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REPORT: Youngsters show promise in eventful defeat

Gallant second-half effort by youthful Dons side

25 July 2017

By Rob Cornell

A very young Dons side gained valuable experience, but just came up short in their attempts to claim a draw from an eventful friendly against Woking's Youth team.

Having taken an early two goal lead from the penalty spot, they then surrendered their advantage shipping three quick goals in five minutes before the break. The young Dons then failed to convert two further second half penalties and as more young players were introduced they rallied well, but to no avail in a 3-2 defeat at the first-team training ground.

"It was never going to be about the result, but to concede three goals in five minutes when you are in a good winning position and looking relatively comfortable is obviously dissapointing," said Head of Football Mark Robinson afterwards.

"On the whole though, against a good standard of under-18 opposition with some very good individuals, there were plenty of positives and on that showing there could be some talented players coming up to the under-18s over the next couple of years - if they apply themselves professionally."

With most of the second year scholars involved in the 2-1 defeat at Birmingham City just a couple of days before, it was a side made up of just a few of the first years while many of Rob Tuvey's under 15s/16s squad made the step up.

"It's all part of the learning for the under-15 and under-16 lads, but I expected more organising from the few under-18 players that were playing during that spell," said Mark.

"The second half was particularly pleasing as we had five under-15s and four under-16s on the pitch and until they run out of steam a little at the end and Woking created a couple of good chances, I thought for 35 minutes we were pretty dominant and it was a shame the young lads could not turn their pressure into goals - missing two penalties and a couple of very good chances.

The hosts got off to the perfect start as from the kick off Tyler Burey's surging run on the wing and into the box earned a penalty, which he confidently converted.

Woking were almost on level terms, just seconds later, as giant defender Reuben Collins was called upon to clear off the line. With quarter of an hour approaching, goalkeeper Edward Ogebor-Onaiwu pulled off a diving save to maintain the young Dons lead.

Wimbledon doubled their advantage after 16 minutes and it again came from the spot. Donte Lodge-Francis supplied Great Nii Okai Evans, who was fouled in the area, but stepped up to roll in the second.

WIth half an hour gone, the young Dons were in control with Burey effective on the wing and trecking back to thwart Woking.

Having been in a dominant position with just over ten minutes to go though, it was Woking that grabbed a life line and one back through Billy Montague when the young Dons failed to clear after Ogebor-Onaiwu had initially kept them out.

Wimbledon were left stunned and rocking when Woking then scored twice more to turn the game around and storm into a 3-2 lead, with goals from Ryan Dixon and Will Jacobs, against a Dons side that had lost its way in a matter of five minutes.

Coach Mark Robinson remained calm in his approach with his half-time team talk though as further opportunities were given to younger members of the squad in the second-half.

Amazingly, a third penalty was awarded with six minutes gone, but Lodge-Francis failed to net. The drama from the penalty spot didn't end there though!

The Dons were then awarded a fourth on the hour mark, but despite the ball going loose from the initial save - Woking keeper Gautam Vyas scrambled, pounced and denied Wimbledon the equaliser with a second penalty save .

Halfway through the half a Dons effort came off the post as Woking held on to their lead. Wimbledon again went close with thirteen minutes to go as they blasted the ball into the side netting.

Despite a determined and gutsy effort from the young Dons, for a pre-season game, it was their slightly more senior opponents that held on for the victory and were denied a fourth by a good save from the last real effort of the match.

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