Chace Jacquart finally provided the edge at Walton Casuals with a 72nd minute winner in the first match of a friendly double-header for Wimbledon today.
The young midfielder, who scored a superb goal for the Under-18s last season against Milton Keynes in his last appearance at Waterside Drive, scored again at the same venue to earn a 1-0 win for Wimbledon.
Wimbledon struggled for long spells to assert their superiority against a side four divisions below them with Casuals goalkeeper Louis Bregg not having a save to make in the first-half.
Neal Ardley had selected a strong side for this match, but they failed to click into top gear during the first-half. Indeed, Casuals had the better chances in the first 45 minutes as they regularly caused problems and Sol Pattison-Bonner volleyed just wide.
With Wimbledon failing to really make an impression as an attacking force, it was easy to hear Neal Ardley shouting instructions from the bench; urging his men to show better movement and get behind the Casuals defence. Chris Arthur made one decent run down the left and put over a cross that fell nicely for Charlie Fayers, but his goal-bound effort was blocked. Wimbledon’s best move of the first-half came when Jacquart combined well with Jim Fenlon down the right and the latter’s teasing cross was just begging to be converted, but no one could apply the finishing touch.
However, Casuals ended the first-half by creating the best chance of the first-half. A goal looked inevitable when the ball was worked to Malachie Hudson in space, but he dragged his shot wide with only Seb Brown to beat.
Wimbledon needed to lift their performance levels in the second-half and they created their best chance so far when Jacquart crossed for Charlie Strutton, but he headed straight at the goalkeeper. Strutton had another good chance to open his account for pre-season when he was put through by George Francomb, but his shot was comfortably saved. Wimbledon finally started to turn the screw by the midway point of the second-half with Casuals camped on the edge of their own area. That pressure paid off in the 72nd minute when a fine run by Luke Moore set-up Jacquart and he kept his cool with a clinical finish to finally break the deadlock.
The chances started to arrive for Wimbledon, first when Arthur got down the right and cut-back for Francomb, but he lofted his finish over the crossbar. Substitute Youssouf Bamba wasted no time in making an impression once again when he cut inside from the right and unleashed a fine effort that was just wide of the far post in the end. There was still time for Wimbledon to threaten another goal when Francomb powered through and created a chance for himself, but he shot just over.
It had been a much improved second-half performance from Wimbledon as they dominated possession and had more of a cutting edge. Neal Ardley will be hoping for more of the same from his next 11 at Sutton against a strong Conference South side.
AFC Wimbledon: Seb Brown, Jim Fenlon, Alan Bennett, Rhys Weston, Charlie Fayers (Tom Beere), Chris Arthur, Peter Sweeney, Chace Jacquart (Youssouf Bamba),George Francomb, Luke Moore, Charlie Strutton.