AFC Wimbledon Under-18s produced a swashbuckling attacking display tonight as Woking were swept aside in the FA Youth Cup.
Unbeaten this season, the young Dons stormed to a 7-0 victory with doubles by Quaine Bartley and Morgan Williams leading the way. Marcel Campbell, Paris Lock, and Remi Onabanjo were also on target as our Under-18s progressed in emphatic fashion.
Back at the scene of last season’s memorable FA Youth Cup matches versus Burnley and Spurs, this time the all-important missing ingredient was added - our supporters! The Dons fans in attendance enjoyed a performance that augers very well for the future of our club, a crop of our young talents playing football in the right way. And the atmosphere was boosted by our younger academy players, who cheered on the side all the way through the game at the Cherry Red Records Stadium. Their noisy contribution included a rendition of 'Quaine is on fire' with our young striker earning plenty of adulation on the night!
With our Head Coach Mark Robinson and Will Nightingale watching on, the young Dons fashioned a first chance in the ninth minute when a fine move ended with Marcel Campbell shooting just over the crossbar. However, the young Dons certainly didn’t have it all their own way and Aaron Jones had to make two saves in quick succession, the latter of those a particularly good stop to deny Sean Swift. As the first-half progressed Wimbledon took a firm grip on possession and there was a great chance created just before the 20 minute mark. A corner was played short to Josh Hallard, who sent over a lovely cross that picked out Ethan Sutcliffe, but he shot just wide from close-range.
There wasn’t too long to wait for Wimbledon to make the breakthrough – and it was a goal of real quality too. Bartley pounced on a loose ball to fire home a superb half volley from the edge of the area in the 25th minute. There was no let-up from the young Dons and the advantage was doubled less than three minutes later when Bartley made no mistake from close range after getting on the end of a cross by Ben Mason.
Wimbledon were simply rampant during the rest of the first-half, pouring forward at every opportunity and producing the swashbuckling attacking style that had swept aside their Football League Youth Alliance opponents this season. It was 3-0 in the 36th minute when Marcel Campbell finished off emphatically from inside the area after a fine team move. And there was simply no stopping the young Dons as it was 4-0 in the 41st minute when Josh Hallard delivered a sumptuous cross from the left that Morgan Williams met with a bullet header. On the stroke of half-time it was five when Williams delivered a corner that somehow found its way into the back of the net, bouncing in off the far post.
The 5-0 half-time score was certainly warranted with Wimbledon having produced a first-half display full of attacking verve, and no shortage of quality. And there was no sign of Wimbledon settling for five as the second-half got underway. Williams was just denied a hat-trick when his fierce strike from just outside the area rattled the crossbar. The Welsh youth international was impressive throughout, his overall midfield display catching the eye and his goals putting the icing on the cake. Bartley also came close to notching his treble with a shot that was well saved by Sheik.
A sixth goal arrived for Wimbledon when Paris Lock, who scored the winner in last season's FA Youth Cup victory versus Burnley, finished clinically after being set-up by Abdi Ali.
As we approached the midway point of the second-half Wimbledon continued to pour forward and a fine strike by Hallard appeared to have made it seven. However, the flag was up from the referee’s assistant to curtail the celebrations. That gave the visitors a bit of a boost and Aaron Jones was required to make a superb flying save to maintain his clean sheet. There was no denying Wimbledon a seventh though and it came in stoppage time when two of our substitutes combined. Archie Stevens fired in a shot that was touched home by Remi Onabanjo to round off the scoring.
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s: Aaron Jones, Ben Mason, Ethan Sutcliffe, Reuben Mason, Marcel Campbell (Hugo Few), Abdi Ali, Aron Sasu (Archie Stevens), Quaine Bartley, Paris Lock (Remi Onabanjo), Josh Hallard, Morgan Williams.
Photo credit: Ian Stephen, Pro Sports Images.