A clinical finish from David Fisher was just not enough to end an impressive season for the young Dons with a victory.
Just a day after the first-team completed the Great Escape, our Under-18s threatened to beat Premier League club AFC Bournemouth’s young prospects, but it ended in a 1-1 draw at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
That meant a very creditable runners-up spot behind title winners Southend United in the EFL Youth Alliance Merit League One.
The Dons versus Bournemouth rounded off an academy Festival of Football that was well attended by spectators, who watched the Under-18s make a bold start. Ayoub Asaal, David Fisher, and Bobby Mills, all came close to opening the scoring, but the breakthrough was made in the ninth minute. Assal showed good awareness to pick out Fisher, who finished expertly.
Bournemouth simply couldn’t cope with a fine demonstration of pressing and free-flowing football from Wimbledon. Chance after chance was created with only Cameron Plain in the Bournemouth goal stopping the Dons racking up an unassailable lead. The Dons started the second-half just as impressively and a wonderful move down the right ended with Dylan Hersey’s great cross picking out Mills, who just steered the ball inches wide. Cherries keeper Plain was finally beaten again in the 56th minute, but Fisher’s fine strike rattled the woodwork.
As frustration set in for the hosts, Bournemouth started to gain a foothold in the game and they fashioned an equaliser in the 75th minute when Euan Pollock slotted home from eight yards. Things nearly got worse for the Dons three minutes later when Bournemouth were awarded a penalty that the hosts felt was harsh. However, the spot-kick was steered wide of Bert White’s goal. The Dons regained some shape in the final 10 minutes and looked more likely to get the winner, but the match ended honours even.
Manager Mark Robinson said: “The lads knew they could not win the league due to a result elsewhere on the Saturday, so all I asked of them was to put in a performance that showed all the education they had undertaken in the last nine months. I thought in the first 35 minutes we were unplayable. Our shape and pressing meant they could not gain any momentum and on the ball we were exciting, free flowing and creative. The only thing missing was the finishing, but their keeper was in outstanding form.
“We started the second half just as well, but when the goals did not come our behaviour dropped and with that so did our shape off the ball. This allowed them back into the game and we paid the price. We did rectify it later in the game and finished well. We have been talking a lot about behaviours lately and that will be their main learning point from the game. If your good behaviours drop slightly then everything else becomes irrelevant. They are not quite at the stage where they can effect each other in that way when it happens, but it will come.
“I saw plenty of fans at the games and I would like to thank them for their continued support of the academy. Hopefully, they were excited by what they watched. There were some excellent performances throughout the day against Portsmouth and our U15/16s got an excellent win against Bournemouth with a very dominant second-half display. With the first-team’s fantastic achievement on Saturday, it's been a wonderful weekend for our wonderful club.”
Take a look below at the goal by David Fisher (video footage provided by Paul Lapraik) and highlights will follow later in the week.