AFC Wimbledon Under-18s were today left to rue a twenty-minute spell in the first half with the three goals conceded resulting in an early exit from the EFL Youth Alliance Cup to Northampton.
Having taken an early lead through Julian Sarmiento-Ramirez, the young Dons then gifted league leaders Northampton three opportunities, and the visitors took full advantage. Jack Daldy bagged a brace, either side of a Scott Pollock goal. Though Zac Robinson reduced the arrears in the second-half, Wimbledon went out following a 3-2 defeat.
Both sides battled to get the ball down and impose their game, on a rough playing surface, but it was Wimbledon who gained control and dominated early on.
The young Dons stormed into the lead after 17 minutes, when Sarmiento-Ramirez headed in emphatically at the near post to open the scoring, from an accurate cross. It didn't last long though, as Northampton soon levelled. With keeper Bert White having come out, the visitors squared the ball and Daldy notched his first as he finished into an empty net.
As the game evened out again, defender Hussain Biler looked lively and added to Wimbledon's attacking threat down the wing by breaking from the back. However, Wimbledon contributed to their own downfall with Northampton marching in front seven minutes before the break. First, Pollock headed in, again converting at the near post, and then things went from bad to worse. Wimbledon failed to halt another attack and Daldy finished again, giving Northampton a two-goal advantage at the break. Wimbledon had given away three soft goals from a position of dominance and paid for a lack of concentration in the first-half.
Wimbledon regrouped and made a better start in the opening five minutes of the second-half. Skipper Jack Rudoni tried to orchestrate a goal back from a short corner routine, but Northampton held firm. Wimbledon made their first change after 57 minutes when David Fisher replaced Donte Lodge-Francis up front as the hosts searched for the way back in.
The Dons struggled to make an attacking impression though and Northampton edged closer to a fourth, as they had an effort ruled out for offside. Giant defender Reuben Collins made a welcome return to action at the back when he replaced goalscorer Sarmiento-Ramirez with a quarter of the game to go. He immediately offered vocal presence from central defence.
With just under 20 minutes left, Wimbledon got the goal back that was desperately needed when David Fisher crossed for striker Zac Robinson to finish high into the net. KJ Osu then replaced Robinson with 10 minutes to go as the Dons pushed for the equaliser.
With three minutes of normal time remaining, Wimbledon made a final attempt to force the tie to penalties, as Fisher tested the Northampton keeper at close range, forcing a save after some good build-up play. The Dons were left disappointed at the final whistle, but there is a chance to quickly avenge the defeat when Wimbledon travel to Northampton on Saturday morning for a league clash against the table-toppers.
AFC Wimbledon: White, Biler, Madelin, Procter, Osew, Assal, Rudoni (c), Macnab, Sarmiento-Ramirez (Collins), Lodge-Francis (Fisher), Robinson (Osu).