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Hartigan treble lifts Dons

31 October 2016

Perfect warm-up for cup tie on Tuesday

AFC Wimbledon Under-18s marched to a morale-boosting victory ahead of tomorrow’s FA Youth Cup tie by proving too strong for Milton Keynes.

A hat-trick from Anthony Hartigan led the charge in a 4-0 win with Jayden Antwi also on target. Click on the link above to watch video highlights from the victory.

In a bright start for Wimbledon at MK, Hartigan came tantalisingly close to notching a goal of the season contender with a 50-yard effort that beat the goalkeeper, but flashed inches over. However, Hartigan was not to be denied when he latched onto a pass from the lively Callum Phillip and found the net with a lovely 20-yard strike. Better was to come from Hartigan as he scored with a superb curler from a free-kick after the impressive Reece Williams-Bowers had earned the set-piece.

It was nearly 3-0 when Antwi put over a fine cross that Tino Carpene just failed to reach, before another Hartigan strike from distance whistled over the crossbar. On the rare occasions when MK mounted first-half attacks, the Dons defensive quartet of Paul Kalamabayi, Toby Sibbick, Tom Scott and Nick Akotu offered stern resistance. It was 3-0 10 minutes before half-time when Phillip was tripped in the area and Hartigan stepped up to complete a memorable first-half hat-trick.

With MK enjoying a lot more possession, manager Mark Robinson decided to change the formation and it meant that Wimbledon started winning more balls out wide to take control of the game again. The second-half started with Sean Bird replacing the excellent Sibbick, who had scored four days earlier for the development squad against Peterborough. Though the hosts improved after the interval, a Wimbledon counter-attack almost earned number four when Hartigan found Carpene at the far post, but he struck the side netting.

With 20 minutes remaining, a brilliant through ball from Williams-Bowers sent Antwi clear and when he was sent sprawling in the box, the only outcome was a penalty. Antwi made no mistake from 12 yards to make it 4-0. Mark Robinson made four changes in the latter stages with Great Nii Okai Evans, Ethan Roberts, Antonio Walker and Osaze Urhoghide replacing Antwi, Carpene, Akotu and Phillip. A fifth just eluded the visitors with Williams-Bowers striking the crossbar, but it had been a fine overall display from Wimbledon.

Mark Robinson said: “I was very pleased with the first-half. They love to control possession so we played a formation that enabled us to be in control of the ball. For most of the first-half we had not just more possession, but the most effective possession. In the second-half they changed things and tried to hurt us out wide.

“I thought we could score on the counter-attack, but I wanted the boys to keep a clean sheet so 15 minutes into the second-half we changed formation. Although we did not play the football we played in the first-half, we regained control and always looked a threat. It was a very pleasing overall performance, but all I am interested in is that they maintain their focus. This will allow them to fulfil their huge potential individually and as a team.”

Man of the Match for Wimbledon was Antonio Hartigan.

Spectators are welcome to cheer on our Under-18s against North Greenford United in the FA Youth Cup tomorrow night (7.30 pm kick-off). It will be £5 entry for adults and free for Under-18s to attend the match on Tuesday at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.

We wish to thank Keith Clark for putting together the highlights from Saturday.

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