Harlan Basker seals a superb league return
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s showed no signs of rustiness in their first competitive game since before Christmas as they marched to an emphatic victory against Southend United.
Substitute Harlan Basker (pictured) rounded off a fine return to action for Wimbledon in the Football League Youth Alliance with the final goal in a 4-0 win with man of the match Ben Harrison also on target.
The Dons had kept themselves ticking over by playing friendly matches recently, but they had to make changes for this game with Ryan Sweeney missing out due to illness and Chris Vleitinck therefore replacing him at centre-back. With Dan Gallagher suspended, Renato Morais was handed his first league start in midfield and he produced an impressive display in the centre of the park.
Wimbledon started well and the lively Callum Overton twice forced Southend goalkeeper Ted Smith into fine saves, before he just missed the target with another fine effort. With the Dons having failed to press home their early supremacy, Southend edged into it and Wimbledon goalkeeper Billy Bishop made a brilliant save to deny the powerful Jason Williams. However, the Dons got the goal their first-half play deserved when Billy Frost put through an exquisite through ball that Ollie Haines met with a fantastic 18-yard volley.
Though Wimbledon started the second-half brightly, they needed Bishop to once again be alert to deny Southend. However, Bishop started a move that led to the second goal when he picked out Frost, who quickly switched the ball to Haines. There was still a lot to do when Haines found Egli Kaja. However, he showed the Southend defence a clean pair of heels and then found the net with a fine left-footed finish.
It got better for Wimbledon with the outstanding Harrison heading home at the far post from a corner. Then Frost claimed another assist when he put Basker through and the substitute made no mistake by finishing smartly with his left foot.
Under-18s manager Mark Robinson said: “I was a little bit worried about the sharpness of my side because they had not had a competitive game for a long time. However, our shape, pressing and discipline was first-class. We are capable of playing better football, but we were so fluent and effective at times. There was not a bad performance out there from any of the team and Renato Morais did well in his first league match. The boys are rightly feeling very pleased with themselves, but we will be working on getting better from Monday onwards.”