Report: Under-18s march on
Several new faces impressed to extend an excellent run of league form for AFC Wimbledon Under-18s.
minute back-heel from Great Nii Okai Evans (pictured) earned the three points. The win was also particularly notable for another resilient defensive display as it meant the young Dons have now conceded just one goal in 10 league games.thA 1-0 home victory against Dagenham & Redbridge, thanks to a cheeky 17
Following the victory at the training ground in Football League Youth Alliance Merit League, Mark Robinson said: "I thought for the first 25 minutes we were very good. It was great, we did not drop our heads after missing a penalty, scoring shortly afterwards. However, our levels did drop after our goal and they finished strongly for the last fifteen minutes. Losing Ethan Nelson-Roberts was a main factor in that, as once again, he was inspirational until he got injured."
"I was pleased with all of the second half. It was always going to be difficult to play with our usual flow due to having so many different players on the pitch than normal, but we showed tremendous desire to keep yet another clean sheet - restricting them to very little. We did have some good moments as well and could have extended our lead on a few occasions.
"We finished the game with five under-16s and one under-15 on the pitch. That can only be seen as a positive for the future, as long as they show the same hunger to impress and be the best they can be.”
Goalkeeper Jack Wingate (quad injury) completed the first half on his return. having been ruled out for five months, before being substituted at half-time with Edward Ogebor-Onaiwu taking over for the second half. Both helped maintain the clean sheet on this occasion.
Talented midfielder Anthony Hartigan, recently awarded a professional contract, returned after recovering from an ankle injury picked up in the FA Youth Cup defeat at Preston North End. He showed grit and determination to make it all the way through to full-time. Toby Sibbick played for an hour, while Tom Scott wore the captain's armband and led the side impressively to victory. With many of the second year academy players required for the U-23 Premier League Cup tie against Charlton, several players stepped up to the under-18s and deservedly earned credit.
Giant Reuben Collins formed a decent partnership with Osaze Urhoghide in central defence and trialist Ossama Ashley slotted in as a holding midfielder. It was Tyler Burey who got the vote as man-of-the-match though as he overcame a penalty miss, having earned the spot-kick after 14 minutes, to become a constant threat throughout the game down the wing.
It wasn't long before Wimbledon did have the lead from the tightest of angles as Evans skilfully directed the ball, using his heel, to knock it past the Dagenham goalkeeper from an acute angle.
Reece Weekes replaced the injured Nelson-Roberts five minutes before the break and also caused Micah Hyde's side difficulties. There was also an opportunity for Finlay MacNab in the second half, coming on for Evans, but the youngest of all - Jack Currie - received quite a welcome to this level, when he replaced Sibbick at the back.
Shortly after coming on, Currie was the victim of a very strong challenge, which left him floored, only to get up and eventually show characteristics appreciated by the manager as he completed the rest of the game.
Scott was unlucky not to double Wimbledon's lead in time added when his free-kick from distance bounced off the underside of the crossbar, but the young Dons were good value for their victory.
AFC Wimbledon: Wingate (Ogebor-Onaiwu), Sibbick (Currie), Collins, Urhoghide, Scott (c), Ashley, Nelson-Roberts (Weekes), Hartigan, Burey, Evans (MacNab), Carpene.