U-16s host international friendly game
AFC Wimbledon Under-16s came so close to pulling off a gallant fightback in an entertaining international friendly match against Norwegians Tromso.
The Dons suffered a 2-1 home defeat, but they certainly performed with credit against a side who beat Monaco and also ran Athletico Madrid close during their summer tour.
With five of Tromso’s squad having earned selection for Norwegian youth squads, they were always going to provide tough opposition and so it proved yesterday. The visitors were in front inside a minute when Wimbledon failed twice failed to clear their lines and Sondre Olsen drilled home a superb strike from an acute angle. It was 2-0 after 10 minutes when Patrick Braathen headed home from close-range after getting on the end of a free-kick.
At this stage, a Tromso side managed by former Crystal Palace academy coach Callum McFarlane were threatening to score more goals and make it a tough afternoon for the Dons.
However, Wimbledon started to come back into it as the first-half progressed with striker Tino Carpene, a prolific scorer at youth level in recent seasons, twice denied by the Tromso goalkeeper.
Despite their improvement, half-time offered a chance to regroup and Under-16s coach Michael Hamilton’s team-talk clearly paid off after the break. Less than 60 seconds into the second-half and the Dons were back in it. Reece Williams-Bowers, who turned down interest from Fulham two years ago, won a penalty and picked himself up to convert from 12 yards.
With Luke Massey offering excellent distribution in the centre of the park and both Williams-Bowers and Carpene causing problems, it was a completely different second-half. Massey took matters into his own hands and nearly broke through after an excellent solo run and Carpene curled a fine effort just wide.
Though Wimbledon did not quite finish the job, they could take plenty of encouragement from their overall display and there was also the bonus of one or two trialists showing up well in defeat.
Michael Hamilton said: “There were many positives to take against a strong Norwegian side. Conceding goals so early affected our confidence and we were rushing decisions and conceding possession too early. The second-half was so much better because we kept it simpler and with that our confidence grew. We imposed ourselves on the game, our decision-making was better and unfortunate not to earn a draw in the end.
“Tromso recently competed in an international tournament and were only beaten 3-2 by Athletico Madrid. Facing talented teams can only be good for the development of our squad. We ended the match with six Under-15s and an Under-14 on the pitch so it was good experience for these boys. The second-half was a reflection of the performances that I see on the training pitch and I want the boys to build on that in terms of moving forward.”