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Young Dons bow out of cup

27 February 2017

Coach proud of players after narrow loss at Middlesbrough

Alan Reeves said that his players could hold their heads high up high after pushing Middlesbrough all the way in the U-23 Premier League Cup today.

Wimbledon were eliminated in the group stage of the competition after a 1-0 defeat at Bishop Auckland FC, Boro winning by the same score-line at Merstham in December.

However, the Dons matched youngsters from a Premier League set-up for long spells and just failed to net an equaliser after late pressure.

Alan Reeves said: “In the second-half we were well on top and their only chances were on the breakaway. The first-half was pretty even and it was a poor goal to concede from us. We had most of the game in the second-half, without being able to create enough clear-cut chances. I said to the boys afterwards that if they put that effort in every week they will get no complaints from me, or from any other manager. Sometimes football kicks you in the teeth and you don’t get what you deserve. They should be disappointed to lose, but certainly not despondent.”

Wimbledon could have taken the lead early on when George Oakley had a shot blocked and then Egli Kaja (pictured) followed up, but his well struck shot was saved by Middlesbrough keeper Aynsley Pears. It would have been a particularly significant goal for Kaja as he previously played for Middlesbrough’s academy.

minute when Alex Pattison stroked home from close-range with Middlesbrough’s first shot on target. With Middlesbrough pushing on for a second before the break, it needed keeper Nik Tzanev to make a fine save to deny Marcus Tavernier from making it 2-0.thThe hosts scored what turned out to be the winner in the 24

The Dons dominated possession after the break, but they were just unable to make it count. Kaja struck a shot across the face of goal, before Alfie Egan also came close to an equaliser. During the latter stages, Wimbledon exerted plenty of pressure, but Middlesbrough just held on with Pears stopping Oakley’s header in the final minutes.

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Johnville Renee-Pringle, Tom Scott, Toby Sibbick, Paul Kalambayi, Dan Gallagher, Alfie Egan, Egli Kaja, Neset Bellikli (Judah Chapman), Toyosi Olusanya (Jayden Antwi), George Oakley.

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