Wimbledon made it five matches unbeaten during pre-season in emphatic style with a resounding victory at Gander Green Lane today.
Youngster Tom Beere (pictured) completed the rout with two well-taken goals and Wimbledon were full value for the 4-0 win. It could have been more, but what will have pleased Neal Ardley most is the manner of Wimbledon’s performance as they passed the ball around effectively and produced the finishing touches to match.
With Wimbledon’s second friendly of the day being staged at a bigger club with a larger crowd, there was the prospect of more lively pre-season fare – and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Apart from George Porter being withdrawn through injury after just six minutes, though his withdrawal did look more precautionary than anything serious, it was a highly encouraging performance from Wimbledon.
The visitors stormed into a 2-0 lead by half-time with a brand of football that was particularly impressive and had a cutting edge too. Wimbledon’s first passing move of promise came when Kevin Sainte-Luce and Harry Pell linked-up on the right to set-up Jack Midson and his near post shot was just wide. Then Youssouf Bamba, who had played for 20 minutes at Walton Casuals earlier in the day, provided a glimpse of what he could do with a dazzling run, before curling a fine effort towards the bottom corner that Sutton goalkeeper Tom Lovelock did well to turn aside.
Having produced such a fine start in an entertaining match at Gander Green Lane, it was no surprise when the Dons took the lead on the half hour. And there would be no big prizes for betting on who scored it with that man Midson rising highest in the box to head home Callum Kennedy’s well delivered corner.
There had been little to worry Wimbledon at the other end, but they needed Andy Frampton to be alert when he reacted well to block a goal-bound shot from Jamie Slabber. The best was still to come from Wimbledon in the first-half though when Pell doubled the advantage in superb style five minutes before the break. Pell, who had spoken in the build-up to this match about his determination to get provide more goals from midfield, let fly with a fierce strike from 30 yards that left Lovelock with no chance. Midson forced Lovelock into another fine save just before the break after another fine move from Wimbledon on the stroke of half-time.
Sutton chose to make several substitutions at half-time, but Neal Ardley resisted the temptation to ring the changes with the aim of giving more of his key men 90 minutes during pre-season. Sammy Moore and Pell continued to run the show in midfield, while Andy Frampton and Will Antwi provided assurance at the back behind them. Charlie Sheringham, who had started the match, was given more game time to get back into the swing of things after shaking off an ankle injury.
Though Sutton never looked like finding a way back into this match, they did force Ross Worner into an excellent save on the hour. After Sammy Moore had given away a free-kick that belied his impressive display in the centre of the park, Harry Beautyman let fly with a thunderous free-kick that needed a flying save from Worner. However, Neal Ardley made a substitution on the hour that had a significant impact with Beere stepping up to the mark in emphatic style. Beere, who replaced Bamba, was handed a more advanced role by Neal Ardley and that decision was rewarded midway through the second-half. There was still plenty to do when Beere received the ball at an acute angle after Callum Kennedy had drawn the goalkeeper out, but he kept his cool and produced a fine curler into the bottom corner.
There was more to come from Wimbledon and after Pell had fired just wide from close range, Beere put the icing on the cake to make it 4-0 after good work from Sainte-Luce. With not enough available substitutes, Wimbledon finished the match with 10 men after Sheringham departed, but it mattered little in the end as the Dons proved to be too good in front of a crowd of 857 spectators.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner, Barry Fuller, Callum Kennedy, Andy Frampton, Sammy Moore, Jack Midson, Harry Pell, Will Antwi, Kevin Sainte-Luce, Charlie Sheringham, George Porter (Youssouf Bamba, Tom Beere).