Under-18s rue missed chances
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s had to settle for a draw against Northampton on Saturday after squandering several chances to earn their first win of 2015.
Following last week’s thriller at Milton Keynes that ended 3-3, it was a different story this time as the young Dons failed to show the same cutting edge and were held to a 0-0 draw.
That was despite the creativity of man of the match Neset Bellikli (pictured), who produced an impressive midfield performance.
They could have been in front after 10 minutes when Egli Kaja’s goal-bound shot was blocked and Alfie Egan’s follow-up was well saved. Tyashan Hayden-Smith also had an effort brilliantly saved from 20 yards after a fine solo run. In a match played on a heavy pitch and in blustery conditions, the young Dons made a bright start.
Though Billy Bishop pulled off an excellent save to keep the Dons level, it was all Wimbledon in the first-half. Callum Wilson shot narrowly wide after he was set-up by an impressive short corner routine involving Billy Frost and Egli Kaja. Bellikli, who was at the heart of Wimbledon’s best moves throughout, then produced a lovely run down the wing, before sending over a wonderful cross that just eluded Hayden-Smith.
Wimbledon failed to create any meaningful chances in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but they recaptured their first half momentum after a change of shape with Seanan McKillop introduced for Hayden-Smith. McKillop did not take long to make an impression and he put through Dan Agyei, who shot wide. Kaja and Agyei both came close shortly afterwards and the Dons created a host of chances in the final 20 minutes.
Dan Ano made a fine contribution after entering the fray for Egan and 15-year-old Ronan Halpin was also introduced to gain experience at this level with Dom Bongo making way. Billy Frost just failed to apply the finishing touch after more fine work from Bellikli and then Frost was denied by a brilliant save. Ano volleyed over from 10 yards with a fine effort and Agyei came so close to netting a late winner when he was put through by Kaja, but his shot rolled agonisingly wide.
Under-18s manager Mark Robinson said: “It was very difficult conditions for both teams, which meant that the quality of play was very up and down. When we did get the detail right in our passing and movement, we made it look very easy and created a lot of clear-cut chances. At the other end, we looked solid defensively and we did get caught out Billy Bishop was agile and alert.
“When you create three or four one-on-one chances and have at least 10 good shooting opportunities you have to make it count and that was the feeling among the lads afterwards.”