts took a rather fortunate lead when a wicked deflection sent the ball past the stranded keeper Chris Lovegrove.
Within two minutes Andrews rocked Melton with a second goal when a break down the right and low cross was missed by the defence and side-footed in from close range.
Foxes hit back with skipper Alex Walker volleying wide from 12 yards and centre-forward Shaun Smith doing likewise after he was played through.
Defences were generally on top with George Wilkinson, Aaron Doherty and Joe Nickolls in great form as the Foxes won three quick corners.
But after 20 minutes the Foxes hit back when Alex Horobin’s towering header through the middle sent Marcus Rowland racing through. The keeper blocked his initial shot, but the striker put the rebound into the empty net.
Three further corners kept Foxes in the hunt, but they were unable to find the vital touch.
Play continued to be very even after the break as the Foxes matched the hosts all the way, and when Rory Gavin put Smith through on the left, the striker blasted wide from a superb position.
Rowland repeated the miss when he blazed wildly over from the edge of the area before Walker and Rowland both had shots charged down.
Andrews were matched tackle for tackle and keeper Lovegrove was a spectator for long periods.
Melton almost engineered an equaliser when a good move down the left saw Gavin put substitute Tom Dryell clear, but the keeper saved his attempted chip.
With time running out and Foxes going all out for an equaliser, the hosts were gifted a ball in midfield and broke clear.
Lovegrove raced off his line, but lost the race and the ball was squeezed past him and then tapped into the empty goal.
Cruel on the Foxes who performed very well, but their forwards will rue missed chances.
Foxes: C. Lovegrove, A. Doherty, J. Nickolls, J. Dawkin, G. Wilkinson, A. Walker, A. Lomas, A. Horobin, R. Gavin, S. Smith, M. Rowland, T. Dryell, C. Ainge.