A goal by Archie Stevens turned out to be of consolation value only as our Under-18s were defeated by AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.
The Under 18s Merit League One campaign started with a 3-1 loss at home to the Cherries. After little goalmouth action in the opening exchanges, a long ball wasn’t dealt with by the Wimbledon defence and Bournemouth took full advantage to take the lead.
Paris Lock (pictured in action versus Burnley last season) had our best chance to get on the scoresheet in the first-half only for the Bournemouth goalkeeper to get down well to stop an equaliser.
Morgan Williams also struck a well-executed free-kick late in the first 45 minutes, but the Bournemouth keeper was able to get across well and hang onto the ball.
In the second-half Bournemouth were still carrying the momentum from the opening goal and started the quickest out of the sides, which soon brought the reward of a second goal. The advantage was extended in the 50th minute and now the Dons had a mountain to climb.
Despite the deficit, Michael Hamilton’s men weren’t giving up and kept knocking on Bournemouth’s door. After seeing a few promising chances snuffed out by the Bournemouth defence, time was running out for us to get back into the game and we almost had a lifeline when Morgan Williams threaded through a lovely ball that almost picked out David Kawa, but the Bournemouth keeper was alert to the danger.
The hard work was finally rewarded when a perfect driven cross was met by Archie Stevens to fire home from close range.
Towards the climax of the match, Josh Hallard whipped in a dangerous cross that wasn’t dealt with by the Cherries defence, but the visitors managed to scramble the ball clear. That meant an opening day defeat for the Dons in a competition that features the teams that finished in the top half of the EFL Youth Alliance South West and South East.
The young Dons take on Luton Town today (1.00 pm kick-off) in the EFL Youth Alliance South Cup Final, which is also the semi-final of the national competition.