Young Dons prove too strong for Southend
AFC Wimbledon U-18s rounded off a memorable season on a high with an impressive victory against Southend United on Saturday.
Goals from centre-backs Dom Bongo and Toby Sibbick earned a 2-0 victory with Jason Stripp (pictured) producing a man of the match performance in midfield.
"We completely controlled the game with a wonderful mix of football", said Mark Robinson afterwards. "Our rotation and movement was outstanding and our technical detail very good."
"We are currently joint second in the Merit League table as we have an identical record to Portsmouth. The worst we could finish is third if Bournemouth win their game in hand and that’s not bad considering we have never fielded the same team twice. We made four or five changes in every game so that we could give everyone in the squad experience and due to players being required for the Under-21s.
“As it is was our last game, I would like to say congratulations to all the boys on an excellent season. They created a bit of history for our club with their FA Youth Cup run and they gave people memories that will last a lifetime."
Saturday’s win concluded a busy week for the young Dons with a 2-2 draw against Cheltenham 48 hours earlier, thanks to goals from Reece Williams-Bowers and Toyosi Olusanya.
Dom Bongo wore the captain’s armband on Saturday for the final competitive game of the season against a Southend side who included two players on professional contracts. The AFC Wimbledon team contained four of the side that started the unforgettable FA Youth Cup victory at Newcastle - Toby Sibbick, Stripp, Dan Ano and Seanan McKillop. Goalkeeper Jack Wingate, George Marchant, Reece Williams-Bowers and Chapman - all substitutes at St James' Park - started on this occasion.
Wimbledon gradually contained what Southend offered up front with Sibbick and Bongo in control in the centre and Marchant and Reece Batchelor breaking effectively down the flanks. Sibbick also pushed forward, advancing through midfield on occasions.
Southend could have opened the scoring when Rene Batlokwa capitalised on a mistake at the back, but his strike bounced off the crossbar after half an hour on the clock. The Dons quickly attempted to re-establish their dominance and two minutes later Sibbick's effort from close range went over the crossbar after he got on the end of a corner from McKillop.
Williams-Bowers covered a lot of ground for Wimbledon throughout the first half, proving to be a real menace to the Southend defence, but the hosts failed to make their first-half dominance pay.
minute. It came in fine style too when Sibbick struck a brilliant long-range effort from a free-kick.rdHowever, that all changed after the break with Stripp pulling the strings in midfield and driving the Dons forward. Though Jack Wingate made a smart save from a free-kick, it was 1-0 to Wimbledon in the 53
Wimbledon lost McKillop to injury on the hour, but his replacement Antonio Walker made an instant impact when his cross found Williams-Bowers, who set-up Judah Chapman, but his shot was saved. Versatile Osaze Urhogidide also entered the fray for Jayden Antwi, freeing up Stripp from midfield.
minute when a deflected effort from Williams-Bowers came back off a post and Bongo finished clinically to effectively seal victory.thThe Dons were celebrating another goal in the 68
The young Dons had worked hard to establish their dominance and they proved too strong for Southend on the day. With just over a quarter of an hour left, Louie Cockle came on for the energetic Williams-Bowers. Wimbledon finished the game on top with all of the substitutes contributing, Walker in particular, as Wingate kept a clean sheet. It was a fine way to end a competitive season at Under-18 level that will live long in the memory.
AFC Wimbledon: Wingate, Marchant, Batchelor, Sibbick, Bongo, Stripp, Ano, McKillop (Walker), Antwi (Urhogidide), Williams Bowers (Cockle), Chapman.