Under-18s round off a superb week
There was no stopping AFC Wimbledon Under-18s yet again today as the young Dons rounded off a fantastic week with victory at Milton Keynes.
Louie Cockle and George Marchant got the goals in a 2-1 win and Nathan Wood (pictured) was man of the match, but manager Mark Robinson saluted his whole squad after a third victory in just five days, including that memorable FA Youth Cup win at St James’ Park.
Just two players that started at Newcastle United were included from the outset at Milton Keynes, but the winning habit was once again maintained.
minute when Judah Chapman took a short corner to find Cockle, who curled home superbly from 25 yards.thThe young Dons came through a difficult start in Buckinghamshire with goalkeeper Jack Wingate required to make two excellent saves in the first 10 minutes. However, Wimbledon made the breakthrough in style in the 12
Just before the half hour mark Milton Keynes drew level when clever movement from Connor Furlong produced a shooting chance after a free-kick and he finished well from 19 yards. What followed was a fine response from Wimbledon with Wood, Antonio Walker and Reece Williams-Bowers getting on the ball to create chances.
Bowers and Chapman both came close, before Tino Carpene’s fine header from a cross by Cockle was superbly saved by MK goalkeeper Andrew McCorkell.
The Dons marched back in front just before half-time when another well-worked set-piece resulted in Marchant heading home Chapman’s delivery. Mark Robinson decided to give 15-year-old Osaze Urhoghide an opportunity shortly into the second-half when he replaced Reece Batchelor, who had continued his comeback after long-term injury with another excellent display.
Just before the hour, the impressive Cockle was replaced by Nick Akoto as the Dons switched from a 3-5-2 to a 4-1-4-1. That change helped Wimbledon regain more possession again and stopped the hosts building any momentum. However, after Mark Robinson had utilised his last substitution with Toyosi Olusanya replacing Carpene, there was a cruel twist. The impressive Bowers was brought down by a heavy challenge and as he was unable to continue Wimbledon had to play the last 20 minutes with 10 men.
Though Wingate had to remain alert in the Wimbledon goal, Chapman and Olusanya both came close to sealing victory in the latter stages. However, two was enough to seal a great week for the AFC Wimbledon academy.
Mark Robinson said: “To win three games in a week with the amount of travelling involved is really pleasing. Although I only started two lads who played on Wednesday, everyone travelled up to Newcastle. Those who missed out on the Newcastle game had also played against Barnet on Tuesday. It was an early kick-off today so the boys were up before 5.00 am after not getting to bed until 6.00 am on Thursday.
“The shift that they put in today and the concentration they showed when we went down to 10 men was very professional and shows they are starting to understand the mentality we demand. We had a very productive and interactive meeting on Friday to discuss the potential dangers of the FA Youth Cup run. We discussed how varying situations and scenarios could affect their focus and development individually and as a squad.
“I am happy to say they are coming up with most of the scenarios and answers about how to deal with potential problems. From what I saw today they have currently got a grasp of the kind of mentality required to give themselves a chance of developing. Long may that continue.”