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Late twist in the tale to successful season for young Dons

Under-18s edged out at Portsmouth

4 May 2022

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There was a dramatic conclusion to the season for our Under-18s on Saturday after Quaine Bartley’s fine finish had appeared to salvage a point.

Hosts Portsmouth snatched victory at the death, the young Dons suffering a hard-fought 3-2 defeat in EFL Youth Merit League Division One after that late leveller by Bartley (pictured).

Despite the defeat, it was still a highly successful season for our young talents as they won the South East Division title.  

Academy Manager Michael Hamilton said: “As a group, we couldn’t be prouder of the boys this season. They should be proud of themselves, but it’s all about what happens next.

“Our objective is to produce players for the first-team and it’s important after defeats that they look at their own individual performance and how they can use it to help their own development. Ultimately, it means nothing if they don’t go onto have successful careers.

“So if I’m a defender I should be striving to make sure the ball is not hitting our net and I’m prioritising clean-sheets. As a midfielder, you should be making sure your work-rate is second to none, whilst providing chances. As a striker, you should be hungry to hit the back of the net, as well working for the team.

“Sometimes you can win games and not learn, but the best lessons come from defeat and in games like this the boys know what they need to do to take their games to the next level.”

The Dons hit the ground running on Saturday, taking the lead through Archie Stevens after Bartley’s touch had steered the ball in his direction for a tap-in.

The hosts drew level when a dangerous cross into the box wasn’t dealt with and Pompey took full advantage. Wimbledon were left to rue missed chances after the hosts displayed a more clinical edge, taking the lead before half-time.

After starting the second-half trailing 2-1, Wimbledon needed to react strongly to Portsmouth grabbing momentum at Copnor Road. The response was exactly what was required in the circumstances as Bartley was finally rewarded with a goal after getting on the end of a cross. However, there would be one final twist as the Dons suffered late heartbreak when Maxwell Hurst came off the bench to head home the winner after getting on the end of a corner.  

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