FA Youth Cup players step up for under-21s
Development coach Alan Reeves praised centre-back pairing Paul Kalambayi and Toby Sibbick after they stepped up to help keep a clean sheet in the league match at Leyton Orient.
Both players, who were part of Mark Robinson’s side that reached the fifth round proper of this season’s FA Youth Cup, coped well against more senior opposition as they came away from The Matchroom Stadium with a point.
“They were excellent,” said Alan as his squad maintained their challenge at the top end of the Final Third Development League. “I had no doubt in my mind they would be. They were up against Ollie Palmer who played against our first team and I knew he would be a handful, but I told them it would be a test and to pit themselves against players they need to in order to improve and they both did really, really well.”
“We had five of the under-18s out there to start off with. I was a bit apprehensive as I spoke to their manager before and they had six first-team squad players playing which was always going to be a test, but I said to our boys that they are not going to fancy playing against ten outfield lads running around with loads of energy, enthusiasm and endeavour and as it turned out they didn’t like it,” he added.
“I’ve told all of them that I’m really proud of them as they were playing against a really experienced, strong outfit and for a lot of them it’s the first time they’ll have played here and they’ve looked like they’ve enjoyed it, they’ve stuck to the task well and taken to it like a duck to water.”
Alan also praised the contribution of goalkeeper James Shea, Wimbledon’s most experienced player in the line-up.
a lot of experience in this side. His positional sense was great, his kicking was excellent and I think if you’re not getting games for the first team then you need to still be playing football.” “The thing is with James is that he’s very keen, he’s very vocal and he was a leader on the pitch that can help out these younger lads because there wasn’t
It was the Dons first competitive fixture for two months and they now face another month without a league game, although the coach is thinking of slotting in a friendly nearer the time.
“He’s said to me he’s played three times for the 21s and he hasn’t conceded a goal yet. I think that’s our sixth league game and we’ve only conceded three goals. We’re difficult to play against and with the pace we’ve got up front we’re always likely to score a goal.”
The full interview with Alan Reeves is now available to Dons Player subscribers.