Promising display from Wimbledon's youngsters
An impressive performance from our Under-21s just failed to yield the ultimate reward at Barnet today.
minute appeared to be enough for victory in a Central League Cup group match at The Hive, but Joe Payne levelled matters in the latter stages and it ended 1-1.thJudah Chapman’s goal in the 68
Manager Alan Reeves always demands all-action performances from the development squad and this display on a boggy pitch certainly fulfilled those requirements. The only criticism was that Wimbledon squandered a host of chances on the day.
minute when a well delivered corner from Neset Bellikli picked out George Oakley, but he headed wide. Seth Owens did find the target shortly afterwards when he headed home a well-executed free-kick from Egli Kaja, but it was ruled out for offside. With a high pressing game forcing Barnet into mistakes, Wimbledon dominated the first-half and looked solid at the back too with Joe McDonnell claiming crosses when he was called into action.thFollowing a cagey start, Wimbledon sprung to life in the 12
Under-18 midfielder Chapman, who was handed a start after his fine displays in the FA Youth Cup run, looked well at home alongside Dan Gallagher, and he sent through a lovely ball that fed Toyosi Olusanya, but his claims for a penalty were turned down. As the first-half progressed, Wimbledon began to really spread the ball about effectively and a fine move involving Kaja and Oakley set-up a shooting chance for Olusanya, but his shot was blocked.
Right midfielder Kaja, who showed glimpses of the form that earned him first-team appearances in 2014/15, came close to opening the scoring when he cut inside and had a crack at goal, but it was saved by the Barnet goalkeeper. On the other flank, Bellikli showed plenty of quality throughout the game, particularly utilising his impressive crossing ability. Oakley had another chance to open the scoring just before the break, but he headed wide and a half-time score of 0-0 certainly flattered Barnet.
The second-half opened with Johnville Renee-Pringle having an effort held by the keeper. Recent signing Renee-Pringle often combined well with Kaja, offering a solid right side for the Dons. Barnet came more into it at the start of the second-half and David Tutonda came close to equalising for the hosts, but it was not a sign of things to come as Wimbledon continued to have the better of it. Another lovely cross from Bellikli set-up Kaja at the back post, but he headed over the crossbar.
With an hour on the clock, striker Jayden Antwi entered the fray for Olusanya – and it didn’t take long for the substitute to make an impact. Wimbledon’s top scorer at Under-18 level turned provider when he twisted and turned to create space on the left, before sending over a great cross that Chapman diverted in via the crossbar with an athletic finish. The opener had certainly been overdue, just minutes before Bellikli was put through one-on-one, but he shot wide after more lovely play by Kaja.
Wimbledon did not settle for just the one and a fine lob to the back post from Bellikli just evaded everyone in the middle. A second goal just would not come as the match entered its final stages and Barnet punished Wimbledon for failing to make the most of their opportunities. With three minutes to go, Joe Payne was allowed too much space on the left to run through on goal and he produced a lovely finish that left Joe McDonnell with no chance. Having to settle for a share of the spoils was harsh on Wimbledon, but it had certainly been a positive afternoon with several Under-18s producing impressive performances after being called up by Alan Reeves.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonell, Johnville Renee-Pringle, Seth Owens, Paul Kalambayi, Toby Sibbick, Dan Gallagher, Egli Kaja (Nathan Wood), Judah Chapman, George Oakley (Reece Williams-Bowers), Toyosi Olusanya (Jayden Antwi), Neset Bellikli.