Bobby Mills and Great Evans were on target for AFC Wimbledon under-18s, but the young Dons came up short in their latest Youth Alliance Merit League match.
Ossama Ashley again stood out as man-of-the-match, but Coach Mark Robinson was left disappointed as the Dons left themselves exposed too often and lost 3-2 in a game staged at Carshalton Athletic FC.
"Cheltenham offered a different problem to solve,” said Mark (pictured). “They sat in early on, keeping decent shape and looked to hit us on the counter attack. Our problem solving, to cause them more problems, wasn't good enough, although we did have some decent chances before they scored their first and before they got their second.
“I don’t have too much of a problem with what we did not do on the ball because, as I said, it was a different kind of problem. You can work on solutions in training to overcome that, whilst letting them still have decisions to make and not play the game for them. What was really disappointing was our off the ball shape.
“Sometimes when they broke they would have a two man overload and we got lucky on more than a couple of occasions. To be honest, the score line could have been 7-7. That's not a good thing, because it is too unrealistic to the challenges they will face in the future, we were far too open on too many occasions"
The young Dons started the game with plenty of possession as Cheltenham sat in. Mills missed with a header from eight yards after excellent work from Tyler Burey. Despite their possession the Dons probably did not create as much as they would have liked and they were punished after just 15 minutes. Cheltenham scored from their first counter attack of the game, as William Dawes finished smartly from twelve yards.
Wimbledon still continued to have the bulk of the possession though, as Cheltenham continued to sit in. Jack Currie hit the post with a right foot shot from 22 yards and the keeper saved the follow up from Mills. Burey, Reece Weekes and Ashley then had efforts saved. The Dons always looked vulnerable to a counter attack though and on 42 minutes a rare error from Reuben Collins released Oliver Price, who doubled the visitors lead.
On the stroke of half-time though, the Dons got back into the contest with the best move of the game. Cheltenham pressed after getting their second goal and a slick passing move from the Dons saw Tino Carpene release Mills, who finished well from 16 yards.
Wimbledon started the second half slowly and Cheltenham had their best spell of possession creating two early chances that were smothered. The Dons got more of a foothold on the game and chances were created for Ayoub Assal, Burey and Weekes. On 70 minutes though the Dons defended poorly from a cross and Tom Handley headed home emphatically from 10 yards to effectively seal victory.
The Dons rallied again and still enjoyed some good possession. Carpene had a half chance and Assal had a shot cleared off the line. In the 90th minute, Evans ran on to a Carpene flick on and finished with his left foot from 19 yards to reduce the score line, but time ran out for the Dons to carve out an equaliser.