Report: U-18s beaten in friendly match
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s resume league action at Northampton on Saturday with manager Mark Robinson demanding more from his squad after a friendly defeat to Kinetic Academy.
A 4-2 loss at the training ground came against a team with good recent pedigree as Kinetic finished as runners-up in the Gothia Cup, held in China, but Mark wanted his players to take more responsibility after recent league defeats.
"We said very little from the sidelines as we wanted the players to take control of the game and they did show improvements,” said Mark. “At 2-2, we were bright and on top, but again we've made little errors and our reactions still aren't what they need to be. At this stage, we are not doing enough of the right things all the time. That's kind of eroding what we're doing and we've just got to get those details right.
"We have very good progression of under 18 players into the under 21s so obviously you are going to miss those boys. We still have plenty of talent left in our small squad, but we just lack leadership skills and it is affecting the confidence of the boys. It's not an easy task as leadership skills have to come from within, but we will get there. We have plenty of other talent in the squad capable of moving up to under-21 football.”
Jack Wingate’s return after injury provided a much-needed vocal presence at the back and the young Dons made a bright start. Reece Williams-Bowers (pictured) continued his impressive form with the opener after just a minute gone and the advantage was so nearly doubled when Anthony Hartigan came close from a free-kick. Jayden Antwi also forced a save from the Kinetic goalkeeper.
Wimbledon were tested after 13 minutes for the first time when Wingate made a fine save to divert the ball behind, but from the subsequent corner Rhys Norrington claimed the first of his two goals to level. Though Antwi headed over after Hartigan and Louie Cockle combined from a short corner routine, Kinetic snatched the lead from another corner, Norrington-Davies again applying the finish.
It was evident by half-time that Wimbledon were struggling with the physical approach of their opponents and the half-time team-talk was much needed.
Goalkeeper Josef Bursik and outfield players Louie Ainsley, Eric De Melo Calheiros, Callum Phillip, Antonio Walker, Tino Carpene and Great Nii Okai Evans were all introduced as substitutes with Wimbledon switching to a 4-4-2.
It was 2-2 when Evans won a one-on-one with the Kinetic goalkeeper to net a goal just six minutes after entering the fray.
Osaze Urhoghide was forced to come back on for the injured Nick Akoto. Composure and organisation returned to Wimbledon’s play as time wore on and the hosts came close when Walker's cross to the foot of Carpene forced the keeper into a save on the line.
With 19 minutes to go, Kinetic regained the lead with a Levy Soulam header at the far post from yet another corner. Evans almost got on the end of a well-worked free-kick to make it 3-3, but two minutes later Lyke Nzema effectively sealed victory.
AFC Wimbledon: Wingate, Scott, Bird, Urhoghide, Akoto, Nelson-Roberts, Cockle, Hartigan, Chapman, Williams-Bowers, Antwi. Substitutes (all introduced at start of second half): Bursik, Ainsley, De Melo Calheiros, Phillip, Walker, Carpene, Nii Okai Evans.