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Late despair for U-18s

20 October 2014

Dan's 10th goal of season is not enough

AFC Wimbledon Under-18s paid the ultimate price for failing to finish off Southend after conceding two late goals on Saturday.

minute, but a wonder goal drew Southend level and the hosts snatched a 2-1 win in The young Dons were 1-0 up through a goal from Dan Agyei (pictured) until the 88

With no Under-21s game coming up, Ben Harrison was welcomed back into the Under-18 squad to keep his fitness ticking over after playing for the first-team earlier this season.

Despite his disappointment after the defeat, manager Mark Robinson said that he was encouraged with his side’s display and they have a quick chance to bounce back with a Football League Youth Alliance quarter-final tie at Milton Keynes on Tuesday.

“I was very critical of the boys after last week’s game, but this could not have been more different,” said Mark. “In difficult conditions I thought we played some good football and rectified what we did not do last week with our off the ball work. At 1-0 up there are always risks, but I could not see us conceding one goal, let alone two. There were a couple of things we could have done better towards the end and I will talk to the boys about that before Tuesday’s game.

“For their first goal I don’t think their lad will ever strike a ball better than what he did on Saturday. Nobody wants to lose, but in terms of development there were a lot of positives. I know that the boys will be relishing the challenge that faces them in Tuesday’s cup quarter-final.”

Wimbledon started brightly on Saturday, in particular with Callum Wilson and Neset Bellikli linking-up effectively down the right flank. Bellikli was just inches wide with a fine effort from 20 yards and then Dan Gallagher headed on a corner from Billy Frost to set-up Agyei, but his shot was saved from six yards.

With Harrison, Wilson, Taylor Roles and Ryan Sweeney offering a solid base at the back and Gallagher, Frost and Alfie Egan bossing midfield, Wimbledon were well in control. And they deservedly took the lead just before the half hour mark. Wilson and Bellikli combined well again and though the latter’s pass just failed to find Agyei, the Dons striker caused enough of a nuisance to cause hesitation in Southend’s defence and he needed no second invitation to finish clinically from 12 yards. It was a landmark goal for Agyei as he’s now reached double figures already this season.

Though Southend came back into it before half-time, Dons goalkeeper Will Mannion was untested apart from collecting a couple of crosses and Wimbledon were back on top after the break. Frost struck a 30-yard free-kick that flashed agonisingly wide and then substitute Callum Overton, who had replaced Dan Ano, shot just wide after getting on the end of a cross from Bellikli. Overton came even closer with a clever flick that rolled just an inch or so past a post after good work from Agyei and Egan.

With Wimbledon having just failed to secure the cushion of a second goal, they started to defend a little deeper in the latter stages and this proved to be their undoing. A superb individual strike drew Southend level two minutes from the end of normal time and there was a cruel twist in the tale when the hosts snatched all three points in stoppage time.

Billy Frost was nominated as Wimbledon‘s man of the match.

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