A goal from Jack Madelin meant that AFC Wimbledon Under-18s came home from Somerset with a creditable point.
The 1-1 draw maintained Wimbledon’s unbeaten start since the resumption of the Merit League, but it didn’t look too good when Yeovil marched into the lead, thanks to a seventh minute goal from Neville Nzembela. The goal came about after Wimbledon had given away the ball from a throw-in, but the opener came through a fantastic 25-yard strike from Nzembela, an effort that found the top corner.
The Dons responded well, playing some good football, and excellent chances were created for David Fisher, Ayoub Assal, Elliot Bolton and Bobby Mills. However, Yeovil keeper Tommy Scott was in brilliant form, and he maintained a 1-0 lead for Yeovil at the break. However, it didn’t take long for Wimbledon to restore parity with an equaliser in the 48th minute. Madelin finished clinically from eight yards after Mills had flicked on a cross from Finlay Macnab.
Though Wimbledon continued to be the better side after levelling matters, a winning goal proved elusive. Bolton, who impressed throughout for Wimbledon, came tantalisingly close to doing that when his fine header bounced off a post, but at the other end Burt White was forced into a fine save near the end.
You can view highlights below, plus read post-match reaction from manager Mark Robinson.
Mark Robinson said: "I was looking forward to the game because it was a great chance to see if the players had taken on board all the player ownership processes we had put in place. With the kick-off at 12 noon, most of the lads would have been up at 5 am, so I was keen to see how professional they were in their preparation.
"I am pleased that, with no guidance from the coaching staff, it appeared that they got the correct nutrition and other preparations spot-on. Certainly, the performance did not lack any energy. Unfortunately, what it did lack was a bit of quality. We created some great chances first half, but either our first touch was too loose, or our shots were at a good height for their keeper. Once we got on level terms, I expected us to go on and win comfortably. Again, a lack of quality in key areas let us down. The players are very frustrated at dropping points, which is the way it should be.
“From a development point of view, it is important you recognise the positives. With several injuries, we had some players playing out of position who adapted very well. We had another Under-16 player making his debut in Luke Jenkins, who was very good in a different position for him. Finally, with a very early start and a long journey, the lads showed they have the professionalism to prepare themselves well enough to put in a performance with the necessary intensity. This will put them in good stead for life in general, as well as their potential football careers, as long as they keep up the habits in whatever environment they happen to be in.”