Academy Head of Football Mark Robinson praised the progress made by the young Dons after victory against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday.
A 2-0 victory was the final game for AFC Wimbledon in the EFL Youth Alliance South East League and the outcome of Luton versus Barnet on Tuesday will decide if the Dons finish in the top-six or not – and what Merit League they go into for the rest of 2017/18.
Mark Robinson (pictured above) said "The boys are disappointed that they have not finished higher in the league, but after winning only one of their first eight games it was always going to be tough. Personally, I always look at it from a development perspective and the lads have progressed very well. At the start of the season we were restricted to one formation because the new lads were tactically naïve. As a group, we had lots of problems regarding mentality and professionalism, so we were very rigid in our play.
"We have continued to stretch the boys and they are now comfortable with various formations. We therefore play with a lot more freedom and movement. There is plenty to work on, but they are in a completely different place to six months ago and most importantly we have players who are standing out in games. We need to see if they can do that at U-23 level, or if they impress, get a chance to train with the first-team. Another big positive in terms of development is that we have played more players from younger age groups than ever before with lots of U-16s and even some U-15s playing U-18s football. As we go into the new league, we will continue to do that whenever possible".
On Saturday, Wimbledon struggled to find any fluency early on. Though Dagenham had the better of it, they were denied clear-cut chances until Dons keeper Tom Miles made an excellent save on the half hour. However, with five minutes left of the first-half Wimbledon made the breakthrough. A clever corner kick routine between Ethan Nelson-Roberts and Ossama Ashley – perfected on the training ground – set-up Tino Carpene, who cracked a fierce drive against the underside of the crossbar and Reuben Collins made certain that it crossed the line.
Wimbledon started the second-half better and doubled the advantage six minutes after the break. Great Evans flicked on a header and though a Daggers defender got there first, the back pass was under-hit and Tino Carpene's persistence was rewarded, as he pounced to finish expertly over the keeper. The Dons now started to find fluency and spent the rest of the game dominating possession, as Roberts and Ashley controlled midfield and Jack Rudoni oozed class playing out of position at left wing back. Further chances were created for Evans, Tyler Burey, Roberts and Julian Ramirez, but two was enough for the Dons to finish off what has been a much-improved second-half to the league.
Jack Rudoni was Man of the Match for Wimbledon.
AFC Wimbledon Academy are this season proud to be sponsored by Genesis Teamwear.