Dan Ano earns man of the match award
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s turned around an early deficit to beat Barnet and earn a second successive victory in the Football League Youth Alliance.
Dan Ano (pictured) was again on the scoresheet and produced a man of the match performance in a thrilling 3-2 away win for Mark Robinson’s side.
It never started well for Wimbledon though as they slipped behind after 15 minutes when Daniel Cheema pounced to put the Bees 1-0 up after Will Mannion could only parry a cross.
The response to going behind was good from Wimbledon and a great team move earned a penalty just after the half hour. Seanan McKillop and Jayden Antwi combined superbly to release the overlapping Reece-Williams Bowers, but he was sent sprawling in the box after an impressive run. Antwi stepped up confidently and made no mistake from 12 yards from the subsequent spot-kick.
Wimbledon started the second-half with greater purpose and it took just two minutes for the Dons to move in front. Jason Stripp, who was excellent for the Under-21s last week, Paul Kalambayi and Bowers, were all involved in a fine move that set-up Ano, who cut inside and finished brilliantly from 15 yards with his supposed weaker right foot.
With captain Dom Bongo in dominant form at the back, well supported by Toby Sibbick and Kalambayi, Wimbledon had taken a grip on the game. McKillop, Alfie Egan and Stripp continued to dominate matters in the centre of the park and it was 3-1 17 minutes from time. The influential Egan found Batchelor and then darted into the box to meet a wonderful cross from the full-back to perfection with a brilliant header from 12 yards.
It was far from over though as Francis Vincent reduced the deficit from the penalty spot and Barnet squandered a great chance to make it 3-3. Mark Robinson made three changes in the final stages with Toyosi Olusanya replacing the impressive Antwi, Antonio Walker on for Ano and Louis Cockle entering the fray for McKillop. With fresh legs offering extra energy in the latter stages, the Dons held on for a fourth league victory this season.
Mark Robinson said: “We are constantly trying to get the correct mix of technical and tactical development to move the lads forward in the right direction. During the week leading up to the game we did concentrate more on the tactical side of things and it was very pleasing to see the boys put the work we had done into action. I was impressed with Barnet’s approach play and to be honest if we had not done that work I think we would have found it very difficult to win the game.
“My assistant James Oliver Pearce did some extra individual technical work with Alfie Egan, which certainly paid dividends. Alan Reeves and Neil Cox also took out my three centre backs for extra work on Thursday afternoon and they all performed in a much more dominant manner. We did not play as much football as I would like, but we certainly had our moments and when we got it right as always we made it look easy to get ourselves into dangerous positions.
“An observer commented on how superb the work-rate was from our boys. I pointed out that is how it should be every single week and I find it quite frustrating that we should praise work-rate. It needs to be a given. Outside the football world, there are millions of people who work hard for 10 hours a day for five days a week, every week. I’m sure they don’t get a pat on the back every day before they go home and a thank-you for putting a shift in.”