Young Dons maintain excellent form
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s extended their unbeaten run to seven matches with a hard-fought victory at Newport County yesterday.
Manager Mark Robinson admitted afterwards that his side were second best in terms of possession and chances, but they showed plenty of resilience to earn a 1-0 victory in South Wales, thanks to a winner from Alfie Egan (pictured).
However, Mark pointed to a real positive for the future in the form of 15-year-old Paul Kalambayi, who produced a superb performance against an experienced Newport side for this level.
The young Dons had to withstand plenty of early pressure, which included Newport rattling the crossbar after just five minutes. There was another let-off for Wimbledon just before the half hour mark when Corey Shepherd also hit the woodwork.
minute when Egan opened the scoring. Man of the match Billy Frost picked out Dan Agyei, who showed first-team squad player Regan Poole a clean pair of heels, before finding Egan at the second attempt and he made no mistake.ndWimbledon had barely shown any threat as an attacking force in the first half an hour, but that mattered little in the 32
Though Wimbledon ended the first half on top, Newport regained the initiative after half-time. Ten minutes after the break came a change for the Dons with Seanan McKillop, who impressed in his first start for 18 months, replaced by Reece Williams-Bowers. Trialist Magnus Abisogun was also introduced in place of Dan Ano.
Those changes failed to alter the pattern of this match as Newport continued to pile pressure on. However, Wimbledon’s back four defended excellently and goalkeeper Will Mannion was impressive between the sticks.
Williams-Bowers came so close to sealing victory when he shot against a post, before the outstanding Frost found Tayshan Hayden-Smith and his cross was so nearly converted by Agyei. However, one ended up being enough for the Dons to secure another three points in the Merit League.
Mark Robinson said: “I find it very difficult to feel positive about games when we do not have good possession of the ball and are on the back foot for long spells. However, I realise there are many aspects to the game and you cannot always be the dominant force. So from a defensive point of view I have to be pleased with the boys.
“From our goalkeeper Will Mannion right the way throughout the team we did everything we could do to keep a clean sheet. Our back four consisted of a right-back playing centre-back, a central midfielder playing right back, a naturally attacking left sided player at left-back and a 15-year-old making his first Under-18 appearance.“Paul Kalambayi was excellent in his first Under-18 game and I am very excited he has put pen to paper ready for his two-year scholarship next year. He had a lot of attractive offers open to him from some big clubs. We have always been excellent at keeping the talent we already have at the club, but when a very talented 15-year-old chooses us over other clubs it shows how we are growing as an academy and as a club that wants to bring through its own talent.”