By Rob Cornell
AFC Wimbledon under-18s put a couple of recent disappointing performances well and truly behind them, with an emphatic victory over Forest Green Rovers.
The young Dons recorded their biggest win of the season, beating their Gloucestershire counterparts 8-1 at the training ground on Friday, as they got their push for the Youth Alliance Merit League title back on track.
"For the past two games we've not been satisfied with our performances," said centre back Reuben Collins. "We've started well, but performance levels have dipped because of our intensity and communication skills. At Barnet we were 2-0 up and then we conceded two late goals and for our standards we just felt that wasn't good enough, especially as a Wimbledon performance.
"We want to show the aggression, the communication and that whole Wimbledon spirit that Mark Robinson (Coach) tries to get through to us. This occasion was good, unfortunately we conceded one goal, but we still came through it. At half-time Robbo said to us to just make sure we kept talking, supporting each other and that younger players were going to come on and fortunately for us they did really well. They did the job, showed Wimbledon spirit, there was nothing more we could ask of them and we came through and got the result."
"I thought it was a much bigger step up from under 16s football," said left back Jack Currie. "The challenges you face and the physicality stands out, compared to the 16s.
"The intensity and speed is something I haven't experienced before and it's just great to be a part of the way we play. The positioning is key and having players around you, who you can trust and who would also support you, is what is really great about the whole Wimbledon mentality."
Defensive duo Jack Currie and Reuben Collins gave us their thoughts after the impressive win and you see what they had to say, via a link below to our official YouTube channel.
Having let a two goal lead slip at Barnet and following a midweek defeat to Cheltenham Town, our under-18s were in danger of learning a hard lesson and letting their season fizzle out. That quickly changed though back on home territory.
Wimbledon put pressure on the visitor's backline from the very beginning. All that was required was a decent finish and that was delivered powerfully by Reece Weekes in the tenth minute. Ten minutes later, Great Nii Okai Evans headed his first of two goals.
Forest Green's revival was short lived when they pulled one back four minutes later. Although a defensive inquest followed it failed to upset the Dons, as they restored a two goal advantage when Evans got his second two minutes later.
Ossama Ashley headed home a free-kick from Weekes and after Tyler Burey was brought down in the area, he stepped up to make it 5-1 heading towards half-time.
The Dons had to wait until the 71st minute for their sixth goal, when Finlay Macnab netted at close range. Forest Green's second-half resilience caved in when Currie lobbed in a seventh and Jack Rudoni put away an eighth from the penalty spot with two minutes to go.