AFC Wimbledon Under-18s manager Mark Robinson said that hard work on the club’s youth structure paid dividends last night with a convincing FA Youth Cup victory against Hull City.
The introduction of a development squad in recent years offered Under-18s more experience at a higher level and has also meant that younger academy players are pitched in above their age groups.
Speaking during a post-match interview after last night’s win, Mark Robinson said: “We have an Under-21s squad now with Paul Kalambayi and Toby Sibbick playing regularly and Alan Reeves has been taking five or six for every game. That has meant I’ve had younger players on a Saturday.
“Results have been up and down, but those younger players are obviously getting better all the time and the lads with ‘Reevesy’ are getting better all the time. When you bring them all back together, this is what you get. I kept saying it would come good because I could see signs. It was just naivety earlier in the season. We beat Orient on Saturday with only five of the lads who started tonight and we managed to get results in both matches.
“Tonight was all about winning, but the rest of it is about development. With the kids here watching tonight, we probably had around 800 in total, which is brilliant. I hope the fans really enjoyed it and as I said beforehand, fingers-crossed that the manager has seen some potential. I am hoping that’s the case.
"I thought there were some really good individual performances out there and collectively they were excellent. They showed that they understand team shape and things like that. I am really pleased. No disrespect to Hull, but I don’t think they could cope with us tonight. The 3-0 score-line did not flatter us and it could have been five or six. That’s full credit to the boys because I thought they were excellent.”
Click on Cup Glory to watch the full interview with Mark Robinson on our official You Tube channel.
Reward for AFC Wimbledon Under-18s is a trip to Preston North End of Everton in the next round. Listen to what the boys think about that prospect in an interview on our official You Tube channel (via the link above) with Sean Bird, Jayden Antwi and Judah Chapman talking to WDON’s Rob Cornell afterwards.
Many of last night’s squad have been with AFC Wimbledon’s academy for a long time, but defender Sean Bird only joined the Dons last year after the closure of Brentford’s academy. Sean has loved every minute of being at our academy – and he certainly enjoyed the celebrations after victory last night!
“It was crazy,” said Sean. “Music was banging, everyone was singing, and pizza was flying everywhere! It was top drawer. Following the closure at Brentford, I was looking around and I had a chat with Wimbledon. The atmosphere was brilliant and I loved the feeling in the changing room. I was very happy to come here and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
All at AFC Wimbledon congratulate academy staff and players for another fantastic achievement after reaching the last-16 of the FA Youth Cup for a second successive season.