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Mark calls for leadership

5 September 2016

Report: U-18s beaten for second game in succession

Under-18s manager Mark Robinson called for more leadership in his squad after the young Dons suffered a home defeat against Cambridge United on Saturday.

A double from Matthew Foy and Ben Worman’s header earned a 3-0 victory for the visitors and Wimbledon need to wait two weeks for a chance to make amends in the Football League Youth Alliance.

“What they need to understand is that I'm giving them the chance to become better players," said Mark Robinson. "Off the ball they need to do more, otherwise they'll never get to where they need to be. It's disappointing because it's a formation (3-5-2) we can play really well, but the boys just need to take responsibility.

"We've got to get some leaders in there. We're lacking leadership skills, but again that is not something you can give them. It's something that's got to come from within.

"It's got nothing to do with the ability of our boys. Until every single one of them can sit in the dressing room, look at their team-mate either side of them and think, 'I can trust you to give me everything no matter what the situation' they will continue to lose football matches they are more than capable of winning.”

The warning signs were there early on for Wimbledon as Cambridge hit the woodwork and had other chances to open the scoring. The Dons had their opportunities too at the other end with Ethan Nelson-Roberts and Tino Carpene threatening to force an opening.

After 10 minutes, Nelson-Roberts had a header saved by the visiting keeper, while the manager tried to restore some order to the Dons defence. It had been a bold approach from the Dons as playing with just three at the back left them open to attack against a 4-3-3 formation, but they looked far more promising in their attacking play with five across the middle and two up front.

Rising talent Osaze Urhoghide needed coaching from Mark on the sidelines as he attempted to get to grips with the defensive formation, while Tom Scott was again alert - on the other side of new addition Sean Bird - as he cleared an attack from just in front of the goal-line.

With half-time approaching and in windy conditions, Wimbledon just about managed to keep Cambridge at bay. Nathan Wood and Reece Williams-Bowers strived to force their way in behind the visitors’ back line.

Wimbledon were almost punished within the first minute of the second half when a shot flashed over Josef Bursik's crossbar. Early indications hinted that Mark Robinson’s half-time team talk had not quite sunk in.

Seven minutes into the half, two of last season's successful squad members combined as a Reece Williams-Bowers cross was met by a low strike from Nathan Wood, but the goalkeeper saved well.

Gradually, Wimbledon grew in confidence and enjoyed their best spell of the game, playing the ball down the flanks well. With the hour mark approaching, Callum Phillip was tripped in the area, but appeals for a penalty were waved away. Skipper Judah Chapman also had a deflected effort on goal on the hour.

The Dons at last started to show some belief as they grew in confidence in front of goal. Antonio Walker came on for Nelson-Roberts after he went down injured after a knock to the head inside the area.

Just as the Dons were looking threatening, they switched off and paid the price for it. Cambridge grabbed the lead through a close-range header from Worman. In response, Jayden Antwi replaced Carpene up front as Wimbledon attempted to quickly restore balance to the score-line. Phillip and Antwi tried to stretch the United defence, but a greater level of concentration was still required.

With seventeen minutes to go, Phillip went on a surging run down the touchline and put the ball on Antwi's head at the far post, but the ball went agonisingly the wrong side of the upright.

It proved to be a costly miss as Cambridge then doubled their lead with a first from Foy. The game then slipped away from the Dons when Foy claimed his second. Wimbledon’s next league game is away at Northampton on 17 September with a friendly game pencilled in for the weekend.

AFC Wimbledon Under-18s: Bursik, Urhoghide, Bird, Scott, Phillip, Chapman, Nelson-Roberts (Walker), Hartigan, Wood, Williams-Bowers, Carpene (Antwi).

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