Mark Robinson has praised the mentality shown by Wimbledon’s youngsters after they came tantalisingly close to earning a draw against Crystal Palace.
The Under-18s get the league campaign underway against Cambridge on Saturday after a 4-3 defeat against Palace and you can see the highlights from this game below.
Following the game, manager Mark Robinson said: “The boys were really hurting, which is great to see. The winning is for them and our job is to develop them as footballers. If we do that well enough, the winning should come and we should see genuine talent emerge. It's good to see them hurt though as they shouldn't be playing the game if they do not get that feeling after the game. Our job is to get them to self-reflect honestly, to see the positives and the things they need to work on individually and collectively. In the first 25 minutes there were plenty of positives. We stretched them, created chances and looked comfortable. In the final third on the day they had the quality and that's what hurt us.
“The boys showed a togetherness to come back into the game and that was another positive. That will be important, as we may be starting the season a little light on defensive numbers. We will probably have to step up some Under-16s and play players a little out of position, but it's all great development until the lads are back fit. It's been an excellent pre-season and win, lose, or draw today the amount of development needed was never going to change. It's great though to be with players who want to learn and winning football matches for this club genuinely means something to them. We just need to make sure that winning mentality goes hand in hand with them developing as quality technicians who make excellent decisions on and off the ball.”
Wimbledon started well on Saturday and Ayoub Assal had his shot brilliantly cleared off the line by a defender. Palace made the breakthrough though in the 28th minute after Wimbledon gave the ball away and a swift counter-attack ended with a brilliant 20-yard finish. It was 2-0 shortly afterwards and Palace marched into a three-goal lead early in the second-half. At this stage, it looked all over as a contest, but Donte Lodge Francis got one back for Wimbledon with a cool finish. Though Palace made it 4-1, the tireless Reece Weekes reduced the arrears in the 78th minute with a great strike from 18 yards. There was still time for Wimbledon to score again with a trialist making it 4-3, but the Dons just ran out of time in pursuit of an equaliser.