Mark Robinson praised the young Dons, as his strike force wrapped up the points with an impressive display against Stevenage.
Great Nii Okai Evans and Donte Lodge-Francis put AFC Wimbledon into a 2-0 lead at the break, against one of this season’s surprise packages in the FA Youth Cup. Tino Carpene (pictured) put the game beyond the visitors grasp, to get the New Year off to a positive start in the EFL Youth Alliance, as Wimbledon won 3-2.
Afterwards our Academy Head of Football said: “The score line does not reflect the game or our performance, they have been given both their goals and I cannot remember our keeper Tom Miles making a save.
“I would like to think the lads are starting to see what constant hard work and focus brings. There is always plenty to work on individually and collectively, but for most of the game they were a pleasure to watch. They behaved like young men, not boys and played possession football that was exciting to watch.
"The first half we were excellent,” said Mark. “Our football on a difficult surface was a joy to watch, to be honest. Our technical detail was excellent, we trusted each other on the ball in tight areas and the boys had the ability, vision and options to keep possession and cause Stevenage all sorts of problems.
“The only thing that was missing was our final cross or shot at times, but when you are running at full speed and the ball will not sit down that has to be expected. The second half got scrappy, as the pitch cut up even more, but our third goal was a real quality move and we carved them open on several occasions.”
Stevenage, like the Dons, sit mid-table in the South East Division. However, having disposed emphatically of Fleetwood in the previous round, they next face Middlesbrough in the last 32 of the Youth Cup.
The young Dons started their game passing the ball well and with confidence on a heavy surface at the New Malden training ground. It came as no surprise when they took the lead after just five minutes, when Evans finished emphatically from close range after good work by Carpene.
All that was missing from a dominant performance was more goals, but a minute before the break the Dons put together a decent passing move that ended with Osaze Urhoghide finding Lodge Francis, who finished well from 10 yards.
Stevenage started the second half with more purpose, but after 50 minutes it was 3-0. The Dons strung together another great move, with this time Lodge-Francis turning provider for Carpene who finished expertly from 12 yards.
Man-of-the-match Reece Weekes just cleared the crossbar, when one-on-one with the Stevenage keeper. Carpene also missed the target when he went one-on-one.
Stevenage were given hope when Marcus Goldbourne slotted in a penalty after a trip in the area in the 70th minute. Although they were buoyed by the lifeline, they rarely troubled the Dons who still looked the more likely to score.
With time almost up though, Rueben Collins played the ball back to Miles to keep possession. The ball took an awful bobble and although the keeper got back to clear it, the linesman judged it to have crossed the line. The final score line didn’t mirror the Dons dominance.