Our Under-18s marched into the third round of the FA Youth Cup in style with an attacking performance that eventually proved too much for opponents Hanworth Villa.
The plucky hosts, a side that had caused a shock by knocking out Gillingham in the last round, had their moments on home turf, but Wimbledon produced a ruthless display of finishing to secure a 5-1 win that set-up a trip to Bramall Lane in the next round. Under-18s captain Archie Procter (pictured right with manager Rob Tuvey) will therefore lead Wimbledon’s youngsters out next month at the home of a Premier League club.
Five different names were on the scoresheet for Wimbledon, Issac Olaniyan getting the ball rolling from the penalty spot, before goals from Husuyin Biler, Olukayode Osu, David Fisher and Dylan Adjei-Hersey. Glyn Hodges watched on from the stands as several young Dons showed they could be a part of the club's future.
With queues still outside Rectory Meadow just before kick-off, this game had captured the imagination of the locals as Hanworth Villa sought to cause another big FA Youth Cup surprise. Dons Under-18s manager Rob Tuvey stressed beforehand that his side would be tested and he had to call-up Under-16s into his squad with Jack Madelin and Zach Robinson wanted for first-team duty. Ayoub Assal, the star man of the 5-0 win against Leyton Orient in the last round, was suspended for this game.
Despite being without key players, Wimbledon poured forward in numbers early on, producing a whirlwind start that gave Hanworth little chance of growing into the game and gaining in confidence. David Fisher was instrumental in that storming start from Wimbledon. In the seventh minute, Fisher forced Hanworth keeper Harry Candron into his first save after a lovely run. It was only a temporary reprieve for the hosts though as Fisher showed fine skill again to advance into the area, before being brought down for a penalty. Olaniyan’s penalty was emphatic as he cracked the ball into the roof of the net, leaving the keeper with absolutely no chance.
The opening goal produced an instant riposte from Hanworth and Matthew Cox was required to make a fantastic save to stop Hassan Habimana from levelling matters. However, that was a rare foray forward from Hanworth in a first-half dominated by Wimbledon. Husuyin Biler, who was impressive throughout on the right side, showed good vision to find Elliott Bolton, who had his shot saved by Candron. That was just a taste of what was to come as the goal of the match followed from Wimbledon. Procter started a superb move by finding Adjei-Hersey, who found the overlapping Jack Currie down the left and his cut-back picked out Biler. There was still plenty of work to do as Biler met the ball at the edge of the area, but he gave it the finish it deserved by finding the bottom corner.
There was no let-up from Wimbledon and it was almost three when Olaniyan, who was superb throughout, was denied by a fine save from Candron. Though the hosts desperately tried to respond, Wimbledon held firm and defender Procter would have made it three, but for a last-gasp block deflecting his header over the crossbar. When Adjei-Hersey had a shot deflected just wide, it appeared that Hanworth would go in just two down at the break, but Osu had other ideas. In first-half injury-time Osu showed the awareness to get in behind after a Hanworth defender had made a hash of a clearance from Cox, before producing a cool finish.
A 3-0 half-time lead certainly didn’t flatter Wimbledon and victory seemed inevitable after such a fluent first 45 minutes. There was a chance that doubts may start to creep in though in the 51st minute when Hanworth got a goal back. A free-kick was swung in from the left by Hanworth skipper Theo Kurtaran and with Cox unable to gather the ball, it just had enough on it to cross the line. All of a sudden, there was a different atmosphere around Rectory Meadow as the locals sensed their team could still pull something out of the bag. A spell of pressure followed and Kuraran shot wide with a decent opportunity to reduce the arrears.
After holding firm during the only spell of sustained pressure from Hanworth, Wimbledon almost scored a fourth when substitute Quaine Bartley picked out Fisher, but his goal-bound shot was blocked. The Dons did effectively seal it though in the 77th minute when Fisher dispossessed Christopher Stokes, before finishing emphatically into the roof of the net. Fisher had the ball in the net shortly afterwards, but it was ruled out for offside. There was no stopping a rampant Dons side on the night though as the fifth goal followed. Bartley, who made a notable contribution after coming off the bench, flicked the ball on for Adjei-Hersey, who rounded off the scoring.
Despite the difference in quality, Wimbledon had to earn the right to play good football against a gritty Hanworth side backed by vocal support at a tight ground. A completely different challenge awaits in the next round, but this display suggests that Wimbledon can certainly cause Sheffield United problems at Bramall Lane in December.
AFC Wimbledon: Matthew Cox, Jack Currie, Issac Ogundere, Archie Procter, Husuyin Biler, Elliott Bolton, Olukayode Osu (Kwaku Frimpong), Issac Olaniyan, Julian Sarmiento-Ramirez (Quaine Bartley), David Fisher, Dylan Adjei-Hersey (Josh Hallard).