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Thrilling draw for U-16s

30 September 2014

Coach praises first-half display v Luton

AFC Wimbledon Under-16s coach Michael Hamilton said the young Dons were “a joy to watch” after a six-goal thriller against Luton Town on Saturday.

Though the U-16s squandered a 3-1 half-time lead and had to settle for a share of the spoils in an entertaining Football League Youth Alliance match, Michael Hamilton (pictured) believes it will do them no harm in terms of their future development.

“We were brilliant in the first-half and I think we shocked Luton with our intensity,” he said. “It was a joy to watch, but we were guilty of taking our foot off the pedal after our third goal. We got complacent and their first goal changed everything, but it had been coming as we were sloppy.

In the second-half we needed to show more character because it became very tough for us. I said to the boys afterwards that they can’t just choose to play when it’s easy. We will learn more from the draw than we would have done if we had won by four or five goals. We’ve got to go through these experiences to develop. Though the players were disappointed not to see it through, it’s an invaluable learning opportunity for all of them.’’ “In terms of development, the physicality and quality of the game was as close to an U-18s match as we’ve played this season.

The Dons started with admirable determination to build on their opening league win and they dominated against Luton from the outset. That resulted in a deserved lead for Wimbledon after just 10 minutes – and it was an opportunist strike from Jayden Antwi. It appeared that Antwi’s chance had gone when he struck a post after getting on the end of a corner, but he showed great improvisation to back heel the ball into the net.

The energy and intensity shown by the Dons meant that Luton were forced to defend deep and there was not long to wait for a second. It was a goal to savour in a completely different way as a smart set-piece routine paid off, Declan Appau starting it with a short corner and Sian Forsythe’s decoy run dragging a defender away. That seemingly left space for Anthony Hartigan to line-up a shot, but he dummied the ball for Ronan Halpin on the edge of the box and his pass was perfect for George Merchant to fire home.

minute when Judah Chapman put Forsythe through and he took the ball down with his chest, before producing a deft lob over the Luton It had been a great start from the young Dons, full of attacking verve and invention. And they were 3-0 up in the 25

minute. A back pass fell way short and Luton took full advantage to reduce the arrears. Though the score stayed the same until half-time, Luton’s spirits had been lifted and they were a different side after the break.rd However, Luton were offered a pathway back into the match in the 33

It meant that Wimbledon’s superb start had eventually only yielded a point and Michael Hamilton will be demanding that his side close out similar situations in the future. A much-improved second-half display from Luton brought the reward of a second goal for them 20 minutes from time. And after a spell of resolute Wimbledon defending, Luton secured the equaliser with six minutes to play.

Man of the match for Wimbledon was Ronan Halpin.

AFC Wimbledon Under-16s squad: Tom Gordon, Joe Thompson, Tin Carprene, Anthony Hartigan, Luke Massey, Ethan Roberts, Jayden Antwi, Declan Appau, Judah Chapman, George Merchant, Kieran Rhule, Ashan Sheppard, Reece Bowers, Sian Forsythe, James Parker, Ronan Halpin and Antonio Walker.

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