Positive workout for under-18s against supporters in annual opener
Reece Wiliams-Bowers notched a hat-trick as AFC Wimbledon under-18s got their pre-season underway with victory over the Wimbledon Supporters team.
Nathan Woods, Nick Akiotu, Ethan Roberts, Jayden Antwi and Tino Carpene were also on target for the young Dons, who won 8-0 at an early stage in their preparations. The annual opener ended as expected for Mark Robinson’s academy prospects, but it still proved to be a useful exercise for both sides at Southfields College.
“As always it's good to meet the fans team for our annual game,” said Mark. “I believe it acts as perfect fitness preparation for their tournament coming up soon. For us, after a tough two weeks training, it's great for the lads to have plenty of touches on the ball and have to make lots of decisions.”
“"From our point of view, it's great for all of us in the supporters' team to get to see it up close,” said Supporters player-manager Dan Stevens. “Even if we are on the end of a heavy defeat!”
“Never in any other game do we have so little possession of the ball, so for us it's a different type of challenge in terms of discipline and shape as we aim to deal with near constant attacks.”
“Unlike other years we scored five goals in the first half,” added Mark. “Normally most of the goals come later in the game when our supporters start to get heavy legged. I think that was a positive as we moved the ball quickly and showed some good invention to score goals. We played well second half, but the boys did not adapt well enough to the different defensive obstacle they faced.”
“Unsurprisingly, it's always by a million miles our toughest game of the season,” responded Dan who usually plays on the left-wing for the supporters, but was the lone forward on this occasion. “We’re up against players with such a high level of both technical ability and fitness, players who have a great opportunity to go on to have good careers in the game. Robbo, as ever, has his team very organised and playing a pleasing style of football that will no doubt serve our club well in the seasons ahead.”
“Despite the result, all our players gave a very good account of themselves, and the experience will serve us well as we take two sides up to WorldNet (the annual national Supporters' tournament) in Preston in a couple of weeks."
After the memorable FA Youth Cup run against Watford, Newcastle United and Chelsea last season, Mark’s class of 2016/17 have a big challenge ahead of them for their next game.
“We have plenty to work on this week before we have a really tough test against Walton Casuals first team on Saturday. Myself, my staff and all the boys wish the supporters team the very best of luck in their tournament in Preston,” said the Academy Head of Coaching.