Mark Robinson remains upbeat about the performance of his young Dons side, despite their four-game unbeaten run having come to an end at Gillingham.
Dylan Hersey-Adjei set-up Tyler Burey (pictured) for a late consolation goal, as Wimbledon's revival in the Youth Alliance was halted after a 3-1 defeat, but Mark was far from disappointed ahead of Wednesday's FA Youth Cup – first round tie at Marlow.
"With a heavy schedule we decided to rest a few players and go with a young side, including a number of under-16s. Despite coming in at half time 1-0 down, there were so many positives in our performance," said our Academy Head of Football.
"Although we all hate losing there were some good development points for all involved and I am sure we will be all the better for it. We moved the ball well, were exciting to watch and created lots of chances and good situations. Their keeper pulled off one very good save and two outstanding saves. Their goal was avoidable and come from two young lads not communicating.
"On the whole though the young boys were excellent and Ayoub Assal making his debut looked so comfortable in midfield. I have to take a lot of blame for what happened in the second half. Their dug out were clearly frustrated how we were dominating the game first half and I should have pre-warned the boys in my half-time team talk that they would probably press high, get in our faces and try to unsettle our rhythm.
"Instead, I focused on how we could continue to hurt them and a few things we needed to tidy-up on. They did exactly what I have stated previously and we did not adapt our style, meaning the game was over before we knew it.
"Obviously the boys need to recognise what is going on out there on the pitch and adapt their style for however long it takes to get them to drop again, but we had a young side out there. If I had tipped them off at half-time and given them possible solutions, I felt we would have continued to dominate, rather than lose our way."
Goalkeeper Tom Miles pulled off a very good save from a Charles Noyelle header early on. However, the Dons started to penetrate with some lovely pass and move football. Louie Catherall pulled off a save from a Great Evans header on 12 minutes, after excellent work from Tyler Burey at the other end.
The Dons looked a threat on every attack. Good work by Tyrique Spencer-Clarke found Jack Rudoni, who drove inside and hit a shot that looked destined for the top corner, only for the giant Catherall to pull off a stunning save.
Wimbledon were full of creativity as they passed their way through the Gills, either to be thwarted by excellent defending, or Catherall. On 27 minutes, the impressive Ossama Ashley broke up play and fed the ball to Assal. Unfortunately, confusion between Assal and Rudoni allowed the Gills to counter and a good cross was met by a Noyelle header that left Miles with no chance.
The Dons did not let the goal, against the run of play, dampen their spirits and they continued to dominate. Catherall saved well from Burey, while Great Evans and the excellent Donte Lodge Francis also went close.
The second half saw Gillingham start with a very high pressing game and the young Dons failed to change their style of play. Goals from Jude Arthurs (48th minute) and Henry Woods (55th) effectively ended the game as a contest.
Wimbledon never recovered their flow of the first half, but finished stronger and netted a good consolation right at the end. Adjei-Hersey did well to find Burey, who finished well from 18 yards.
Ayoub Assal earned the man of the match award for AFC Wimbledon.
AFC Wimbledon U-18s are back in the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday at Marlow with a 7.45 pm kick-off.