By Chris Slavin
AFC Wimbledon's development squad produced an impressive second-half display to earn victory at Southend United with substitute Ossama Ashley netting the winner.
Trailing 2-1 at half-time after a double from Norman Wabo, the Dons turned it around to secure a 3-2 victory in a Central League South East match played at Southend's training ground.
Alan Reeves said: "The second-half performance was much better. At half-time I let the boys know about a couple of things I was not happy with. The pitch was not the best and I told them the best way to win the game was to play the conditions. In the second-half they did that and we got our goals from set-pieces, which was pleasing."
Anthony Hartigan's set-piece deliveries proved key to victory. The 17-year-old's free-kick created the opener for Wimbledon in just the fourth minute with Carlton Cole's header proving too powerful for Southend keeper Josh Bexon to stop. However, the lead was short-lived with Wabo rounding Nik Tzanev to equalise in the 10th minute and the same player scored through a fine individual effort to make it 2-1 before half-time.
Wimbledon stormed back in the second-half and the equaliser arrived in the 57th minute when Paul Robinson headed home Hartigan's well delivered corner. There was no let-up from Wimbledon and three minutes later Ashley (pictured) netted what turned out to be the winner. Hartigan's set-piece was only half cleared and Ashley, who made his first-team debut in the Checkatrade Trophy at Yeovil Town, found the back of the net through a crowded penalty area.
Paul Robinson's display earned praise from Alan Reeves afterwards.
"Robbo leads by example and he shows the young lads what they need to do if they want to enjoy a long career in the game," said Alan. "He gets on with the job and does everything you are supposed to do as a defender. Robbo asked to play because he's not played for the first-team for a few weeks and I'm happy for him to play anytime he wants."
AFC Wimbledon: Nick Tzanev, Toby Sibbick, Paul Robinson, Paul Kalambayi, Osaze Urhoghide, Richard Pingling (Tino Carpene), Anthony Hartigan, Alfie Egan, Levi Shango (Ossama Ashley), Carlton Cole (Great Nii-Okai Evans), Jayden Antwi (Dean Perana).