Manager far from disheartened after defeat
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s began the competitive season with a heavy loss at the hands of Southend United, but manager Mark Robinson said he had never felt so optimistic after a resounding defeat.
The Dons were on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline, but on chances created and overall play it could have been so different.
“Defensively I knew it was going to be a tough ask with two of our centre backs Toby Sibbick and Paul Kalambayi training with the Under-21s,” said Mark. “We stepped up young Ruben Collins and had three players playing out of position due to injuries. Despite all of this, we dominated the game for long spells and played some really good attacking football. I have never felt so optimistic after a heavy defeat.
“We made some really naïve mistakes, which led to goals, but Southend were ruthless. About this time last season our two young centre backs stepping up were Paul Kalambayi and Toby Sibbick as we lost 5-0 to Luton. It was the best thing that could have happened to them and it will be the same for the lads who played in this game. They will have learned so much about playing at a higher level.
“I don’t want people to think I have lost the plot because we lost 5-0! However, I have been doing this long enough to know we are going to be in for a very productive season as a team and some very exciting potential will emerge.”
Early on it was all Wimbledon with the visitors forcing five corners in the first 15 minutes and peppering the Southend goal. Nick Akoto had an effort cleared off the line in the first few minutes after good work by Nathan Wood and Jayden Antwi came close to forcing his way through on goal shortly afterwards.
minute. Still, Wimbledon continued to pour forward and Reuben Collins shot just wide. The clinical edge did not desert Southend though and it was 2-0 just before the half hour when Gard turned provider to set-up Jon Benton.thIn a one-way opening spell, Anthony Hartigan also had a good effort saved. However, Southend took the lead against the run of play when Lewis Gard struck in the 17
More good Wimbledon play ended with Antwi having an effort cleared off the line, but it was 3-0 just before the break when Sewa Mara struck.
Following half-time, Wimbledon continued to look for a response, but it just would not come on the day and Marah struck his second just before the hour. A consolation goal eluded Wimbledon in the final stages with Judah Chapman among those to go close and Matt Rush made it five with 15 minutes to go. The young Dons will be aiming to be more ruthless in front of goal on Saturday when they take on Dagenham & Redbridge.
Man of the match for Wimbledon against Southend was Anthony Hartigan.