Clean sheet for Mark's side in Merit League opener
AFC Wimbledon under-18s kicked-off the second-half of their Youth Alliance campaign with another clean sheet, on this occasion at Northampton Town, where striker Great Nii Okai Evans starred for the Dons.
Following their gallant FA Youth Cup run, Mark Robinson’s side found themselves competing in the lower half of the table Merit League for the remainder of this season - with the plan to gradually move players up from the under-16s eventually.
“Despite not getting the victory, I am relatively pleased with the performance,” said Mark afterwards. “We lacked a bit of quality in our final cross at times and we did not look ruthless enough in the final third. It was a very competitive game though with good physicality and we had to be resolute at times.”
“The positives were that we had five players missing that were part of our starting line up in our FA Youth Cup run as well as Dean Perana, who is injured, and has been an excellent influence in league games. That was our seventh clean sheet in a row in the league and the only guarantee in football is if you do not concede you don't lose. We just need to make sure we stay creative, exciting and effective at the other end.”
In a very competitive encounter, the Dons held the upper hand in the first thirty minutes of the first half with Great Evans at the centre of most of the Dons good moves. Chances were created for Evans, Reece Williams-Bowers and Tino Carpene. The last 15 minutes belonged to Northampton as they worked a series of crossing opportunities that were either dealt with brilliantly by Joe Bursik in goal or Sean Bird, Osaze Urhoghide and Tom Scott in defence.
The Dons started the second half well and Carpene had a great chance cleared off the line after a minute. The game remained in the balance throughout the half with Bursik making a good save and continuing to claim crosses whilst Nathan Wood had a great effort go narrowly wide and Bowers and Bird came very close.
The Dons were also denied a penalty when Evans appeared to be brought down in the area after a great ball by the influential Ethan Nelson-Roberts, but the free kick was given just outside the area. However the game finished goalless, which both sides settled for following a close fought physical encounter.
AFC Wimbledon man-of-the-match: Great Nii Okai Evans.