AFC Wimbledon Under-18s were pegged back by Oxford United on Saturday after another goal from Great Nii-Okai Evans had put them in charge.
Manager Mark Robinson said there were plenty of positives to come out of the 2-2 draw with more players stepping up from younger age groups to gain experience. It also maintained a long unbeaten league run for the young Dons, who have only suffered defeat in the FA Youth Cup during 2017 so far.
The first half on Saturday was very even in the early stages with both sides threatening out wide. It was Oxford who took the lead in the 28th minute after Wimbledon failed to clear their lines adequately. However, a big response followed from Wimbledon and it was 1-1 in the 28th minute when Reece Weekes won a corner, which was delivered by Anthony Hartigan, and Osaze Urhoghide headed home superbly.
The Dons enjoyed the better of the play after drawing level and it was 2-1 in style six minutes before half-time. A brilliant ball by Reece Weekes released Evans, who beat his marker for pace and expertly lobbed the goalkeeper from 18 yards. The goal made it two in two games for Evans (pictured).
Wimbledon started the second-half well and the excellent Ethan Nelson-Roberts came close to extending the lead, before Evans and Tino Carpene came close to a third. The Dons made further changes, giving game-time to younger players. Though they equipped themselves well, Oxford gained more momentum and earned an equaliser 19 minutes from time when the Dons got caught out of position from a cross.
Both teams had chances to win the game and Jack Wingate was required to make an outstanding save with two minutes to go.
Mark Robinson said: “It is very difficult to play a passing game on our pitch at the moment because it is incredibly dry and bobbly. Though I always want us to mix-up our football, we were too direct at times. The goals we conceded were disappointing as they are the basics that we had been doing well for months. Development-wise, there were plenty of positives, despite dropping two points. All the U-16 lads did well and I got to learn a little more about them. An U-14 player also got 15 minutes, which is another milestone for our academy and the lad did very well".
Man of the Match for AFC Wimbledon was Rueben Collins.