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Mark plots cup glory bid

27 January 2017

Young Dons gear up for big FA Youth Cup game

Preparations are well underway for AFC Wimbledon’s FA Youth Cup match at Preston North End with manager Mark Robinson working on different formations to make his squad tactically versatile for the last-16 tie. 

Thanks to our valued partnership with Southfields Academy, meticulous planning for the big cup tie have been unaffected with the Under-18s utilising state-of-the-art all-weather pitches at the facility during the recent cold spell.

Speaking about preparations ahead of next Wednesday’s match at Deepdale, Mark Robinson said: “The weather has been freezing so straight away we’ve been able to move training to Southfields Academy. Normally we don’t train here all the time, but they’ve let us have the 3G pitch, which is fantastic. It means we don’t have to worry about hiring pitches all the time due to the weather.

“Alan Reeves has been great as well. He has let me have Paul Kalambayi and Toby Sibbick back for as long as I want. Even though the Under-21s have a game on Monday, they will not be involved in that, and he has let me have the boys early. Toyosi Olusanya and Neset Bellikli also joined in with us and that meant we had the full 22 so that we could do the work that we wanted to do.”

Following last season’s excellent run to the last-16, the young Dons have a chance to go one better and create AFC Wimbledon club history with an FA Youth Cup quarter-final place up for grabs.

In particular, Mark, who is pictured centre above with Toby Sibbick (left) and Tom Scott (right) has been working hard with the players to make them tactically aware with a flexibility in their approach.

“I am a strong believer in teaching the boys four or five different formations,” added Mark. “I think it’s important for their education because the first-team use different formations, but it’s equally important that the boys understand football. You never know where their careers are going to take them, they could get signed by someone else and play different formations. A lack of fear builds confidence and if you don’t understand something straight away you go within yourself.

“Even last year we had four or five different formations we could play, but we stuck with one throughout the FA Youth Cup run because the boys were comfortable with that. This year has been different. We started with a three at the back against North Greenford because I wanted us to be very attacking. That’s no disrespect to them because I wanted us to dominate the ball. We went to a four at the back against Bristol Rovers because of their shape and I felt that was also the right thing to do against Huddersfield, though we changed later in the game.

“We switched to a three at the back against Hull because we had every confidence that the boys were going to be better and I thought we needed that attacking flair. We have that adaptability and that is something we will look at against Preston.”

We will have more updates from the Under-18s as they prepare for Preston in the coming days.

The club is running a supporters’ coach for this game and there are still places available to cheer on the boys at Deepdale.

The coach departure times for Wednesday 1 February are 10.30 am from opposite South Wimbledon tube station and 11.00 am from the Cherry Red Records Stadium.

 You can book at £30 return by contacting 020 8547 3528 or the subject title ‘FA Youth Cup’. 

The Sir Tom Finney Stand south will be open for the game (7.00 pm kick-off), and season ticket holders of both clubs can enter for free on the night. Admission for non-season ticket holders is priced at £4 for adults and £2 for concessions.

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