Under-18s warm up for new season with thrilling victory
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s held off a determined Scandinavian challenge to secure an entertaining pre-season friendly on Wednesday.
Norwegian visitors Ranheim threatened to draw level after Wimbledon had raced into a 3-0 half-time lead, but the young Dons just prevailed with a 4-2 win.
Wimbledon marched into the lead after just three minutes when Reece Williams-Bowers earned the ultimate reward after putting pressure on the Ranheim goalkeeper. It was 2-0 nine minutes later when Great Nii Okai Evans sent over a fine cross that was converted at the back post by trialist Callum Phillip.
Just before half-time, it appeared to be game over when Louie Cockle’s smart lay-off set-up Evans, who finished clinically. However, Ranheim fought back in the second-half and two goals from penalty kicks raised hopes among the tourists that they could earn a share of the spoils. Wimbledon kept their composure though and a header from Tino Carpene four minutes from time sealed victory.
“In the second-half we started really slowly,” said manager Mark Robinson. "We tried to change formation, but a couple of new lads we had in didn’t really understand the shape and that’s why we conceded two cheap penalties. In the last 25 minutes we got back on top and we could have had five or six, but one of our targets at half-time was to keep a clean sheet after being so dominant.
“I was really pleased with the first-half as we were taking on an Under-19 side who were big and physical. We moved the ball well and created lots of chances, which resulted in the three goals. I was a little bit disappointed with our defending from set pieces as they had good chances and one of those required a good save from Joe Bursik.
"Overall, I thought we moved the ball really well, looked effective and looked solid at the back. I was pleased. It was definitely a step in the right direction and there are just a few more things to iron out, which hopefully we will see in our remaining friendly on Saturday.”
That final pre-season game for the Under-18s is at home to Matlock Under-19s on Saturday, before the young Dons face Southend United away in their first Football League Youth Alliance match on 6 August.