The Dons claimed their second dramatic win over Cambridge United in quick succession with Tom Wilson striking late in the dying minutes.
AFC Wimbledon Under-18s faced the U’s for the third time already this season, and for the second time in the EFL Youth Alliance League, with both teams claiming a victory each in the two meetings prior.
In the most recent fixture between the clubs, the Dons claimed a memorable win in the opening round of the FA Youth Cup, courtesy of an acrobatic goal in the last minute of extra time. Saturday’s match played out in similar fashion, with Wimbledon leaving it late to grab all three points after overturning a two-goal deficit to win 3-2.
Goalkeeper Max Foulkes was guarded by a back four of Mathias Tepe, Leo Young, Riley Horan and Shaun Soukou. The midfield consisted of Harry Sidwell, Jake Lawrence and Hugo Few and it was Wilson up front, flanked by Ed Leach and Junior Nkeng.
After a perfectly observed minutes silence, the Dons started strong, working Cambridge’s backline hard and winning a wealth of corners early in the game. Leach soon drove through the penalty area before his cut-back cross ricocheted off the knee of the in-running Wilson, marking our best chance of the half.
It was Cambridge who broke the deadlock however as their left-sided forward cut inside and found the back of the net.
Despite the boys in yellow and blue responding well with efforts from Horan and Nkeng saved by the Cambridge goalkeeper, the visitors doubled their lead before half-time. A strike from a similar position to the first goal left Foulkes outstretched and Wimbledon heading in at the break with a two-goal deficit to overturn.
With one substitution seeing Ollie Downes replace Soukou at left-back, Wimbledon attacked the second-half with intent, controlling the lion’s share of ball possession and enjoying the success of getting wingers Leach and Nkeng in behind the opposing backline.
We got a goal back when Nkeng received the ball in a wide position before shifting onto his right foot and striking home emphatically, bouncing the ball in off the crossbar and halving the deficit.
As Simon Clark called on his substitute bench, Kelvin Kargbo, Bailey Cotton and Kai Mackenzie replaced Lawrence, Tepe and Few respectively, helping the Dons in the search for an equaliser.
Somehow Wimbledon were denied this equaliser as Wilson broke through, squaring the ball to Nkeng who’s initial shot was blocked impressively by a Cambridge defender before the goalkeeper stretched to deny the rebound.
Another positive run from Nkeng saw the right winger pick the ball up from deep and carry into the opposition penalty area before seeing his strike hit the post as our luck seemed to be whittling out.
However, the goal we had been waiting for did arrive in the form of Horan, who’s enjoying an impressive scoring form for a central defender this season. Having scored against the U’s in the FA Youth Cup, it was clear he wasn’t finished with them just yet. A cross from Nkeng found its way through the box for the defender to scramble in at the back post, drawing us level late on.
The winner came only minutes from the full-time whistle as the ever-active Nkeng drove down the right flank before cutting another cross back into a dangerous area. Wilson met the ball well and calmly slotted home, triggering jubilant celebrations all round and marking yet another impressive win for this special Dons team.
PIC: Stephen Flynn (Pro Sports Images)