Under-18s march to a superb victory ahead of match at Preston
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s warmed up for their big FA Youth Cup tie by brushing aside Milton Keynes with an excellent team performance today.
Paul Kalambayi, Tino Carpene, Reece Williams-Bowers and Sean Bird (left to right in above picture) were all on target in a 4-0 win that could have been more with Wimbledon goalkeeper Joe Bursik only called into action late on with victory already sealed.
More importantly, it means that Wimbledon go into the last-16 FA Youth Cup tie at Preston in buoyant mood after 11 matches unbeaten and on the back of one of their best performances of the season. The feel-good factor currently running through the academy continued a day after Anthony Hartigan had become the fourth player in the current Under-18 squad to sign a professional contract.
Wimbledon could have been in front within seconds when Williams-Bowers powered through, but he shot too close to the goalkeeper. In a storming start from the young Dons, Kalamabayi switched play with a lovely ball through to Nathan Wood, who set-up Toby Sibbick on the right and his shot was well saved.
minute. Wood played a short corner to Williams-Bowers and his cut-back was met by a clinical close-range finish from centre-back Bird. Less than two minutes later, it was 2-0 when Kalambayi struck with a superb shot after a corner was only half cleared.thSlick movement from Wood, Jayden Antwi and Williams-Bowers was pulling the Milton Keynes defence all over the place and it was no surprise when the opener arrived in the 12
At two up inside 14 minutes, it would have been easy for Wimbledon to have taken their foot off the pedal, but the attacking momentum continued. As well as scoring the goals, centre-back partners Bird and Kalambayi started plenty of attacks by showing their quality on the ball. Sibbick was also getting forward at every opportunity and he struck a fine effort just wide.
With Judah Chapman and Hartigan pulling the strings impressively in the centre of the park, Wimbledon completely dominated the first-half. Arguably the move of the half followed with Williams-Bowers, Antonio Walker and Sibbick combining to set-up Antwi, but he was just unable to steer it goalwards. However, Antwi’s movement continued to cause problems and his run and cross set-up Williams-Bowers, who fired home emphatically for number three. Wood almost had a goal to reward his impressive approach play just before the break when his effort from outside the box bounced off the crossbar.
Following an all-action first-half from Wimbledon, maintaining those levels was not going to be easy, but the Dons continued to pile forward. Chapman produced a lovely run down the right, before sending over a cross that just evaded everyone in the box, and that was his last contribution in a commanding midfield performance.
Manager Mark Robinson made three changes on the hour with Chapman one of those withdrawn and it did not take long for one of the substitutes to make a big impression. Left-back Tom Scott sent over a brilliant delivery from the right and Tino Carpene showed a fine poacher’s instinct to get there first at the near post and steer home. The score-line certainly did not flatter Wimbledon and it was nearly five when another substitute Ethan Nelson-Roberts had a decent shot saved. Walker also shot just over after more fine midfield work from Hartigan.
Though Wimbledon finished with 10 men as Callum Phillip had to go off injured after all substitutes had been utilised, it was already job done and Milton Keynes were denied a consolation by the woodwork in the closing stages.
Manager Mark Robinson said: “I was very pleased with the performance today. There was no fear of us taking it easy ahead of Wednesday. We had good intensity from the start and played some great football. Everyone got good game-time and apart from Callum Phillip getting a knock, we came through injury-free, though I am sure he will be okay. It’s all about the boys getting their preparation right now as we gear up for Wednesday’s game.”
AFC Wimbledon: Joe Bursik, Toby Sibbick (Osaze Urhoghide), Paul Kalambayi, Sean Bird, Tom Scott, Antonio Walker, Anthony Hartigan, Judah Chapman (Ethan Nelson-Roberts), Nathan Wood (Callum Phillip), Reece Williams-Bowers (Great Nii Okai-Evans), Jayden Antwi (Tino Carpene).