Michael Folivi wasted no time in making an impression on Wimbledon supporters once again with a superb cameo performance against Bristol City tonight.
The 21-year-old, who was officially announced as a Wimbledon player earlier today after joining us on loan from Watford, scored from the penalty spot in the 3-2 defeat against Championship opposition. Folivi also came close to a wonderful goal just before striking from 12yards and it was a highly encouraging display back with The Dons. Adam Roscrow also netted from the penalty spot as Wimbledon got the goals to match a good attacking performance that almost earned a draw after City had marched into a 3-0 lead.
Having finished eighth in the Championship last season, it was no surprise that Bristol City had the majority of the possession early on. However, Wimbledon maintained a good defensive shape to nullify the visitors and showed moments of attacking promise on the break. One quick foray forward almost brought reward in the 10th minute when Rod McDonald found Joe Pigott in space and his intelligent pass picked out overlapping full-back Kyron Stabana, who had his shot tipped over by City keeper Rene Gilmartin.
In a first half hour of little goalmouth action, Wimbledon needed Mitch Pinnock to clear the danger out of the area after Anthony Wordsworth had initially failed to do so. At the other end, a good Wimbledon move ended with Dylan Connolly crossing from the right, but no one was able to get on the end of it. City created their first meaningful chance in the 24th minute when Jamie Paterson sent out a fine pass to the left for Tommy Rowe to run onto, but his shot was just over. There was no reprieve for Wimbledon in the 32nd minute though when City marched into the lead. It was a sloppy goal to concede as a routine corner was swung into the near post by Niclas Eliasson and Adam Webster was allowed space to head home.
As we approached the latter stages of the first-half, Wimbledon started to gather a bit of attacking momentum. Wordsworth’s superb corner delivery from the left picked out Joe Pigott, but he headed over the crossbar. Then McDonald picked out marauding full-back Nesta Guinness-Walker on the left and he produced a fine run, but his cross was cut-out. One lovely flick from Pigott earned applause from the home faithful and he certainly showed signs of the excellent form that was so important at the end of last season. Guinness-Walker, who was so impressive on Saturday, again caught the eye with a superb solo run down the flank, but he dragged his shot wide.
City ended the half by forcing Nik Tzanev into two saves. First, the New Zealand international made a fine finger-tip save to deny Callum O’Dowda and then Zak Vyner tried his luck from outside the area, but Tzanev was equal to it. The first-half had certainly got better as it progressed after a slow start and Wimbledon could take plenty from matching their opponents for the majority of the first 45 minutes.
Following that encouraging first-half for Wimbledon, it didn’t take long for City to stamp their authority on the match in the second-half. Less than two minutes after the break, it was 2-0 through Famara Diedhiou, who found space on the left and cut inside, before unleashing a low drive that left Tzanev with no chance.
There was almost the perfect response from Wimbledon when Pinnock struck a fierce drive that replacement keeper Jojo Wollacott did well to turn aside for a corner. Rod McDonald then almost notched from the subsequent flag kick, but Wollacott made another save. However, City extended the lead to three when Vyner sent over another fine cross that Diedhiou finished emphatically. Young right-back Stabana needed no second invitation to get forward and he almost got one back for Wimbledon, but Wollacott showed good reflexes to save. At the other end, Walsh fired just wide with a drive from distance.
Wally Downes changed his entire starting 11 with an hour gone with new signings Michael Folivi and Luke O’Neill among those entering the fray. Former Bristol City midfielder Scott Wagstaff was given a rousing reception by the travelling supporters after coming on as substitute. The Dons pulled a goal back in the 68th minute when Jack Rudoni was pulled down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Adam Roscrow, who recently signed for Wimbledon from Welsh League side Cardiff Met, stepped up and finished emphatically, sending Wollacott the wrong way. It was a good way for Roscrow to get off the mark for his new club, the forward confidently converting the spot-kick.
Follivi came so close to notching a wonderful goal after entering as a second-half substitute. A lovely turn created space for a shot from outside the box and Wollacott did brilliantly to tip it wide. Follivi did notch a goal that he deserved for his impressive cameo with three minutes to go. A penalty was given for handball and this time Follivi stepped up and made no mistake. Wimbledon came close to a late leveller through Jack Rudoni, who shot just wide. Though the equaliser failed to arrive, it had certainly been a good work-out for Wimbledon, offering plenty of promise at this stage of pre-season.
AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev (Nathan Trott), Kyron Stabana (Reuben Collins), Nesta Guinness-Walker (Paul Osew), Rod McDonald (Will Nightingale), Terell Thomas (Jerome Binnom-Williams), Paul Kalambayi (Luke O'Neill), Shane McLoughlin (Scott Wagstaff), Anthony Wordsworth (Jack Rudoni), Mitch Pinnock (Adam Roscrow), Joe Pigott (Michael Folivi), Dylan Connolly (Anthony Hartigan).
Pic credit: Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images.