AFC Wimbledon Under-18s bounced back from their FA Youth Cup disappointment with a victory and an overall performance that really pleased manager Mark Robinson.
Man of the Match Ethan Nelson-Roberts (pictured) fired home a volley that proved to be decisive in the end, as Wimbledon triumphed 3-2 at Peterborough United.
Early superiority paid off for Wimbledon, thanks to Donte Lodge Francis. Released by a fantastic 60-yard pass from Archie Proctor, Francis powered into the area and was brought down, before picking himself up to fire home from 12 yards. The Dons continued to hold the upper hand and created good opportunities for Tyler Burey, Ayoub Assal and Bobby Mills. In the 40th minute, Wimbledon were made to pay for not taking advantage of their dominance when Peterborough equalised through a speculative cross from Harrison Burrows.
Against the wind, Wimbledon started the second-half well and on 46 minutes Assal found Burey, who cut inside and fired home from 20 yards to restore the lead. Although Posh enjoyed a little more of the ball, Osaze Urgohide, Rueben Collins and Proctor looked comfortable at the back, while Ossama Ashley, Roberts and Assal showed good quality in midfield. With 23 minutes to go, Wimbledon scored what turned out to be the vital goal. A quality move earned a corner that was swung in brilliantly by Burey and Roberts volleyed home from 10 yards.
Urgohide had a brilliant header saved on 70 minutes and Burey rattled the bar on 75 minutes, as the Dons continually threatened, but a very good Dons performance was slightly soured when a long throw was flicked on by Nathan Rudman and the ball rolled into the corner. Three was just about enough with the returning Tino Carpene – out injured for four months – firing just wide in the latter stages.
Afterwards, Mark Robinson said: "It was really important that the boys learned from the FA Youth Cup defeat at Plymouth. Despite the disappointment, there were some really powerful messages in there, so I asked them if they wanted to do the analysis individually or as a group. I am happy to say they chose to do it as a group. Before the analysis we had a brilliant group discussion and the boys were incredibly honest and showed real maturity in a group environment. We only had one player on the night who had any kind of FA Youth Cup experience and some of the lads admitted they froze Others admitted the occasion and the potential carrot of playing Man City caused them to do unusual things as they played the occasion not the game.
"We talked about coping strategies and how we could take the learning into the game versus Peterborough. I am happy to say we played very well and there were lots of strong performances, including players who under-performed on Tuesday night. Peterborough had a couple of players already on pro contracts including one who has already played against our first team in the league. However, I felt today we by far had the best performers on the pitch so I would like to think there has been some positive outcomes from Tuesday, despite us all feeling we let the club down. I will be looking for a continued approach of maturity and honest self-reflection."