Cambridge United U18’s lose agonisingly in the Youth Alliance Southern Final against AFC Wimbledon, with the home side progressing into the National Final with 1-0 win.
After a closely contested game with chances for boths side at a premium, the U’s were unlocked with a decisive slick counter attack from the Dons on 71 minutes breaking the U’s resistance.
United had a changed side from the semi-final penalty shoot-out win over AFC Bournemouth, with Brown and Steel moving into the team in the full back positions, Richard-Noel dropping to the bench in place of Jake Battersby, and Diego Miller moving into an unfamiliar position wide left.
It was the Dons who got off to a better start, having large spells of possession within the U’s half of the field. They thought the deadlock had been broken in the ninth minute when Troy Chiabi tapped in at close range, however his effort was promptly chalked off by the linesman for offside.
The U’s started to grow into the game as they gathered more possession higher up the pitch. Their midfield was influential in their most promising spell of the half as they really began to get a foot hold in the game creating a pair of half chances through Dearman and D’Arcy.
The second half began with the scoreline still unblemished and the pattern of the game returned in a similar style to the first, with the Dons grasping an early lion’s share of possession. The U’s saw opportunities come and go as they lacked a clinical edge in the final third.
And in the 71st minute they were made to pay as the hosts struck a hammer blow. After Beckett’s free-kick on halfway for United was cleared, Wimbledon seized the opportunity to break at pace, flying forward in great numbers. The move ended when second half substitute Sarmiento-Ramirez tapped in at the back post on the end of a pin point ball in by Dylan Adjei-Hersey.
United had a brilliant chance to score shortly after and haul themselves level, when Jake battersby went on a mazy run through the Dons’ defence and pulled the ball back to Saleem Akambi. Akambi made excellent contact with his left foot directing the ball goalwards, however it was cleared off the line by a tracking defender in a superb last ditch attempt to preserve the Dons’ lead.
Whilst the game flew open for the final ten minutes, United were unable to carve out a better opening and Wimbledon, who could have possibly also scored a second goal themselves, saw out their one goal advantage to book themselves a place in the Youth Alliance National Final against either Rotherham or Fleetwood.