High praise for emerging talents after win
Alan Reeves has praised the attitude of his young squad for rising to the challenges put in front of them this season after last night’s excellent victory against AFC Bournemouth.
An experienced Cherries squad, including former Leeds full-back Ian Harte, Eunan O’Kane and Dan Gosling, were brushed aside 3-1 in a match at Merstham that saw Jake Goodman stake a claim for a Wimbledon first-team recall by coming through 90 minutes.
A double from Tom Beere and a Dan Agyei strike did the damage in a victory that saw several Under-18s stepping up to play in the Final Third Development League fixture. This was due to a combination of injuries and key players David Fitzpatrick and Dan Gallagher included in the first-team squad at Mansfield on the same night.
Alan Reeves said: “As a coach you always want to put out your strongest side, but last night offered opportunities to other lads. It is down to them to take their chances and they are doing that. Billy Frost started for the first time at this level and he did well. It is a jump from the Under-18s to development level because last night we were taking on a Championship club and they had seven first-team players in their squad.
“When I saw Bournemouth’s team sheet I said to our boys not to be scared of anything. I told our lads to look them in the eye and not have any fear. Our young lads are listening to what we are telling them and they have been doing that for most of this season. They have a willingness to learn. We beat a Gillingham side with several first-teamers earlier this season and drew with a strong Portsmouth team recently.
“After the first half an hour last night we more than matched Bournemouth and that was emphasised by the result. We deserved to win the game after the performance we produced in the second half.”
Josh O’Hanlon put the Cherries in front early on and it needed a fine save from Under-18 goalkeeper Will Mannion to keep Wimbledon in it. However, it was a different story after the break. Frost set-up the equaliser with a fine through ball for Agyei and the in-form striker finished clinically. Beere then put Wimbledon in front for the first time when he dispossessed Harte and curled home smartly.
There was even better to come from Wimbledon as a well-executed corner routine paid off. Chace Jacquart played a one-two with Egli Kaja and then crossed superbly for Beere to head home. Alan Reeves also introduced Under-18s Seanan McKillop and Jason Stripp in the second half with the pair gaining invaluable experience at development level for the first time.
Alan was impressed with Goodman’s display alongside young Ryan Sweeney (pictured above).
“Jake was a little rusty last week because he had not played for a while, but he was aggressive last night, won his headers and organised us at the back,” said Alan. “Ryan was also solid alongside him and they both did well together.”
AFC Wimbledon: Will Mannion, Callum Wilson, Jake Goodman, Ryan Sweeney, Ben Harrison, Tom Beere, Christian Toonga (Seanan McKillopp), Billy Frost (Jason Stripp), Chace Jacquart, Dan Agyei, Egli Kaja.