Report: Young Dons edged out by Barnet
AFC Wimbledon’s development squad surrendered a two-goal lead at The Hive against Barnet with a place in the final of the Central League Cup eluding them.
It was all going so well for Alan Reeves’ side as goals from Neset Bellikli (pictured) and Jayden Antwi put the Dons well in charge, before Barnet stormed back to win 3-2.
Alan Reeves named a strong starting line-up, which included Joe McDonnell in goal and Alfie Egan, who travelled with the first-team squad to Fleetwood Town on Saturday. Paul Kalambayi captained the side.
There was a familiar face wearing the captain's arm band for Barnet. Former AFC Wimbledon player Dan Sweeney, older brother of Stoke City's Ryan, looked commanding in midfield throughout during his involvement.
The young Dons took an early lead when Bellikli found himself comfortably through on goal and put the ball away with ease after nine minutes.
Wimbledon adjusted to keeping their shape in windy conditions on a bobbly pitch and restricted Barnet to long-range shots on McDonnell's goal, the Bees kept at bay for the first quarter of the game.
The Dons doubled their lead on 33 minutes when Jayden Antwi slipped the ball into the net from an acute angle, following up on Egli Kaja's initial effort. At this stage, everything seemed to be going according to plan and a place in the final beckoned.
However, four minutes before the break, Wesley Fonguck forced a decent save from McDonnell – and it was a sign of things to come. With half-time approaching, Barnet halved the deficit through Justin Amaluzor after good build-up play from Sweeney and Fonguck.
Barnet continued to apply pressure after the break and a Sweeney free-kick forced a low save out of McDonnell. Finally, the hosts had their equaliser when Fonguck powered home a shot on the hour. Just seconds later, the turnaround was complete with a powerful shot from Tobi Coker putting Barnet in front.
Toyosi Olusanya immediately replaced Judah Chapman as the Dons looked to level quickly. With 10 minutes remaining, Alan Reeves brought on Reece Williams-Bowers for Bellikli as Wimbledon continued to search for a way back in. With time running out, Olusanya worked well down the wing to set-up Williams-Bowers, who looked to finish from close range, but he was denied. Despite rallying for a late equaliser, it was just not meant to be and Wimbledon’s youngsters just came up short in their bid to make the final.
AFC Wimbledon: McDonnell, Renee-Pringle, Sibbick, Kalambayi, Owens, Kaja, Gallagher, Egan, Chapman, (Olusanya), Bellikli (Williams-Bowers) Antwi.