The Under-18s couldn’t start 2016 in positive manner after suffering a 2-1 defeat at home to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.
On what was a chilly and rainy day, the Dons started well and dominated possession during the early stages. They came close to taking the lead in the third minute when a cross from midfielder Brandon Thomas-Asante found striker Sam Nombe, who forced a close range reflex save from the visitors’ keeper.
Against the run of play, the visitors took the lead in fluky fashion when a ball from the left, which appeared to be intended as a cross rather than a shot, floated over Dons keeper Andrew McCorkell and nestled in the net. 0-1.
The Dons got a deserved leveller on 29 minutes through a well-worked set-piece routine. A free-kick was squared to midfielder Connor Furlong and the number ten struck a powerful effort in off the crossbar from about 20 yards out. 1-1.
A good save from Dons keeper McCorkell helped maintain parity in the 34th minute as a cross from the right was headed straight at him – McCorkell’s quick hands meant he was able to parry the goal-bound effort over the top.
The Dons keeper was at his best again just before half-time, saving a close-range effort with his legs and then scrambling the ball away from the poaching AFC Wimbledon players.
However, from the resulting set-piece there was nothing he could do to stop the travelling side from taking the lead. With the last play of the half, a blue shirt got free and powered a header into the bottom right hand corner. 1-2.
Moments after the re-start, the Dons had the ball in the back of the net from a header however the offside flag was already up and the goal did not stand.
The hosts continued to dominate at the start of the second period and on 52 minutes Thomas-Asante forced a save from the keeper after shooting from a tight angle.
As the conditions worsened, chances became further between and despite a couple of shots going just wide of the goal from outside the box the Dons couldn’t find an equaliser.
In fact, it was the visitors who went closest to scoring in the second half but a good save from McCorkell in the 89th minute prevented the deficit from increasing.
After the match, Director of Youth Mike Dove said: “I thought we started brightly and created chances but we didn’t take them which was frustrating.
“At half-time I said to the players they had to reap their rewards from the periods that they dominated by hitting the target with their efforts.
“We had a lot of possession but didn’t do enough with it. I was disappointed with the goal just before half-time because their number seven was free so that meant that somebody didn’t do their job.
He continued: “Playing a league game on a 3G surface was a new experience for the boys but they train on an all-weather pitch so they are used to it.”
Starting XI (4-3-3): McCorkell; Kioso, Steele, Jackson, Stratton (Omar 72); Hunt (c), Hadden-Becker, Furlong; Thomas-Asante (Owusu 79), Logan, Nombe.
Subs not used: Wyant, Palmiero, Osei-Bonsu.
Booked: Steele 70.
Goal: Furlong 29.
Referee: Kennedy Kikalwe.