AFC Wimbledon started with six Under-18s in the London Senior Cup victory at Cray Valley Paper Mills last night – and Mark Robinson was very pleased with the performance of his side on the night.
A 4-3 win came against an in-form senior side that had reached the FA Vase Final last season and the match was played in difficult weather conditions to provide an extra challenge.
“We are so pleased with the lads, there were so many positives we could take from the night,” said Mark. “We played really good football on a difficult night with the conditions. There were so many positives and I was really pleased with the performance. We were talking to the Cray Valley staff before the game and they are second in their league, they are pushing Hastings all the way, and they got to the FA Vase Final last season. They are a club going places.
“It’s great for the young boys to play against a men’s senior team and that was shown by the goals we conceded, as they were a bit soft. It’s all part of the learning curve when they play against these men’s teams. It gives them experience of what they have to do when they play against men, including how they need to defend. The opposition were getting balls into their front men too easily at times, but there were so many positives. If they take these experiences into the FA Youth Cup (next Tuesday at Bramall Lane versus Sheffield United), it will be all good.”
Victory last night earned a quarter-final tie at home to Brentford B. With Wimbledon having also made progress in the Surrey Senior Cup, it means a lot of senior football for the club’s young talents – and Mark believes that’s exactly what they need for their development.
“It’s a great tie as we know how good Brentford B are as we played them the other week,” added Mark. “That test is exactly what we want. We were very young for the game last night, we started with six Under-18s, two of those were only 16, and we finished off with seven Under-18s on the pitch, including three 16-year-olds. It will be a fantastic game for them in the next round.
“It just means loads of football, which is what we want. We had a young side out last night, but Adam, Kyron, and Tommy also got minutes under their belts. We have young players out on loan playing loads of football. This is what you need for the development of young players with everyone getting loads of minutes.”