Under-18s clinch third round place
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s marched into the third round of the FA Youth Cup with a convincing victory against Bristol Rovers tonight.
Goals from Toby Sibbick, Reece Williams-Bowers and Jayden Antwi (pictured) secured a 3-0 win that sets up a tough tie at Huddersfield Town in the next round.
The match was overshadowed by a serious injury to Rovers player Sam Blake, who was stretchered off early in the first-half.
Taking on a side who had knocked out Oxford United in the last round, AFC Wimbledon knew that a fast start was important and Jayden Antwi had a great chance to open the scoring. The in-form striker powered through on goal, but Rovers goalkeeper Kieran Hodges reacted well to save. From the subsequent corner, Sean Bird rose highest in the box, but his soaring header flashed just wide.
minute that rendered matters on the pitch as secondary. Rovers player Sam Blake went down under a challenge and there was a lengthy stoppage for him to receive treatment. As Blake was stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle, there was warm applause from the spectators.thHowever, there was a sickening incident in the 12
With both sides now having to focus on the football again after a lengthy delay, Nathan Wood came close to opening the scoring with a powerful drive, but Hodges got down well to save. Wimbledon certainly had the better of it in the first half an hour, but Rovers showed their danger with James Spruce firing just wide. However, that was a rare sight of goal for Rovers as Paul Kalambayi and Sibbick offered stern resistance at the back.
With the likes of Anthony Hartigan, Reece Williams-Bowers and Nathan Wood getting on the ball regularly, Wimbledon established good possession, but the ultimate reward resulted from a free-kick. Tom Scott swung in a free-kick from the left and when Man of the Match Judah Chapman headed it on, Sibbick cracked home emphatically from close-range. Buoyed by the opener, it was all Wimbledon now and a lovely ball by Wood so nearly gave Antwi a chance, but he was just eased out before he could get there.
A fine Dons move involving Wood almost ended with the advantage doubled as Williams-Bowers raced through, but his shot lacked power and he was denied by Hodges. However, there was no stopping Williams-Bowers in first-half injury-time as he forced the ball home at the second attempt after a great ball in from the right by Sibbick. Wimbledon had chances to make it three before the break with Antwi and Kalambayi both heading over, but two was enough for the Dons to be well in control at the break.
Wimbledon started the second-half well and Wood had a chance to make it three, but he shot wide, albeit from an acute angle. However, the Dons needed Joseph Bursik to make a brilliant save shortly afterwards when he showed great athleticism to tip over a header from Jordan Carey. As we approached the midway point of the second-half, Wimbledon had coped well with attempts from Rovers to get back into the game. Instead of storming forward in search of a third goal, Wimbledon managed the game well to curtail the threat from Rovers.
With 15 minutes left, Wimbledon pushed on and twice came close to sealing a place in the next round. After Antwi was denied by Hodges, the Rovers keeper made an even better save when he reacted superbly to tip over an acrobatic kick from Chapman. At the other end, Wimbledon were nearly punished for a defensive lapse by Paul Kalambayi, who gave away a free-kick just outside the area. Connor James stepped up and curled wide with a decent effort and Rovers were now beginning to run out of time.
Despite a second-half improvement from Rovers, Wimbledon appeared well in control of matters and substitute Ethan Nelson-Roberts was denied by Hodges near the end. It was only a temporary reprieve for Rovers though with Antwi rounding off victory in style. Picking up the ball just outside the Rovers penalty area, Antwi produced a lovely turn, before guiding the ball expertly past Hodges. There was so nearly an even better goal shortly afterwards. Spotting Hodges off his line, Williams-Bowers looked up from 35 yards out and struck a brilliant lob that the goalkeeper did well to tip over the crossbar. It was so nearly the icing on the cake, but three goals and an impressive overall display offered encouragement for a much harder task in the next round.
AFC Wimbledon: Joseph Bursik, Nathan Wood (Nick Akoto), Paul Kalambayi, Toby Sibbick, Tom Scott, Sean Bird, Anthony Hartigan, Judah Chapman (Valentino Carpene), Antonio Walker (Ethan Nelson-Roberts), Reece Williams-Bowers, Jayden Antwi.
Under-18s manager Mark Robinson afterwards wished Rovers player Sam Blake all the best in his recovery after his serious injury in tonight’s game.