Young Dons bounce back to earn point
AFC Wimbledon under-18s responded to a stern half-time team talk from Mark Robinson to battle back in thrilling style against Torquay United yesterday.
Substitute Jayden Antwi (pictured left with Mark Robinson above) led the charge with a man of the match performance as the young Dons came from 2-0 down to earn a 3-3 draw.
Mark Robinson went into Friday afternoon’s Youth Alliance Merit League game at New Malden restricted in numbers with players required for Under-21 duty on Monday. It showed first-half as the young Dons started poorly, but they showed plenty of fighting spirit to turn it around in the second half.
played in behind them, said Mark. “It was not just long ball football; we made some good, penetrating runs and forced them to drop deep, which allowed us to play a bit and we were dominant. It wasn’t one of our best performances, but it was promising. “In the first half we caused our own problems really, but second half we got the full-backs high and
“Jayden Antwi came on at the start of the second half and changed the game for us. He was a physical presence, showed good control and he was very confident about taking the penalty. It was always going to be quite a difficult game as we had three trialists involved and four under-16s. "
Torquay opened the scoring on 26 minutes as the Dons failed to clear a corner and Teigan Rosenquest turned the ball past goalkeeper Will Mannion. George Marchant was given a start and he will make the full step-up to the U-18s next season, but 10 minutes later he was given a ticking off by the referee and the resulting free-kick needed tipping over by Mannion.
Two minutes before half-time the visitors from Devon doubled their lead as Wimbledon came under pressure and Rosenquest smashed in via the crossbar from close range.
It was a different story after the break through with half-time encouragement from Mark Robinson and a reorganisation paying off.
Antwi was the catalyst and he forced the Torquay goalkeeper into a fine save on the hour. Momentum grew as Reece Williams-Bowers was introduced and the hosts were rewarded on 65 minutes when promising trialist Magnus Abisogun was brought down in the area and Antwi pulled one back from the spot.
Five minutes later and the Dons were back on level terms. A free-kick was floated in and Antwi set up Alfie Egan to make it 2-2.
Wimbledon made their final substitution with another trialist Emmanuel Mensah replacing Abisogun and he was to make a vital contribution. His crucial contribution came after Liam Prymm had put Torquay back in front.
Mensah was in the right place to fire home the equaliser from close range to ensure Wimbledon made it eight matches unbeaten in front of first-teamer Will Nightingale, who was watching from the sidelines after signing his second professional contract on Thursday.
AFC Wimbledon: Will Mannion; Jason Stripp, Max Borland (Jayden Antwi), Reece Batchelor, George Marchant, Seanan McKillop (Reece Willliams-Bowers), Magnus Abisogun (Emmanuel Mensah), Billy Frost, Dan Ano, Alfie Egan, Neset Bellikli.