AFC Wimbledon Under-18s manager Mark Robinson rated his side's display on Saturday as their best of the season, after a narrow victory against Milton Keynes.
Substitute Dylan Adjei Hersey's impressive header secured a 1-0 win in Buckinghamshire, but the defensive display was every bit as praiseworthy with Reuben Collins (pictured) earning the man of the match award.
Taking on a Milton Keynes side top of the table going into this match, Wimbledon had to stay alert at the back from the outset. As the first-half progressed, Wimbledon showed plenty of attacking threat with Tyler Burey, Great Nii Okai Evans, Bobby Mills and Ethan Nelson-Roberts all having shots saved, before Dean Perana shot just wide.
At the other end, Thomas Miles was required to make an outstanding double save to keep the score goalless heading into the break. Wimbledon continued to have the better of it in the second-half, but the contributions of midfield pair Nelson-Roberts and Ossama Ashley, backed up by a solid defensive four, was of crucial importance.
On 67 minutes Donte Lodge Francis replaced Bobby Mills, who had produced a very good performance. On 73 minutes young Dylan Adjei Hersey replaced Tyrique Spencer Clarke who had also impressed. That substitution ended up being pivotal. Two minutes later, Jack Curry found Burey, who beat his man and put in a left foot cross that was met brilliantly with a diving header from Hersey. It was an excellent goal and thoroughly deserved for Wimbledon. With 14 minutes to go, Jack Rudoni replaced the excellent Great Evans. Wimbledon continued to be the dominant force and it was only in the last five minutes that Milton Keynes threatened an equaliser, their late rally proving to be futile in the end.
Mark Robinson said: "It was our best performance this season by an absolute country mile. We had good structure and compactness off the ball and we passed the ball really well, giving them loads to think about with all different kinds of attacking play. The only problem we had in the first half was staying compact around the ball in key areas. A few times we over covered on the opposite side of the pitch and got caught out with big diagonals. The relevant players took on board the information at half-time and it was not an issue second half.
"There were lots of very good performances, but I have to say that Rueben Collins put in one of the most complete centre-back performances I have seen at this level against a very lively opponent. Not only did he break up play and win his headers, but his detail in possession was excellent and his decision-making was first class.
" It was a good victory, but nothing has changed. It is just one performance and we are still very much a work in progress. However, they have now seen what they are capable of if they work hard, listen and focus. I would like to think the feeling they got when they heard the final whistle will give them the hunger for more."