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Praise in defeat for Dons

12 October 2015

U-18s manager enthused by good football

AFC Wimbledon Under-18s came up just short on Saturday as their five-match unbeaten run was ended by Northampton Town, but manager Mark Robinson was very impressed with his side’s overall display.

A 1-0 home defeat meant that the Dons missed out on an opportunity to rise up to third place in the Football League Youth Alliance, despite a second-half that Mark Robinson described as “excellent”.

“In the first-half we played some very good football and create good chances, but I felt that we were a little bit too open compared to previous weeks,” said Mark. “They had too many chances, but we rectified that in the second-half after talking about our pressing and covering at half-time. I thought that we were excellent and we created so many clear-cut chances.

“However, even at academy level games will be won in both boxes and our finishing lacked a bit of guile and subtlety. Despite looking composed at the back, we switched off from one set-piece and we were punished. The only other thing that was not good enough was what we did from our own set pieces. We must have had 10 corners and the same amount of free-kicks in great areas, but our deliveries were poor and we did not cause them problems. I believe that is a mental thing and not a technical one.

“When you get those chances the player taking them needs to relish the opportunity to shine and not worry about failure, but I am not seeing that from set-pieces. Apart from that, it was a very good performance. I know the boys will be hurting because it was three points dropped and a missed opportunity. It’s all part of the learning process though. They need to focus on all the positives that made us so dominant and polish up on the couple of areas where we came up short.”

The young Dons started brightly on Saturday and Antonio Walker had a good chance after a great team move, but his lob was just too high. Toyosi Olusanya, Dan Ano and Walker all came close to an opener as Wimbledon played some lovely free-flowing football in the first 20 minutes. However, the Cobblers came into it as the first half wore on and Will Mannion had to make a smart save to keep his side level.

Wimbledon started on the front foot after half-time and it was so nearly 1-0 when Olusanya went clean through, but he had his effort saved by the goalkeeper. With Wimbledon playing a good mixture of short and long football, further chances were created for Olusanya, Ano, Alfie Egan and Paul Kalambayi, but still the Dons failed to find the back of the net.

With 25 minutes remaining, Judah Chapman replaced the impressive Walker and Louie Cockle replaced Reece Williams-Bowers, who also had a good game in midfield. More chances followed for Wimbledon, but none were taken, and then the unthinkable happened with eight minutes to go. Northampton struck with a headed goal from a corner, despite a brilliant effort from Mannion to keep it out. A late rally failed to yield an equaliser for the hosts as Wimbledon paid the price for failing to take their chances.

Man of the match for Wimbledon was Alfie Egan.

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