Under-18s hit the goal trail to secure impressive win
Five different players hit the back of the net in a rampant display from AFC Wimbledon under-18s on Saturday.
Following the 5-0 defeat at Southend first time out in the Football League Youth Alliance, it was a completely different story this time around as the young Dons marched to a 5-2 victory against Dagenham & Redbridge.
Reece Williams-Bowers, Osaze Urhoghide, Tino Carpene, Jayden Antwi and Antonio Walker all netted as Mark Robinson's youth team triumphed in convincing fashion at the training ground.
The squad was boosted for this match with defender Toby Sibbick and Reece Williams-Bowers both back in the mix after run-outs for the development squad.
"We had Toby back for 45 minutes and that made a difference,” said Mark. “The young lads around him looked good as they felt more confident. We started the second-half quite slowly after Toby went off. I was only able to give Toby around 45 minutes as he's going to be with the development squad more regularly.
"When Toby went off you could see that the rest of the boys went quiet. Dagenham pressed and got in our faces and we just needed to stand up and be counted. We had a couple of tricky moments and Josef Bursik did great saving a penalty. We weathered the storm, got our composure back, and scored a couple more goals, but it was a shame we conceded another one right at the end.
“Once we scored the opening goal we were dominant for the next 25 minutes and scored good goals. We dropped off a little before half-time though. The boys can't have the older ones around them all the time and it's a good learning experience for them, but I was particularly impressed with Tom Scott coming back from injury at the back. I thought he was a real leader for us."
Sibbick, Louie Cockle and man-of-the-match Williams-Bowers were among those that returned after featuring for the development squad at Charlton, while Judah Chapman in midfield wore the captain’s armband.
Following a positive opening quarter of an hour from both sides, the hosts asserted themselves and raced into a three-goal lead by the midway point with Williams-Bowers at the heart of the action. A fine ball from Ethan Nelson-Roberts was slid in at the far post by Williams-Bowers for the opener and before 20 minutes was out it was 2-0 when Urhoghide followed up a rebound after a free-kick from Anthony Hartigan was saved.
Wimbledon were in full control midway through the first-half when Carpene finished clinically from close range. However, the Dons needed a superb double goal-line clearance from defender Scott to maintain the three-goal advantage by half-time.
With 53 minutes on the clock, Louie Ainsley replaced the outstanding Sibbick at the heart of Wimbledon’s defence. A few minutes later came an impressive penalty save from Joe Bursik to keep Daggers at bay.
A double change was made by Mark Robinson on the hour with Nick Akoto and Callum Phillip replacing Nelson-Roberts and Cockle. Other substitutions followed with Antwi and Great Nii Okai Evans on for Carpene and Williams-Bowers.
Following a change in shape for Wimbledon, the visitors pulled one back when Tyrique Hyde got the first of his two goals going into the last quarter. Hyde, the son of Daggers coach and former Watford midfielder Micah, came on as a substitute in the first-team friendly between the two clubs last month.
Though Bursik was required to play a greater role in the game, Wimbledon carved Daggers open again and extended the advantage when Antwi calmly slotted past the Daggers keeper with just under a quarter of an hour to go.
In a frantic finale, Walker got a deserved goal for his efforts by lifting the ball over the keeper, only for Hyde to round off an entertaining match with a last-gasp consolation.
AFC Wimbledon: Bursik, Walker, Sibbick (Ainsley), Urhoghide, Scott, Chapman, Hartigan, Cockle, (Phillip), Nelson-Roberts (Akoto), Williams-Bowers, (Evans) Carpene, (Antwi).