Wimbledon stepped up their pre-season campaign with an encouraging display and a comfortable victory against FC United of Manchester this afternoon.
Goals from Luke Moore and Harry Pell (pictured) provided a 2-0 win that perhaps flattered the visitors, who are three divisions below Wimbledon in the pyramid. More pleasing than the scoreline for Wimbledon’s management team was their side’s performance with Wimbledon spraying the ball around effectively to provide evidence that they are adapting to a new passing style.
Neal Ardley selected a strong starting 11 for Wimbledon’s second pre-season friendly match with the intention of giving those selected an hour to step-up their fitness levels.
Wimbledon started this match determined to press home their superiority against opponents from the Northern Premier League and they could have been in front after just a few minutes when Rhys Weston rose highest from a corner, but his header was well saved by FC United goalkeeper James Spencer. However, the Dons never had the early exchanges all their own way with FC United, cheered on by a good travelling support, almost creating a chance to open the scoring but Ashley Bayes was out quickly to deny Mike Norton.
Wimbledon sprang back to life midway through the first-half by creating the best chances of the match so far. The first one fell to Chris Arthur when he headed just wide with a glancing header after George Francomb had provided a glimpse of what he’s all about by bursting down the right wing and sending over a teasing cross. Then Andy Frampton delivered a cross from the other side that picked out Charlie Strutton just six yards out, but he cracked his shot against the crossbar. Wimbledon continued their forward momentum and they were so nearly rewarded when the impressive Frampton produced an soaring diving header from Francomb’s corner, but Jerome Wright cleared off the line.
It looked like FC United were going to survive until at least half-time, but Wimbledon broke the deadlock with a well worked opener in the last minute of the first period. Barry Fuller produced a powerful surge down the right, before he delivered an inch-perfect cross that was swept home from close-range by Luke Moore.
Wimbledon retained the same 11 for the second-half, but FC United had a completely different side out after the break. The Dons continued to spread the ball around well with a demonstration that fitted in with Neal Ardley’s plans to produced more expansive football next season. There should have been an end product too just before the hour when Strutton powered through, but he was denied by Spencer and then he lofted the rebound over the crossbar.
Neal Ardley made a raft of substitutions from an hour onwards with only trialist Rhys Weston remaining on the pitch from the start. The changes had an almost instant effect when Charlie Fayers, who was impressive at Dartford last week, made another favourable impression. Fayers picked out the run of Jack Midson and though the move ended with Harry Pell denied by a clearance off the line, FC United failed to clear and Pell got another chance to double the advantage.
The changes had a galvanising effect on Wimbledon’s play with the club’s youngsters determined to show what they could do in pre-season. Youssouf Bamba, a tricky winger who appears to have the class to step-up effectively from the Under-18s, tried an audacious curler from the left that had replacement goalkeeper Jon Worsnop scrambling to his right, but he just got there in the end. Then Jim Fenlon came so close to netting for the second successive week when he turned inside from the right and struck a venomous shot that Worsnop did superbly to get his fingertips to. FC United substitute Charlie Raglan came tantalisingly close to netting a late consolation, but his header was just wide of the far post. The visitors could be satisfied with respectability on the day though and Wimbledon also had reasons to be pleased for stepping up on last Saturday’s draw at Dartford.
AFC Wimbledon: Ashley Bayes (Seb Brown), Barry Fuller (Tom Beere), Callum Kennedy (Jim Fenlon), Peter Sweeney (Will Antwi), Andy Frampton (Alan Bennett), Rhys Weston, George Francomb, Sammy Moore (Harry Pell), Luke Moore (Chace Jacquart), Charlie Strutton (Jack Midson), Chris Arthur (Youssouf Bamba).