Report: Under-18s beaten by Northampton
A man of the match performance from Judah Chapman was not enough to prevent a third successive league defeat for AFC Wimbledon Under-18s.
By the time Chapman struck a fine goal, the Dons were already two down to Northampton and it ended in a 2-1 win for the visitors at our training ground.
It could have been very different as the Dons were denied a penalty just 15 seconds into the game. In-form Reece Williams-Bowers was picked out in the box by Sean Bird, but the referee waved away appeals that he had been barged off the ball.
minute when Wimbledon failed to deal with a long ball and Bursik brought down Joe Iaciofano, who made no mistake with the subsequent spot-kick.ndThe Dons fell behind shortly afterwards when Joe Bursik saved well, but Ben Toseland followed up to convert the rebound. A good response followed from Wimbledon with Chapman, Nathan Wood and Williams-Bowers all looking threatening in attack. However, it was 2-0 in the 32
Wimbledon were back in it just two minutes later with a goal of real quality as Wood and Williams-Bowers combined to set-up Chapman, who finished superbly from 12 yards with his left foot. It remained 2-1 to Northampton until half-time and the visitors threatened to increase the advantage in the first 10 minutes after the break.
The Dons started to come back into it at around the hour mark and it was so nearly 2-2 when Williams-Bowers rattled the crossbar from 25 yards out. Substitutions followed for Wimbledon with Ethan Roberts, Callum Phillips and Tino Carpene introduced for Antonio Walker, Sean Bird and Jayden Antwi.
Paul Kalambayi twice headed wide in the closing stages, before Antonio Hartigan, Roberts and Phillips were all denied by good saves. Great Nii-Okai Evans entered the fray for the outstanding Williams-Bowers eight minutes from time and Wimbledon threw everything at Northampton, but a late equaliser eluded the young Dons.
Mark Robinson said: “The boys are naturally feeling very flat right now. Every week they are having better possession and when we watch the analysis back, we are creating good chances with our keepers very much spectators in a lot of games. Every week we have looked vulnerable and prone to mistakes. That was not really the case today, but Northampton have not had to work hard enough for their goals. With the first one we got beaten far too easily in a basic defensive situation and the second one is a gift.
“The challenge now is to maintain the self-belief among the boys. We have a very different group this year and their learning goals are very different. However, I saw improvements today in many off the ball aspects that needed to be rectified. They need to realise that they are learning their trade and remain focused. They will come out of this as stronger characters and better players tactically as their talent is not in doubt. It does not get any easier as we face Luton next week and they always put out their strongest available team. We could once again be without players due to U-21 football so I look forward to the boys relishing the challenge that faces them.”