Academy showcase concludes with 2-2 draw v Bees
AFC Wimbledon academy’s football festival reached an entertaining conclusion yesterday with honours even between the Dons and Brentford.
Taking on a Brentford side only narrowly beaten by Barcelona this season, Wimbledon U-15s/U-16s needed to show all of their talent to compete, but they came so close to victory in a 2-2 draw at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Jayden Antwi and Nathan Wood twice put the young Dons in front, but Brentford showed plenty of tenacity to earn a share of the spoils.
It was a similar scenario for Wimbledon U-13s (team photo above) as they came away slightly disappointed after a thrilling 2-2 draw against the Bees. Played in a format of four quarters consisting of 20 minutes each, the Dons came so close to taking an early lead when David Fisher struck a post after a fine team move.
At the other end, goalkeeper Dan McKerracher had to make a smart save to keep the Dons level, but Wimbledon seized the initiative in the second quarter. With Ayoub Assal showing plenty of promise in midfield, the Dons continued to pour forward and they were rewarded with the opening goal when Ricky Johnson pounced on a mistake and finished clinically.
Bryant Bolingo twice came close to making it 2-0, but Brentford drew level in the third quarter. When David Fisher got the goal his play had deserved, the Dons appeared set for a 2-1 win, but Brentford rallied to secure a draw.
Wimbledon Under-13s coach Tom Hounsell said: “The boys worked really hard to encapsulate the academy’s principles of playing out from the back and pressing high up the pitch. We played very well against a side more physical than us. We had to brush that off and play to our strengths. We certainly did that and probably deserved to win the game.”
The academy hosted a whole day of matches yesterday with games against Brentford from U-9s to U-16s featuring plenty of goals and good football.
Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer said: “The plan of these games at the stadium was to use them as a benchmark to test ourselves against a very good academy. We wanted to find out how well our best players could compete so that we can be realistic about their potential for the future. Taking on an academy with a bigger budget, we showed that we could compete and that was fantastic.
“It was a test of the mentality of our players too as they had to cope with playing at a stadium in front of a bigger crowd. That was important for us to see as coaches. We had plenty of compliments afterwards from Brentford FC staff and I must thank them for bringing their teams down and making it such a great event yesterday.”