Chris Whelpdale marked his return with two assists in an entertaining Central League match against AFC Bournemouth this afternoon.
Having missed the past month of first-team fixtures due to a groin injury, the 2-2 draw provided a good stepping stone in the right direction for Whelpdale (pictured), who played for just under an hour and set-up goals for George Oakley and Toyosi Olusanya.
In a very competitive development fixture at our training ground, the visitors took the lead in the fifth minute when Seth Owens was adjudged to have brought down Sam Surridge in the box and the Bournemouth striker picked himself up to convert from 12 yards.
It did not take long for Wimbledon to hit back with a lovely goal. Whelpdale picked out Oakley with a sublime through ball and the young striker rounded Bournemouth goalkeeper Michael Steadman, before slotting home. Following his return from a successful loan spell at Welling United, it did not take long for Oakley to hit the back of the net in Wimbledon colours.
Whelpdale created a second for Wimbledon in the 23rd minute by finding Olusanya and he produced an impressive run and finish to make it 2-1. In a topsy-turvy first-half, the lead did not last long thouh as a fine Bournemouth move ended with Keelan O’Connell crossing for Surridge to net his second.
Tom Beere attempted to take the game by the scruff of the neck with a fine individual run, but he was just stopped before he could get a shot in and then Oakley’s presence created a chance for Owens, but he headed wide. However, a goal fit to grace any stage so nearly arrived just after the half hour at the other end. Surridge, who has just come back from a prolific loan at Poole Town, tried his luck with a 30-yard free-kick that had Joe McDonnell beaten, but it bounced off the underside of the crossbar and away to safety.
Wimbledon’s best spell of the match followed in the 15 minutes before half-time with Neset Bellikli at the heart of it. The left-sided player first made a good interception before striking just wide of the target. Then he showed good skill to set-up Alfie Egan, but he was denied by a brilliant save from Steadman. Just before the break, Egan and Olusanya combined well to create a shooting chance for Dan Gallagher, but he was also denied by Steadman.
In a second-half that failed to match the entertainment of the first, Bournemouth had good chances to take the lead before the hour mark. A defensive lapse allowed in Romanian forward Alex Dobre, but McDonnell reacted well to save. The Dons also needed full-back Johnville Renee-Pringle to clear off the line to deny Dobre.
Wimbledon did come back into it as the second-half progressed. Great Nii Okai-Evans added plenty of energy and drive to the attack after replacing Whelpdale and he almost got on the score sheet when he shot wide after more good approach play by Oakley. Evans was also denied by Steadman after a fine individual run.
Oakley, who was full of confidence after his impressive loan spell with Welling, forced Steadman into a save after a powerful run, but Surridge could have won it when he headed wide from close-range. It was a game that perhaps neither side deserved to lose and the final whistle signalled a point each in a well contested development match.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Johnville Renee-Pringle, Seth Owens, Dean Perana (Osaze Urhoghide), George Oakley, Dan Gallagher, Chris Whelpdale (Great Nii Okai-Evans), Tom Beere, Alfie Egan, Toyosi Olusanya, Neset Bellikli.