Striker increases fitness for development squad
Ade Azeez boosted his match sharpness with a 70-minute run-out as an AFC Wimbledon development side pushed Swansea Under-21s all the way today.
A first-half goal from Botti Biabi earned a hard-fought 1-0 friendly win for Swansea, but Dons development coach Alan Reeves was pleased with his side’s effort and application against youngsters from a Premier League club.
In particular, it was a useful fitness exercise for Azeez, who had made several impressive substitute appearances for the first-team recently.
Conditions were not great with the wind and a bobbly pitch, but there were some good performances out there. “It was a proper test,” said Alan. “With some Under-21 sides from Premier League clubs it’s all slow, slow, slow in their approach, but Swansea were in our faces and we had to work hard to match them. I was disappointed with the goal we conceded, but we had not played for seven weeks. A lot of the boys got 90 minutes and I thought Ade worked his socks off.
“All the Under-18s who came in did a good job and acquitted themselves well against a Premier League club’s Under-21 side. Mark Robinson was keen to get minutes into Jayden Antwi ahead of the FA Youth Cup tie and I was happy to do that.”
minute. Sam Evans broke free down Wimbledon’s left and put over a cross that Biabi met with a first-time effort at the near post to beat Joe McDonnell.thIn a match played at our training ground, Swansea netted what turned out to be the winner in the 12
The pace of Azeez had caused problems early on for Swansea’s defence and he almost had a chance to equalise after Neset Bellikli sent over a superb delivery from a free-kick, but a Swansea defender just got there first. Then Tom Beere’s corner fell nicely for Christian Toonga on the edge of the area and his effort was cleared off the line.
Liam Shephard, who played for Swansea’s first-team in the FA Cup defeat at Oxford United, showed his quality and the visitors produced fleeting moments of class on the ball. However, the Dons were still well in it as half-time approached and good play down the flank by Toyosi Olusanya set-up a half chance for Azeez, but on this occasion his control let him down.
Though Biabi was denied by McDonnell at the start of the second-half, Wimbledon gradually started to have the better of it. Bellikli’s crossing was a potent weapon and one of his deliveries was just beaten out by the Swansea goalkeeper as the Dons pressed. Beere, Toonga and Gallagher also started to gain a share of possession in midfield after a first-half when Swansea had the better of it.
Alan Reeves made a double change just after the hour with Nathan Wood and Jayden Antwi introduced for Bellikli and Olusanya. That breathed new life into Wimbledon and the hosts had vociferous claims for a penalty turned down shortly afterwards. Lovely play down the left by Azeez ended with a ball across the face of goal and George Pilbeam appeared to get there first before being hauled down, but the referee was unimpressed.
Antwi was a threat when he came on and he headed just over from a corner, before the same player came so close to latching onto a long ball from Callum Wilson before the goalkeeper. Wood, who impressed as a substitute with his crossing and dribbling, also had an effort saved, but late pressure failed to yield an equaliser.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Callum Wilson, George Pilbeam, Ryan Sweeney, David Omperon, Tom Beere, Dan Gallagher, Christian Toonga (Alfie Egan), Neset Bellikli (Nathan Wood), Toyosi Olusanya (Jayden Antwi), Ade Azeez (trialist).