Report from Under-18s versus Southend
Mark Robinson was angry with the performance of AFC Wimbledon’s youngsters on Saturday and he said that a stronger mentality is required if they want to be a part of the club’s future.
Speaking after a 2-1 home defeat for our Under-18s to Southend United on Saturday, Mark was particularly disappointed with the reaction from his squad after the 8-1 FA Youth Cup victory against North Greenford.
Therefore, despite making six changes from Tuesday, I was looking forward to watching our squad perform and continue the momentum. “On Tuesday night I had tough decisions about who to leave out,” said Mark. “But the boys who played for the U-21s on Monday night and those who came off the bench on Tuesday did very well.
“I talked to the boys about not lacking intensity after Tuesday’s game at the stadium and staying in the zone. Regrettably, it appears my words fell on deaf ears. The first half we were passive and lacked any conviction and detail in anything we did. We started the second half brighter, but it soon dropped off. Our organisation leading up to their first goal was embarrassing for this level of football.
“After the substitutions, we were a little better and scored a good goal. I thought we would probably go on to win, but once again our lack of team cohesion and willingness to press together meant we got opened up and we conceded from a corner.
“I get angry with the mentality shown after a game in our stadium in front of a crowd. Often your next performance may lack some sparkle as it feels like a come down. It shows a weak mentality, makes me question why they play this great game, and is certainly not a trait I want associated with our football club. I find it very difficult to find a positive, other than despite being poor throughout, we still probably should have got some sort of result. I will be looking for a huge response from Monday onwards.”
Wimbledon started brightly on Saturday by putting together good passing moves, but Southend grew into the game and a lack of cohesion from the Dons did not help their cause.
It was a first-half of few chances, but Southend looked the likelier to open the scoring before half-time. Though Great Nii Okai Evans and Ethan Nelson-Roberts came close to breaking the deadlock after the break, Southend took the lead with a poor goal from a Dons perspective. After failing to deal with a throw-in, Wimbledon twice had chances to clear from the subsequent cross but failed to do so and Southend punished the defensive slackness.
In response, the Dons made five changes with Jayden Antwi, Reece Bowers, Antonio Walker, Judah Chapman and Nathan Woods all entering the fray. The changes helped Wimbledon gain the upper hand and it was 1-1 with 10 minutes to go. Toby Sibbick got down the wing and sent over a lovely right-wing cross that was met brilliantly by Antwi with his effort finding the net via the crossbar.
The Dons now looked firm favourites to go on and win it, but two minutes later a lack of organisation led to a corner for Southend and the visitors punished more bad marking to notch the winner. Though Antwi just failed to reach a Sibbick cross for the equaliser, it was a case of too little, too late, from Wimbledon.
Anthony Hartigan earned the man of the match award.