First defeat of 2015
AFC Wimbledon under-18s superb, unbeaten run in 2015 finally came to an end on Saturday morning at the hands of Dagenham & Redbridge.
With manager Mark Robinson away with the Academy at a tournament in Holland, assistant James Oliver-Pearce took control of the away trip as the side eventually went down 3-2.
The young Dons travelled to Dagenham & Redbridge, for this FLYA Youth Merit League fixture, looking to maintain their 11 game unbeaten run.
The picture above shows Mark Robinson (centre) with Academy Sports Science and Medicine Manager Jenna Richards (left) and James, Senior Professional Development Phase Coach (right).
James said: "We must learn how to stay more disciplined in our shape. We also need to recognise when we need to keep the ball and take the sting out of the game for five minutes. Despite the boys being disappointed with the result there were positives with five under 16's and two under 15's involved."
After only 3 minutes, under-16 Judah Chapman scored from a beautiful dipping volley to put Wimbledon in the lead. That joy was short lived, however, when in the 23rd minute Reeco Hackett equalised with a clever chip over Will Mannion.
Wimbledon then struggled to keep their shape and failed to be pro-active when defending. A quick switch of play caught out the defence and midfield and Seanan McKillop brought down a Dagenham midfielder just inside the penalty box. The resulting penalty was saved well by Mannion, but only for penalty taker Jimmy Nottage to tap in the re-bound.
The young Dons then started the second half brightly, delivering good crosses through the opposition’s six yard box only for Jayden Antwi and Dan Ano to narrowly miss out on converting. With the Dons now pushing for an equaliser, it meant the game became more open. A fantastic delivery from Neset Bellikli resulted in Paul Kalambayi heading inches past the post.
Wimbledon’s attacking threat paid off when Neset Bellikli played a wonderful scooped pass over the opposition’s head for Dan Ano to volley over Dagenham goalkeeper Joe Carter in the 80th minute. With momentum appearing to be going Wimbledon’s way, they continued to push for the winner.
Dagenham managed to clear an attack and while it looked like stand in centre-back Jason Stripp was going to usher the ball out, instead it was hooked into the centre of the pitch before Darren Foxley finished well in the 86th minute.
The game finished with Alfie Egan receiving a second yellow card for being involved in a small scuffle.
AFC Wimbledon squad: Will Mannion, Tommy Stephens, Jason Stripp, Paul Kalambayi, Reece William - Bowers, Seanan McKillop, Alfie Egan, Judah Chapman, Dan Ano, Neset Bellikli, Jayden Antwi, Tino Carpene, Antonio Walker and Osaze Urhighide.