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Hersey strike earns Dons creditable draw against Spanish giants

Academy round off tour with memorable night in Madrid

11 August 2017

A quick-fire second half response by Dylan Hersey help set-up a memorable night for the young Dons as they drew with their Atletico Madrid counterparts.

Hersey's top corner finish made certain Wimbledon's Academy tour finished on a high as they clinched a 1-1 draw against the junior side of one of the Spanish giants.

A proud Head of Football Mark Robinson said afterwards: "Not that long ago we were in charge of teams that were, with due respect, playing Epsom Eagles and Sheen Lions and now we've played at Atletico Madrid's training ground - with Simeone taking a training session on a pitch 50 yards away with the likes of Griezmann and Torres.

"Our under-18s have just got a creditable result against a side with certain players who are being touted as being European superstars of the future. It was a special moment for the Academy and the club, but the players and all the Academy staff need to make sure it's more than just that."

"A few days back I could not have ever imagined them pulling off this result but tonight they were phenomenal and the last 48 hours they have made great strides in understanding what we expect of them individually and I hope how they felt after the game now pushes them on to keep their standards high and make the most of the opportunity they have in front of them," said Mark.

The young Dons had a very early test of their mentality as their pre-arranged seven o clock kick-off was moved to 6.30pm. They started well by pressing Atletico at every opportunity and disrupting their flow. However, they lost Reece Weekes who had started brightly after ten minutes and Finn McNab had to step into an unfamiliar wing back role.

As the half moved on, the Dons grew in confidence and were now having good moments of possession and looking a threat with Donte Lodge-Francis creating a lot of good work for the Dons up front and Ossama Ashley and Ethan Nelson- Roberts holding their own in midfield. They had to remain on alert though for Atletico's quick attacking play, but goalkeeper Edward Ogbebor-Onaiwu was only called into action once more for the Dons before half time.

The second half had started well for Wimbledon, but on 49 minutes the Dons thought they had won a free kick on the edge of the Madrid penalty area. Bizarrely it was given the other way and the tourists were caught napping.

Atletico's quickly mounted attack was dealt with by the excellent Dean Perana, but his back pass was not dealt with well enough by Ogbebor-Onaiwu and his wayward kick went central. With a quick pass, Atletico sent their striker clean through and he slotted past the keeper to give the hosts the lead.

The Dons responded quickly though and on 51 minutes a good move saw the lively Tyler Burey released by Ritchie Mbele. Burey beat his man and delivered a good cross that Evans could not quite make contact with, however the ball fell invitingly 20 yards out to the excellent Hersey who fired brilliantly into the top corner.

The Dons then made changes with Rueben Collins, Bobby Mills and Jamil Awoyejo all entering the contest. With Atletico making eight changes at half time it became increasingly difficult for the Dons to get hold of the ball, but with excellent off the ball shape they restricted their hosts to very few clear openings.

In the final minute after stifling another Atletico attack Hersey was released down the left, but his cross did not quite reach Mills as the Dons nearly pulled off the unimaginable. The Dons held on to earn a very respectable draw and received rapturous applause from the mainly Spanish crowd at the final whistle.

"I have learnt so much about the new players that have come in to the under-18s for this season and to be honest a lot of them have found the demands on and off the pitch very difficult," said Mark

"It was an outstanding performance and result in normal circumstances, but then you also take into account the lads had to play two games in less than 23 hours with a squad of 16 players and we were a year younger in terms of sixty per cent of our players - it was a massive performance."

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