AFC Wimbledon Under-18s came so close to their first Football League Youth Alliance victory of the season on Saturday with man of the match Tom Beere almost snatching all three points.
Beere, who struck Wimbledon’s only goal from the penalty spot in a 1-1 draw at Gillingham, rounded the Gillingham goalkeeper near the end, but had his effort cleared off the line. That meant the Dons had to settle for a point, but it was another highly encouraging performance from Wimbledon’s youngsters.
Academy Manager, Mark Robinson, said: “We have had only one defeat in four games now and three of the matches have been away from home. “We are now coming to places like Bournemouth and Gillingham and the fact that the lads are upset with draws is a very good thing. I have told the boys that it is always about their development and if they continue playing like this, the wins will come. It was a very good team performance, but I must mention Charlie Fayers, who was outstanding playing out of position at right wing-back and Tom Beere, who I thought was the best player on the pitch today by some margin.”
Beere and Charlie Fayers offered attacking threat for the Dons before the break with the latter creating a chance for George Oakley, but his well-executed lob was ruled out for offside. Though the visitors fell behind five minutes before the break when Aiden Blanchard struck for Gillingham, they were so nearly level when Beere broke through, but his effort rolled agonisingly wide of the far post.
However, the Dons upped the tempo after the break with Daniel Pearce, Charlie Craig and Chace Jacquart pulling the strings in midfield. After Charlie Fayers had gone close again, Wimbledon’s pressure paid off with the equaliser. Beere’s goal-bound shot was handled by Josh Maughan and AFC Wimbledon’s star man on the day had no hesitation in taking responsibility from 12 yards and equalising from the penalty spot.
The Dons came close to a winner when Owen Roberts headed wide and then Beere’s late effort was cleared off the line by Josh Staunton. Though Wimbledon’s late pressure ended in frustration, their overall performance hinted that an elusive win may be just around the corner.