Wood strikes third goal in win against Exeter
A brilliant finish from Nathan Wood sealed an impressive victory for AFC Wimbledon Under-18s – and extended their unbeaten league run to 12 matches.
Jayden Antwi struck a first-half double, before Wood (pictured) curled home emphatically to earn a 3-0 Merit League win at home to Exeter City.
Though FA Youth Cup hero Alfie Egan did not find the back of the net, he was instrumental throughout and deservedly earned the man of the match award.
Wimbledon made plenty of changes from the side that pushed Chelsea all the way in a friendly, including Anthony Hartigan stepping up to replace captain Seanan McKillop.
minute. Egan was the instigator as he picked out Antwi with a lovely ball and the striker finished clinically from 12 yards with his left foot. There was no let-up from Wimbledon after taking the lead and Antwi had a decent penalty shout turned down, before Reece Williams-Bowers released the impressive Emmanuel Mensah, who brought a great save from the Exeter goalkeeper.thIt did not take long for the Dons to establish superiority and it was 1-0 in the 19
Though Exeter had good spells of football in response, Dominic Bongo and Toby Sibbick were in commanding form for Wimbledon at the back. Dons goalkeeper Will Mannion also helped set-up a fine attack after he caught a cross brilliantly. His great ball picked out Antwi and a flowing move ended with an exquisite 40-yard pass from Wood to set-up Williams-Bowers, but he was just denied by the Exeter goalkeeper.
Egan came close to doubling the advantage 10 minutes before the break, but the elusive second goal did arrive on the stroke of half-time. A long pass from Wood released Antwi and though the Exeter goalkeeper saved his initial shot, he made a hash of clearing it, and the Dons striker tapped home from close range.
It was effectively all over five minutes after the break when Wood curled home superbly from 22 yards after good work from Egan. The Dons threatened to get a fourth with midfielder Hartigan’s influence growing in the centre of the park. Egan just failed to cap his impressive performance with a goal when he fired just over the crossbar.
Midway through the second-half, Nick Akotu replaced the influential Wood and 17 minutes from time came another substitution with Dan Ano entering the fray for Judah Chapman. Antwi, who had been a constant menace to Exeter, was withdrawn with 10 minutes to play and replaced by Antonio Walker.
Though Mannion made a fine late save to deny Exeter late on, Wimbledon were comfortable winners in the end.
U-18s manager Mark Robinson said: “I had been really looking forward to this game because Exeter have a fantastic academy and they bring lots of players through to play first-team football. I knew that they would be brave on the ball and offer us lots of challenges. The pitch was really difficult, but both sides played excellent football on the day. I think the main difference was that we offered a huge threat in key areas. Some of our transition from defence to attack was so swift with plenty of players looking to break lines.
“I was pleased with every single one of the players and I love the pride they are showing in trying to keep clean sheets. We lost our way a little in the last 15 minutes and we forgot how to keep the ball well enough. However, it was a pleasing performance, including a lot of fine individual displays.
“The boys desperately want to win the league. All we can do is keep winning and hope that leaders Leyton Orient slip-up. As coaching staff, we just need to make sure that their hunger to win is a great thing in their individual development and it does not hinder progress in other key areas.”