Young Dons battle back at Pompey
Mark Robinson saluted the performance of Reece Williams-Bowers as “outstanding” after his influential role in a 10-goal thriller against Portsmouth.
An eventful 5-5 draw at Pompey resulted in mixed emotions for U-18 manager Mark Robinson after the gallant FA Youth Cup exit to Chelsea, but there was no doubting the quality of performance from man of the match Williams-Bowers (pictured right above with Mark and Jayden Antwi).
“There were some positive performances on the ball for us and none more so that Reece, who put in one of the most complete performances I’ve seen,” said Mark. “He was outstanding and never stopped running. We could have won it in the end, but quite inexplicably the referee seemed to be under the impression that young Reece dived, despite the impact on his shin pad being louder than his whistle!
“Having made eight changes, we were determined to ensure this game was not a come down after Tuesday night. We played some really good attacking football to get ourselves 3-1 up, but I felt even at that stage we showed complacency and hesitancy in our defending and that’s the way it turned out.
“No disrespect to Pompey, but they did not have to work very hard for their goals. Obviously, we fought our way back, but it offered little comfort for how poor our defending was previously and the lads realise it was unacceptable. The boys badly want to win this Merit League, but to do that as a squad we will need to do a lot better.”
It was never going to be easy for the young Dons against a Pompey side that also bowed out of the FA Youth Cup at the last-16 stage with a defeat to Manchester City. Eight changes for Wimbledon included drafting in goalkeeper Liam Ward on a temporary loan with Jack Wingate and Will Mannion both suffering from illness and U-16 goalkeeper Joe Bursik injured.
The game started in bizarre fashion when Dons defender Paul Kalambayi stopped after hearing a whistle from the adjacent pitch and that allowed Pompey’s Harvey Bradbury to slot home. That produced an excellent response from Wimbledon. Kalambayi played a long ball out of defence that Williams-Bowers latched onto after a brilliantly timed run, but he was sent sprawling in the box. The only outcome was a penalty and Williams-Bowers made no mistake.
The equaliser paved the way for a dominant Wimbledon spell and the visitors were awarded another penalty when the lively Nathan Wood found Jayden Antwi, who was brought down just inside the box and he converted the spot-kick himself. Just after the half hour it was 3-1 when Williams-Bowers set-up Antwi and he smashed home emphatically from 19 yards.
A two-goal advantage did not last long and Pompey got one back just two minutes later when Sam Woodward slotted home and just before the break it was 3-3 when Bradbury scored again. Though the Dons started the second-half well, Pompey marched into the lead when Sam Scutt headed home from a corner.
Mark Robinson, who had already made a change at half-time with Emmenual Mensah replacing the injured Wood, made two more with Toby Sibbick and Jason Stripp on for Kalambayi and Cockle. It appeared to be effectively over though 15 minutes from time when Woodward finished clinically to make it 5-3.
However, the young Dons refused to lie down and six minutes from time they earned a fourth when Antwi and Antonio Walker combined to release Williams-Bowers and his perfect cross fell nicely for Seanan McKillop to score. Deep into injury-time the Dons struck again after more brilliance from Williams-Bowers earned a free-kick 35 yards out on the left. Stripp produced an excellent delivery that picked out David Omperon at the far post and he headed home superbly.