Dan Ano goal is not enough to salvage draw
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s manager Mark Robinson took no consolation from a slender defeat against a Southend United side that maintained an impressive 100 per cent record on Saturday.
Hosts Southend made it five wins out of five in the Football League Youth Alliance with a 2-1 win, but only after the young Dons had threatened to snatch a point with Dan Ano (pictured) scoring a great goal.
However, Mark Robinson felt his players did not show enough desire to earn a draw.
“We started the game well and looked in good control, but our own sloppy play helped them gain momentum, which they took full advantage of,” said Mark. “In the last 10 minutes of the first half they did the same and we could easily have gone in 1-1 at half-time. It was disappointing to concede early in the second half as that was exactly the opposite of what we wanted and again it stemmed from poor detail when we were on the ball.
“We got ourselves back into the game and had chances to equalise, but what was really disappointing was an apparent lack of desire from some of our players to have an impact upon the game when they were vulnerable in the last 15 minutes. Some of that was down to a lack of game understanding, but a little bit was down to a lack of pure desire to hurt them.
“I can work on a lack of game understanding, but missing the other key ingredient is baffling. Southend are a very good side and I could see why they won their first four games comfortably. We ran them fairly close, but we need to be a lot better and we will be.”
It could have been very different as the young Dons started brightly with Ano and Jayden Antwi both going close from half chances and Emmanuel Mensah showing good effectiveness down the right side. However, as the first half wore on Wimbledon conceded possession cheaply and that allowed Southend to build up a head of steam as an attacking force. The hosts made their pressure count when Walker pounced on hesitancy in the Wimbledon defence to beat Dons goalkeeper Jack Wingate in a race for the ball, before stabbing home from close range.
The Dons responded well to that setback by defending resolutely and almost equalising when Alfie Egan smashed a shot against the crossbar after a quick break. Neset Bellikli also struck the upright with a great effort from 25 yards and Antwi and Ano also came close before half time.
It was 2-0 four minutes after the break though when Walker reacted first to bag his second after getting on the end of a cross. Reece Williams-Bowers replaced Seanan McKillop as Wimbledon looked for a route back into the game. That arrived on the hour with Williams-Bowers at the heart of it as he fed Egan, who sent through a fine long ball and Ano did the rest with a smart finish.
More changes followed for Wimbledon as Nathan Woods replaced the impressive Mensah and Toyosi Olusanya entered the fray for Ano. Though Antwi and Olusanya both came close in the final stages, Southend held on for a victory that Mark Robinson admitted they deserved.
Man of the match for Wimbledon was Paul Kalambayi.