Substitute seals a fine display from the Under-18s
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s produced exactly the response that Mark Robinson had demanded in midweek when they earned a hard-fought victory at Portsmouth yesterday.
Dan Agyei (pictured) was Wimbledon’s match-winner, but it was the overall display from the Dons that most pleased Academy Head Coach Robinson as his side earned a 1-0 win against a Pompey team that were second in the Football League Youth Alliance South East section before this match.
Following their 4-0 defeat at the hands of Leyton Orient, the Dons had to show plenty of character to repel Pompey early on with England Under-18 captain Jack Whatmough, who has already played for Portsmouth’s first-team, leading the charge.
The Dons provided stubborn resistance though with man of the match Taylor Roles impressing at the back. Egli Kaja and Callum Overton, who both starred in Wimbledon’s 2-1 London Cup win against Cray Wanderers in midweek, started to influence matters at the other end as the first-half wore on.
With Danny Gallagher, Renato Morais and Billy Frost starting to win their battles in midfield, Wimbledon came into the match as an attacking force. Overton, Kaja and Harry Bruce, who was making his first start after moving up from the college team, all came close to opening the scoring before half-time.
It was still stalemate though until the hour mark, but Agyei changed all that by making an instant impression after his introduction. Kaja, who set-up George Oakley’s midweek winner against Cray, was the instigator once again as he won possession and produced a fine through ball that was expertly finished off by Agyei.
Wimbledon introduced another Under-16 player 18 minutes from time with Jason Stripp offered a chance to gain experience in the Football League Youth Alliance as he replaced the impressive Morais. Wimbledon had to really dig in to hold onto their lead during the latter stages with Billy Bishop showing his promise between the sticks and Roles producing a resolute defensive performance.
At the other end, Frost was denied a late clincher by Pompey goalkeeper Alex Bass and Roles headed narrowly over the bar, but one was enough for Wimbledon in the end.
Mark Robinson said: “There was quite a lot to be pleased about. The boys were very organised, communicated much better and showed the requirements needed to win a football match. I always want better possession, but there were times when we kept the ball and played out very well on a difficult surface. The last 15 minutes became a bit ugly, but that can happen to the best sides in the world. Once again, we fielded a side made up completely of first-year Under-18s, plus an Under-16 player, and we were taking on a side that included an England youth international.
“Some of the boys had an impact on Wednesday night against Cray and they just need to maintain consistency in terms of meeting the requirements that I’ve set for them.”