Osaze shines in under-18s defeat
Centre back Osaze Urhogidide earned praise from Coach Mark Robinson following his call-up to AFC Wimbledon under-18s in their narrow home defeat to leaders Leyton Orient.
Mark, who as Academy Head of Coaching helped in the development of Will Nightingale, Ryan Sweeney and Paul Kalambayi, was pleased with the youngster's contribution despite the 2-1 score line.
“We conceded a very 'cheap' free-kick from young Osaze, but he'll learn from that. I was really pleased with him for such a young age though and thought he was excellent and I thought there were some really good, dominant, individual performances," said Mark.
The young Dons started the day in fourth place in Merit League One of the Football Youth Alliance, eight points behind the visitors in top spot, but with a game in hand.
They were level on points with third place Bournemouth, following the disappointing 4-1 defeat to the Cherries the previous week, with Portsmouth second in the table and three points better off.
The hosts started brightly against physically strong opposition, many of whom had played in the under-21s fixture between the two clubs in midweek, which ended goalless.
Will Mannion was noticeably vocal towards his back four, with Seanan McKillop and Alfie Egan breaking play up in midfield for the Dons.
Orient gradually tried to impose themselves on the Wimbledon defence, but we're forced wide.as Urhogidide adapted to life quickly in his new partnership alongside Toby Sibbick.
Wimbledon took a deserved lead in the 20th minute from an inswinging Dan Ano corner that was skilfully delivered and deceived Orient keeper Sam Roach and his back line, ending up in the goal
It was a lead that lasted only eight minutes though as the visitors equalised from a free kick on the edge of the area. Orient skipper Michael Clarke tucked the ball in, unmarked at the back post, at close range past Mannion.
With half time approaching, the Dons came under more pressure and Orient went in front five minutes before the break when Sam Dalby headed home from a well delivered cross, in what had been a costly period of play.
It had been a disappointing end to the half for Mark Robinson's side, having made a positive start to proceedings.
Wimbledon needed to sharpen up at the back as they found themselves a goal down at the interval and to show their adventurous spirit again, as they had earlier in the first half.
The Dons again started well earning a succession of corners and free kicks with Reece Williams-Bowers at the heart of the action and Ano getting into threatening positions.
Reece Batchelor added to the attacking movement from the back, down the flank. Mannion had little to do against the leaders in the second period, with the Dons the more lively and creative of the two sides. With just under twenty minutes to go Nathan Wood replaced Antwi.
After a much deliberated free kick for the Dons, with just under ten minutes to go, Sibbick and two Orient players received yellow cards after a scuffle in the penalty area.
Judah Chapman contributed to the Dons attacking play throughout the second period, but despite a more rousing half the Dons slipped to a second successive defeat.
"It was a bit disappointing," said Mark Robinson afterwards. "We're constantly rotating the squad at present and they had virtually the same side that played against our under-21s on the Tuesday, so there are positives that came from it. Our finishing needed to be better and we needed to defend a bit better on the two goals we conceded."
"I thought we made a good start to the game," added Mark. "We got the goal, deservedly so, but after that we should have really gone for them and I didn't think we did that. We conceded from a 'cheap' free-kick as both goals were, but then after that I thought we were excellent second half."
"Up until the last five minutes I thought we played some great football, I don't think Will Mannion has had to make a save. Their keeper has had to make two or three saves and we've had some good opportunities in the area."
The Youth team have a busy end to their campaign with a trip to Cheltenham on Thursday followed by a visit from Southend next Saturday, as they aim to finish as high as possible after an impressive season.
AFC Wimbledon: Will Mannion, David Omperon, Toby Sibbick, Osaze Urhogidide, Reece Batchelor, Reece Williams-Bowers, Seanan McKillop, Judah Chapman, Alfie Egan, Dan Ano, Jayden Antwi (Nathan Wood).
Our photo shows Coach Mark Robinson talking to his squad, including Will Mannion, Toby Sibbick and Alfie Egan, after the game.