Match-winner Paris Lock said it wasn’t a surprise that Wimbledon’s young talents knocked out Burnley - and manager James Oliver-Pearce said they shouldn’t fear anyone.
In his first match in charge of the Under-18s, James guided the Dons to a superb victory at Plough Lane - and next up in the competition is Spurs!
"The boys are talented. I don’t give them the opportunity, they earn it. If you are good enough people will leave doors open for you. These boys are good enough, they have proven that time and time again. In terms of the Tottenham game, it’s exciting, but we have plenty of things to get right between now and then. There were elements tonight that we know we need to improve on and Tottenham will be a massive challenge. They have got players in the squad that have played in the Europa League this season. We know the task ahead, but we are Wimbledon, we don’t really care who we play against, and we want to make sure that we are stamping our mark on it. That may look different from time to time, but we are Wimbledon and we believe we can go toe to toe with anyone.
"I was really pleased – the boys were excellent tonight. In the first-half I thought we were nervous, it was the first time they had ever played at Plough Lane. We were the first Wimbledon youth team to play here, so the nerves were inevitable for some. It means a lot to them as they have been told about the dream of playing at Plough Lane since they came here. To finally get the chance to play here meant they had a few nerves.
“In the second-half I felt we were the only team really in it. I know they had the one shot that Coxy saved well, but I thought we were on the front foot. There were not many chances, but it was difficult because they didn’t come out of their shape very often. We had two Under-16s out on the pitch at the end with Paris, who scored the winner, and Aron Sasu, who set the goal up. I told them that it's a squad game."
Match-winner Paris, who only recently turned 16, said: “It came across the goal-line and I just wanted to get the goal. I just slid and I didn’t even know it had gone in, but then I heard everyone start to scream! My heart was racing. It means a lot, but with our coaching and preparation I feel that it shouldn’t be a surprise.”
James thanked first-team Head Coach Mark Robinson for allowing Matthew Cox to play and he had high praise for the defenders in front of him.
“In the past we have had boys around the first-team squad, but they haven’t been allowed to play in the FA Youth Cup. I know it will sound like a personal thing due to Robbo’s history with the academy, but it’s not. Robbo believes that the boys should get opportunities to play football, even though they are in the first-team squad, so I can’t thank him enough for letting Coxy be a part of it. He was terrific, but so too were the whole back four – Ben Mason, Isaac Ogundere, Ethan Sutcliffe and Josh Hallard.
“Ben was outstanding. He was aggressive and he is Wimbledon through and through. If you go into the changing room now the rest of them will be partying, but he will be stretching! The kid lives and breathes it and that’s ultimately want we want. He really cares and he is passionate, but he has quality as well.”
“Aron and Paris will get the headlines because they combined for the winner, but the boys up top who started ran their opponents ragged. It’s a squad game and the Under-16s are a big part of that squad."
Watch the full interview with James Oliver-Pearce and Paris Lock below, via the link to our official YouTube channel.