A report from last night's Premier League Cup tie
First-teamers Kevin Sainte-Luce and Harry Pell boosted their fitness levels with run-outs in the Premier League Cup, but it was a tough night for the Wimbledon Under-21s as they were eliminated by Charlton.
Following a bright start from Alan Reeves’ men, Jason Euell’s Charlton side snatched the lead on the half hour and three second-half goals from the Addicks earned a 4-0 win in a match played at Welling United FC.
The score line was a fair reflection of the second-half as an impressively well organised and focused Charlton team ran riot after the break with spectacular goals among their haul. Wimbledon struggled to cope with a diamond formation deployed by Wimbledon hero Euell.
It had looked promising early on for Wimbledon, in particular when Sainte-Luce (pictured) drove a powerful effort at goal that Charlton goalkeeper Dillon Phillips did well to catch. Former Charlton youngster Pell also produced a towering header that just missed the crossbar.
Charlton had to wait until the 26th minute for their first sight on goal when Jack Munns and Ahearne-Grant combined well, before the former fired an effort straight at Billy Bishop.
However, Wimbledon fell behind to a goal from Karlan Ahearne-Grant on the half hour. Though Billy Bishop will have been a little disappointed that he did not do better for the first goal, the young goalkeeper made very good saves and no one would have stopped two of Charlton’s goals after the break.
Charlton came out firing at the start of the second-half and Jack Munn doubled their advantage eight minutes after the break. And there was no stopping Charlton after that as they sealed victory in stunning style. First, Tariq Holmes-Dennis drove home from 25 yards just before the hour after a short corner routine and then followed a goal of the season contender from Callum Harriott.
Despite the score line, centre-backs Will Nightingale and Ryan Sweeney were hardly beaten in the air and they handled Charlton’s forwards well throughout.
Though Wimbledon U-21s coach Alan Reeves was clearly disappointed, he was pleased with the contributions of first-teamers and singled out Under-18 full-back Callum Wilson for praise.
“Harry was willing to run and he looked to create space,” said Alan. “Playing a full 90 minutes will help with his match sharpness. However, the lack of width in the second half left us rather exposed to their breaks and they scored two stunning goals. Though Kevin did very well in the first-half and created some real chances, he fell away in the second-half. Charlton’s defenders did a job on him by doubling up and starving him of any space.
“We asked left-back Callum Wilson to get forward more in the second half, but when you have someone of such pace in front of you it can sometimes be very difficult. Callum did well tonight and he will learn lots from this game.”
George Oakley boosted his match fitness too by playing 80 minutes before being substituted and Alan added that it was a step in the right direction for the young striker.
Jason Euell had complimentary words for his former club after the match – and he was pleased to hear news of Wimbledon’s JPT win on the same night.
"There were some good players out there tonight from both sides,” said Jason. “Perhaps our running and positioning was just a little better at times and we scored two top-drawer goals. Wimbledon have a great manager at the top in Neal Ardley and now too with Alan in charge of the Under-21s. I was also delighted to see familiar faces here from my time with Wimbledon and I was pleased to hear about the result in Buckinghamshire."
AFC Wimbledon Under-21s: Bishop, Pilbeam, Wilson, Richardson, Nightingale, Sweeney, Fitzpatrick, Pell, Oakley (Agyei 82), Jacquart, Sainte-Luce.