Report from final pre-season match for Under-18s
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s missed out on victory in their final pre-season friendly yesterday, but manager Mark Robinson said it was a positive sign that they were so disappointed afterwards.
The young Dons failed to build on a first-half goal from Callum Overton and they had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the LTB Sussex Academy, a set-up managed by former AFC Wimbledon player Mark Beard.
Wimbledon got off to a good start and they put together a great move that almost resulted in the opener when Billy Frost picked out Overton, but he was denied by the LTB goalkeeper. Ollie Haines also came close to making the breakthrough after a fine run and shot.
However, LTB had their moments too and Dons goalkeeper Billy Bishop had to make a fine double save to maintain parity.
With man of the match Dan Gallagher dictating matters in midfield, Wimbledon had plenty of possession and they made the most of that through Overton. The striker (picture above by Rob Cornell) latched onto a lovely flick-on from Frost and his shot had just enough power on it to beat the LTB goalkeeper.
It was a breakthrough that threatened to open the floodgates and Jason Stripp sent over an excellent cross from the left that Dan Agyei headed over the crossbar. A spirited response followed from LTB though and they were rewarded with the equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Billy Bishop was unable to deal with a corner and Adrian Todd reacted first to stab home from close-range.
Wimbledon started the second-half with a determination to restore their advantage and Agyei, Overton and Callum Wilson all came close to a second for the hosts. Then a flowing move ended with Neset Bellikli sending over a lovely cross from the left, but Overton shot wide from just a few yards out.
Substitute Alfie Egan showed promise in midfield and he struck a 25-yarder just over the crossbar, but Wimbledon suffered frustration in their search for a winner and Agyei summed up their performance when he shot wide after using his pace to go clean through.
The final whistle meant a first pre-season draw for Wimbledon and they go into their Football League Youth Alliance opener at Northampton this Saturday with six wins out of eight.
Mark Robinson said: “It was a great game ahead of Saturday and a very good test. They boys were very disappointed they did not win the game and I love that mentality. However, it’s very important that they understand why we did not win the game and it was sub-standard finishing from us. There are reasons why you have success and our technique and decision-making in front of goal was not good enough.
“Our technique, skill, decision-making and movement all over the rest of the pitch was consistently good and that’s why we created a host of clear-cut chances. We have the rest of this week to focus on the positives and eradicate the short falls. If we can do that then I’m very confident that it will all come together for when the real action starts on Saturday.”