An impressive sequence of results for AFC Wimbledon Under-18s was halted on Saturday and manager Mark Robinson felt that the team played into the hands of opponents Cambridge United.
Following a superb run of form, the young Dons were in buoyant mood heading into a final game of the calendar year, but Cambridge proved to be a tough nut to crack and it ended 0-0 at our training ground.
Speaking after the game, Mark Robinson said: “We didn’t reach the heights that we had in recent weeks, but we were definitely the better side in the first-half. It was different in the second-half as they asked loads of questions of us and we couldn’t get a foothold in the game at all. They were the better side in the second-half and we were disappointing compared to recent weeks. The only positive was that we kept a clean sheet because it was certainly a game we would have lost three months ago. We dug in and kept a clean sheet, but in terms of us dominating the ball and doing what we do, we were way off it in the second-half.
“Against certain teams I say to the boys, ‘this is the closest challenge you will get to playing League One football’. Cambridge are one of those teams. They are very organised and they are a big, strong side that ask loads of questions. You need to do what’s required off the ball, so that you don’t get hurt. Then you need to be braver on the ball and we didn’t do that well enough and it’s been the case against a couple of other sides with a similar style that we’ve played against. That’s something we have to work on because we’ve got good ability in the side and we had been in good form. It’s just about doing the ugly side of the game. This includes winning your second balls and making sure they don’t hurt you, but when you get on the ball you need that transition to either hurt them or keep it. We didn’t do that well enough on Saturday and it became a fight.”
Cambridge started the game on the front foot and Dons keeper Burt White made a fine save after five minutes. However, Wimbledon gradually started to get on top and Finlay Macnab. Ayoub Assal, and Zach Robinson all came close to breaking the deadlock. Wimbledon’s moment of the match came midway through the first-half when a sublime piece of vision and technique from Macnab found Jack Madelin, who volleyed narrowly wide.
It remained 0-0 though, the Dons frustrated that a fine first-half did not bring any reward. The second-half started brightly for Cambridge again, but this time the Dons struggled to get a foothold in the game. Cambridge were in the ascendancy for most of the second-half with White forced into making two good saves for the Dons. At the other end, the Dons failed to make any real impact and only created a few half chances. Both sides played with real intensity, without finding the spark to earn a winner.
To view the highlights from the game, click on the link below.