AFC Wimbledon Under-18s produced a second-half fightback to secure a point against the Hatters on Saturday, but manager Mark Robinson was far from happy with the performance.
Ossama Ashley fired home emphatically to earn a 1-1 draw for the young Dons after an opening spell dominated by visitors Luton.
Luton passed the ball well for the first 25 minutes and when Wimbledon did win the ball back, it was not retained well enough. Fortunately, Wimbledon’s shape off the ball was quite good, meaning that clear-cut chances for Luton were kept to a minimum.
Just before the half hour mark, young Jack Currie showed some lovely composure to bring the ball out and the Dons mounted their first attack, showing controlled possession with good movement. This triggered a good spell for the Dons and with good football that resembled their efforts from a victory in the previous week. Great Evans had a good effort saved and Tyler Burey had a shot blocked, as the Dons became more dominant. However, Wimbledon were caught out at the other end when poor defending out wide allowed Jack James in and he finished clinically from a tight angle to put Luton in front.
The Dons started to take a grip on the game in the second-half with Ethan Nelson Roberts and Ashley dominant in midfield. With Burey and Hersey a threat out wide, the Dons continued to mount attacks. Bobby Mills came close and Hersey shot wide. On the hour mark, Donte Lodge Francis replaced Great Evans. The Dons continued to attack the Hatters and on 63 minutes after a good move, Roberts found Ashley, who fired home brilliantly from 18 yards. The Dons were now very dominant and Rueben Collins found Mills brilliantly with a clever reverse pass, but the Hatters keeper just managed to smother his effort. On 75 minutes, young Ayoub Assal replaced Burey. Two minutes later a great move saw Francis skip past his defender, but he shot inches wide from 17 yards.
Wimbledon slightly lost a grip on the game in the last eight minutes, as the game became more open, and Tom Miles had to make an excellent save for the Dons, before Osaze Urgohide cleared brilliantly off the line. At the other end, Mills had a header saved and Roberts shot over.
Afterwards, Mark Robinson said: "The first 25 minutes we were poor. It had nothing to do with off the ball this time, it was our on the ball stuff. We got plenty of regains, but for some reason we seemed to forget how to pass the ball and continually turned over possession. Some of it was down to players not wanting the ball and was down to playing predictable long ball football. When you do that, everything becomes a slog and they totally bossed the game early on. Fortunately, our shape was fairly decent and we held firm.
“In the last 15 minutes of the first half we started to pass the ball better and looked a threat. Unfortunately, during that spell we missed a challenge and their lad finished clinically. The second half was much better and up until the last five minutes or so we were on top and looked the more likely to win. I will be looking at why there was such a lack of composure, especially from the senior boys in the first 25 minutes. We need to be producing players who love the ball, not treating it like a foreign object. There were some positives though, particularly with the fact that we heavily involved more U-16s and U-15s, who handled themselves admirably.”
Man of the Match for AFC Wimbledon was Jack Currie.