Supporters enjoyed meeting with young Dons
The AFC Wimbledon supporters’ team are unlikely to face a tougher test in their big annual tournament next month after coming up against our Under-18s at the weekend.
Player-manager Dan Stevens led his side into a friendly match against AFC Wimbledon’s young talents with manager Mark Robinson having put the squad through a full week of pre-season training leading into it.
Unsurprisingly, the match ended in a 9-1 win for our Under-18s, but Dan said it was a privilege to take on a professional club’s academy, ahead of their WorldNET tournament, which is a competition against supporters’ teams from England, Scotland and abroad.
“It was probably the hardest game that we will face by a million miles,” said Dan. “Last year when we played against the Under-18s they included four or five players who went onto play first-team football. I think it is a good thing for both teams. For the young players, it forges a good link with the fans and for us it is great to take on AFC Wimbledon’s up-and-coming players.
“As well as being an excellent group of players, the Under-18s were a credit to the club with their professionalism and conduct. It didn’t go unnoticed that they all helped to carry equipment, ahead of the game. The evidence of such good attitudes went down very well with our players.”
It will get much harder for AFC Wimbledon Under-18s as they take on Norwich City away on Saturday, 11 July, but Mark Robinson added that taking on the supporters’ team came at the right time in his side’s pre-season programme.
“Everyone got 45 minutes, which was perfect, and the supporters’ team kept going until the final whistle so both sides got what they needed out of it,” said Mark. “I set our boys some tough targets and they would have hit them if their finishing had been better and they had not switched off at the end.
“We played this fixture for the first time last year and it worked well for both teams. Obviously, the lads in our squad get to meet some of our fans and that is a good thing. I wish the supporters’ team the best of luck for their tournament. They got to the quarter-finals last year and I am sure they can improve upon that.”
Goals for the Under-18s were scored by Reece Batchelor, Louie Cockle, Jayden Antwi, Nathan Wood, Antonio Walker, Tino Carperne, Neset Bellikli, Jason Stripp and a trialist.