Defender scores with first touch on return
Returning defender Dom Bongo put five months of frustration behind him with a goal to help AFC Wimbledon Under-18s to victory at Plymouth Argyle.
Bongo (pictured), who had missed the majority of this season through injury, scored with his first touch after getting on the end of a cross from Reece Williams-Bowers – and his celebrations with Academy therapist Jenna Richards showed what it meant!
The 3-1 victory on Friday in Devon made it nine league games unbeaten for the Under-18s, who have kicked on again since that gallant exit from the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea.
Perseverance from Reece Williams-Bowers earned the opener as he forced Plymouth goalkeeper Cory Harvey into a rushed kick and capitalised when the ball came into his path with a clinical finish.
It was a short-lived lead though as Plymouth bounced back with an equaliser and the score remained 1-1 at the half-time break.
With Seanan McKillop entering the fray for the second-half, Wimbledon took a tighter grip on midfield and eight minutes after the break it was 2-1. The impressive Nathan Wood released Jayden Antwi, who got the better of his marker with a lovely turn of pace and finished well from 10 yards.
A raft of substitutions were made by manager Mark Robinson around the hour mark with Judah Chapman replacing Louie Cockle, Dom Bongo on for Reece Batchelor, and Toyosi Olusanya entering the fray for Antonio Walker. It was then time for Bongo’s memorable moment as he sealed victory, but Wimbledon’s other defenders also made key contributions with goalkeeper Jack Wingate untroubled.
Toby Sibbick, Antwi, Olusanya and Wood all had opportunities to increase the advantage, but three was enough for the young Dons to extend a superb recent run.
Man of the Match for Wimbledon was Paul Kalambayi.
Mark Robinson said: “We left the club at 6.00 am on Friday, but we always try and use these types of experiences as part of the learning process. In a similar way to our preparations for Torquay away last season, we discussed how we could turn what looked like a negative journey into a positive experience. The squad certainly did that and helped each other out, the boys living locally putting up team-mates who have longer journeys in on the Thursday night. We also got them to take control of their dietary requirements for the journey.
“We were not at our best in the first-half, but Plymouth were very good and we were trying out a new shape to cause their 4-4-2 problems. It did not quite work out, but it provide another positive leaning opportunity for the lads. We changed shape second-half and I thought we were very good as we caused Plymouth lots of problems, scoring two good goals, and we managed to keep a very lively side down to a couple of half chances in the second-half.
“We rotated again from the team that beat Luton and our starting line-up contained nine first-year scholars. We will continue with this policy as well as looking for opportunities to give Under-16s a chance to step-up.”
Picture credit: Rob Cornell.