AFC Wimbledon Under-18s take on Cheltenham Town this Saturday aiming to build on a start to the Merit League 2 campaign that earned praise from coach Mark Robinson.
Goals from Reuben Collins (pictured) and Bobby Mills earned a 2-2 draw at Newport County, the Dons holding on after Tyler Burey's sending off, and next up it's Cheltenham at home on Saturday.
Speaking about the draw in South Wales, Mark said: "There was lots of important learning for the future and some very promising individual performances, none more so than young Finlay McNab in midfield, who was a real influence with Ethan Nelson-Roberts. I love these types of games. The boys are up at 5.30am and they have to travel three hours on a coach to then get out and perform to a high level as well, as try to win the game.
"We get to look at how they are developing, in terms of looking after their lifestyle in a professional manner, because if they get their own individual preparation wrong they will have no chance of performing. From what I can see, there are signs they are starting to understand how important player ownership is.
"We showed a good reaction and I was so pleased for Bobby getting his great goal because it's the best he has been for us," added Mark. "Both he and Donte Lodge-Francis were a real threat. The sending off gave us another challenge and although I would have rather it not happened, the lads showed maturity and coped well with ten men.
"Young Tyler will learn when you are a good player and a threat to opposition players; they will try and get under your skin. You need to take it as a positive and not something to throw you off your game, or even worse take you out of the game."
The young Dons started slowly and Newport could have taken an early lead, but for a good save from Tom Miles from close range.
In the ninth minute though, the Dons did take the lead when Nelson-Roberts whipped in a cross that was not dealt with by the Newport defence and Collins finished from four yards.
Mills, Lodge-Francis, Burey and Reece Weekes all had one-on-one opportunities to put the Dons out of sight, but in the 27th minute the Dons were made to pay when a deep corner was volleyed home brilliantly by Momodou Touray.
Wimbledon went close again through the excellent Nelson-Roberts and Lodge-Francis, but on 36 minutes the hosts took the lead when the Dons gave the ball away in their half. A quick break saw Owura Edwards finish cleverly with an exquisite chip as the Dons tried to recover.
Just as it looked like they were going to rue a hatful of missed chances at half-time, Weekes fed the lively Mills from 25 yards out and he unleashed a thunderous strike that flew into the top corner.
The second half saw the pitch become almost unplayable, in terms of passing along the floor. With the Dons playing into a strong wind, it was a struggle to keep up the momentum of the first half.
Things become increasingly difficult for the Dons when Burey was sent off for an off the ball incident after 65 minutes. A change of shape saw Wimbledon contain Newport well and Great Evans had an opportunity with five minutes to go to win it for the Dons, but his strike from 15 yards on the angle was well saved.
Man of the Match for Wimbledon was Reuben Collins.