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James demands more after young Dons retain top spot

Manager seeks further improvement after promising start

5 October 2021

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Our Under-18s tightened their grip on top spot by getting the better of local rivals Sutton United, but manager James Oliver-Pearce felt that there was plenty of room for improvement.

The young Dons eventually secured a 2-0 victory against a Sutton side that had the chance to overhaul us at the top of the EFL Youth Alliance South East. James (pictured) felt that our young prospects could have dealt better with the challenges presented by their opponents in the first-half, before David Kawa’s goal on the stroke of half-time settled them down. 

“The boys have put themselves on top of the league with a couple of games in hand as well, which is great, but we have to look at where we are performance wise,” said James. “Today, we were not quite there for long periods of the game. We have to look at how we are going to make that better. Ultimately, we want these boys to progress, and move on into first-team football. For today, we have to look at the challenge they faced, how they overcame things, and what solutions they may need support with.”

Aron Sasu sealed victory for the Dons during a much-improved second-half display, and it meant that his side held onto top spot with an impressive return so far of four victories and one draw.

“Sutton were really organised, they were difficult to break down,” added James. “When we scored on the stroke of half-time it probably helped us because they had to change their plan a little bit.

“I felt that in terms of our tempo we allowed the game to get slowed down too much. We have to look at when teams try to disrupt our tempo and what we do when the ball is in play. In the second-half when the game opened up we looked a bit more like us. There were a few good chances for us, albeit at 2-0 they broke and had a decent chance. It was an outstanding recovery run from Josh Hallard to stop them. Overall, it was positive, but it was a tough game.”

Next up for the young Dons is a Youth Alliance Cup tie away at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The full interview with James after the win versus Sutton is below.

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