AFC Wimbledon Under-18s marched into the last-16 of the FA Youth Cup with a convincing victory against Hull City tonight.
Early goals from Toby Sibbick and Jayden Antwi (pictured left and right above) put the young Dons well in charge, before Antonio Walker added another nine minutes from time to secure a 3-0 victory.
The reward is a trip to either Preston North End or Everton in the next round of the national competition. Based on the manner of victory tonight against a Premier League club’s academy, anything could be a possibility for a young Dons side growing in confidence all the time.
During the build-up to this match, manager Mark Robinson said that he wanted the young Dons to express themselves on the pitch and they certainly did that early on. AFC Wimbledon’s young talents came out of the blocks quickly with winger Nathan Wood at the heart of it. One of his thrusting runs ended with a shot just over the crossbar as Wimbledon dominated the early exchanges. Anthony Hartigan then put through a lovely ball to pick out Reece Williams-Bowers, but he slipped and the chance was gone.
With such early pressure from the Dons, it was no surprise when the breakthrough came in the 12th minute. It came in great style too with Tom Scott delivering a wonderful diagonal ball from left to right that Toby Sibbick reached before Hull goalkeeper Johnny Saltmer and he produced a clinical finish. There was no sign of Wimbledon settling for just the one with Hull City barely getting out of their own half in the first 20 minutes. A lovely move involving Judah Chapman and Wood ended with Williams-Bowers striking a shot at goal that was saved by Saltmer, before Antonio Walker was also denied.
Wimbledon had the cushion of a second goal in the 29th minute after Chapman was fouled in the box and the only outcome was a penalty. Jayden Antwi stepped up and made no mistake with a well-taken spot-kick to signal ecstatic celebrations from the whole Wimbledon team in front of the John Green Stand. There could have been even more cause for celebration minutes later when Williams-Bowers delivered a fantastic cross across the face of goal, but no one was able to get on the end of it.
With Chapman, Williams-Bowers and Wood providing good support to the tireless running of Antwi up front, Wimbledon continued to keep the pressure on. As the half-time whistle shrilled, it had been an excellent first 45 minutes from the young Dons and the score-line far from flattered them.
Hull City did improve after the break with Wimbledon forced into a sustained spell of defending for the first time. Marc Kelledy fired a shot just over as Hull finally threatened to get back into it. However, Wimbledon continued to show plenty of bright attacking play and it was so nearly 3-0 when Antwi showed a fine turn of foot down the left and fired just wide of the far post. As the second-half wore on, Wimbledon started to regain control. Wood, who impressed all night with his verve and energy on the flank, released Walker and his shot was deflected just over.
An excellent team move from Wimbledon so nearly ended with a third goal 20 minutes from time. Chapman’s vision for a pass again caught the eye as he picked out Walker on the left and his cross was met by Antwi at the back post, but he was unable to keep his header down. As we approached the latter stages, the only criticism of Wimbledon’s performance was that it should have been more. However, Williams-Bowers almost added a third in style when he tried his luck from just outside the area, but the ball drifted wide.
Mark Robinson made his first change in the 71st minute with goalscorer Sibbick replaced by Nick Akoto. Wimbledon continued to look for a third and it came nine minutes from time when substitute Callum Phillip flicked on a cross for Walker and he produced a clinical low finish to earn a goal his performance had deserved. Wimbledon had certainly been full value for a victory which suggests the future is bright for the club.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe Bursik, Nathan Wood (Ethan Nelson-Roberts 86), Paul Kalambayi, Toby Sibbick (Nick Akoto 71), Tom Scott, Sean Bird, Anthony Hartigan, Judah Chapman, Antonio Walker, Reece Williams-Bowers (Callum Phillip 78), Jayden Antwi.