Our U18 side drew 2-2 against AFC Wimbledon at Lliswerry School, with goals from Owura Edwards and Modou Touray ensuring that Byron Anthony’s side picked up a point in their opening EFL Merit League 2 fixture.
The game took a while to get going at Lliswerry School, but suddenly sprung into life when County ‘keeper Callum Brain had to make a smart one-on-one save from Bobby Mills’ shot in the 7th minute of the game.
The visitors then found themselves in front three minutes later, after a free-kick was floated into the box, Brain could only parry the ball and it fell to Rueben Collins; he made no mistake in putting his Wimbledon side in front from close-range.
Mark Robinson’s Dons looked to capitalize on their momentum, and they tested Brain in the air again with a dangerous ball into the box, but Brain caught the cross well under pressure with thirteen minutes gone.
Yet again, Callum Brain was called into action. This time, Wimbledon striker Lodge-Francis latched onto a brilliant through ball and found himself one-on-one with Brain, but the keeper bravely dived onto the ball to pick it up before Lodge-Francis could get his shot off in the 21st minute.
Modou Touray made his first league appearance for the Young Exiles since their 4-2 loss against AFC Bournemouth in December, and the forward didn’t take long to influence the game.
Liam Bishop made a brilliant run on the right-side of the pitch, eventually winning a corner for his efforts, which would be taken by Joe Hunt. The full-back delivered a delightful pin-point cross with his left foot into Touray’s direction, and he finished precisely into the bottom-left corner past Miles with 28 minutes on the clock.
Only ten minutes later, County found themselves ahead courtesy of a goal from winger Owura Edwards; Liam Bishop yet again caused the Dons backline a problem with his relentless running, before playing a dangerous through ball into Touray. The Wales U19 international crossed the ball into Edwards, who beat a defender before finishing past a helpless Miles in the Wimbledon goal.
Newport County continued to dominate their opponents, and Evan Press went the closest to finding a third goal for Byron Anthony’s side.
The Young Exiles skipper powerfully struck a free-kick from a tight angle, but it seemed destined for the top-left corner, until Miles produced a brilliant stop for the visitors with only a minute left until half-time.
Wimbledon made Miles’ save all the sweeter only a minute later, when Bobby Mills unleashed a thunderous effort into the top-left corner, clipping the post before beating a helpless Callum Brain meaning County went into the break level.
The second-half started in the same way the first-half did, but with 53 minutes played, Evan Press attempted a shot from outside box, and although it wasn’t a powerful effort, a deflection from a Dons defender made it a less than routine save for Miles.
Wimbledon were reduced to ten men in the 67th minute, after Tyler Burey was shown a red card for dangerous play. Mark Robinson made a double change to restore some balance to his side, and he brought Great Evans and Jack Madelin for goal scorer Bobby Mills and Jamil Awoyejo.
Owura Edwards was brought down with 75 minutes gone by Ayoub Assal, and the Dons midfielder was shown a yellow card by the referee as Wimbledon struggled to cope with a County side determined to take all three points from the fixture.
Despite continuing to create chances, the Young Exiles couldn’t find an all-important goal, and manager Byron Anthony made a double change with five minutes left.
Modou Touray and Owen Taylor made way for Dom Jeffries and Sioni Benham, but despite their best efforts Wimbledon managed to hold on for a 2-2 draw at Lliswerry School.
County Starting XI: Brain, George (Savigar 45’), Hunt, Taylor (Jeffries 85’), Murray, Beckett, Bishop, Press (c), Touray (Benham 85’), Collins, Edwards.
Subs Not Used: Callum Jones, Ellis Watts.
Up next for the Young Exiles is a trip to Yeovil Town on the 3rd March in the EFL Merit League 2.