A double from Ayoub Assal was enough to secure a place in the semi-finals of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup for Wimbledon's Under-18s.
Assal (pictured) struck twice before half-time to earn a 2-1 win at Southend United, but he was sent off in the second-half for a second bookable offence. With our Under-18s having set-up an FA Youth Cup tie at Sheffield United and several having contributed to progress in the London Senior Cup and Surrey Senior Cup, the young Dons have been in good form in knockout competitions this season.
Assal struck his first from the penalty spot in the 13th minute at Southend on Saturday after Dylan Adjei Hersey was fouled in the box. There was no let-up from Wimbledon and Elliott Bolton was denied by the keeper, before Assal drilled into the side netting after being set-up by Isaac Olaniyan.
Southend struggled to conjure up a response and Wimbledon doubled the advantage when Assal found the bottom corner with a cool finish after once again combining well with Adjei-Hersey. Assal was the catalyst for the next real chance of the half. Recieving a cross-field pass from keeper Matthew Cox, he drove at the Southend defence, before finding Huseyin Bilar and his cross found Troy Chiabi in the centre, but he stabbed narrowly wide. Despite the dominance, Wimbledon went into the second-half with only the one-goal lead as the hosts managed to halve the deficit on the stroke of half-time.
The second-half was more of a scrappy affair, both teams committing a number of fouls, which didn’t allow the game to flow. Assal was then sent off in the 70th minute after receiving a second yellow card for simulation. In the last 20 minutes, plus five minutes of added time, the hosts desperately tried to break down the Wimbledon defence, but a resolute display in the latter stages earned a place in the semi-finals.