Under-18s in gallant defeat v Watford
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s paid the price for missed chances as they slipped to defeat at Watford on Saturday, but manager Mark Robinson was in upbeat mood about his side’s overall display.
Taking on a Championship club’s academy with plenty of bright talents, including Tom Rosenthal, a Belgian U-18 international who is the son of former Liverpool forward Ronny, it was always going to be a tough ask for Wimbledon, but they emerged with credit in the 2-0 defeat.
The young Dons missed a host of chances and it could have been a completely different story if Dan Agyei’s header had been a few inches lower as his effort thudded against the crossbar and Ben Harrison’s brilliant strike was ruled out for offside.
Mark Robinson said: “The boys are very upset that they lost the game, but I feel very different about it in comparison with our defeat against Northampton a couple of weeks ago. We were taking on an academy that has earned an excellent reputation, but in the first-half I thought we were the better side, albeit without putting the ball in the net. Though we started the second-half brightly, we took time to adjust to a different shape when we lost Reece Batchelor through injury.
“We were looking good again when they got their second goal and it was always going to be difficult after that against quality opposition. Missing chances has been a problem for us, but we must not let this become an issue. There are so many positives with the football we are playing and I know the chances will start flying in soon. I would like to wish Watford Under-18s manager David Hughes the best of luck in his new coaching role working with the Wales international youth set-up.”
The young Dons started well at Watford on Saturday and created early opportunities, most notably when Callum Overton was denied by home goalkeeper Shaun Rowley, who then brilliantly saved Egli Kaja’s effort after a lovely ball from Callum Wilson. However, Watford had a chance to make the breakthrough when Rosenthal shot just over the bar from 20 yards. In an impressive first-half from Wimbledon, Danny Gallagher shot just wide and then he created a shooting chance for Harrison, but his fine strike from 14 yards was ruled out for offside.
minute through Dennon Lewis, who scored with a brilliant header that left Dons goalkeeper Billy Bishop with no chance.thHowever, Wimbledon’s missed opportunities came back to haunt them as Watford seized the initiative in the 40
The visitors came so close to restoring parity four minutes after the break when Agyei’s header rattled the crossbar, but they were second best for a 20-minute spell after that and Watford missed a chance to seal it when Folivi struck wide from the penalty spot. However, man of the match Billy Frost (pictured), who produced a performance hailed as “exceptional” by Robinson, almost created the equaliser when he put a great ball through for Ollie Haines, but his effort was deflected just wide.
However, a quick Watford break put Carl Stewart through and he made no mistake to ensure that Wimbledon took no points from a promising overall performance.
The photograph above of Billy Frost was taken by Rob Cornell.