AFC Wimbledon produced a highly impressive second-half display to earn a convincing friendly victory at Tonbridge Angels today.
In a second-half that really caught the eye, youth and experience came to the fore. Seventeen-year-old Troy Chiabi added to his hat-trick from last week with another and Joe Pigott netted his first pre-season goal with a fine header. That came after a first-half that included a lovely goal by Ethan Chislett, his first in a Dons shirt since joining us from Aldershot. The 3-0 score-line certainly didn't flatter Wimbledon and that's three pre-season victories out of three for the Dons.
Glyn Hodges selected a youthful starting 11 for this behind-closed doors match against a side that will start 2020/21 in National League South. On paper, it should therefore have provided Wimbledon with the biggest test so far during pre-season with the previous wins having come against lower level opponents Corinthians Casuals and Leatherhead. It was a pivotal match for 24-year-old goalkeeper Connal Trueman as he played his first Wimbledon game since arriving on loan from Birmingham City. Tonbridge included a familiar face in their ranks with Tom Beere, who scored that memorable play-off semi-final goal against Accrington, lining up against us.
The Dons started well, spraying the ball around effectively with Shane McLoughlin providing good width on the right side. It was 1-0 to the Dons in the ninth minute, thanks to a lovely goal by new signing Ethan Chislett. Having scored nine goals in the National League for Aldershot last season, it didn’t take long for Chislett to find the back of the net for Wimbledon and it was a goal that promised plenty for the season ahead. A slick move down the right involving Adam Roscrow and Shane McLoughlin ended with Chislett’s delightful curler into the bottom corner from outside the box.
Tonbridge had a fair share of possession, but they were unable to create much against a Dons defence that included young talents Archie Procter and Luke Jenkins with Terell Thomas offering experience. There was certainly a vocal presence behind them with Trueman offering guidance and encouragement, which is always a good sign for a goalkeeper. Tonbridge did come close to an equaliser though just before the half hour though when Beere curled a fine free-kick around the wall, but it was just wide of the far post. At the other end, Wimbledon almost doubled the advantage through Paul Osew, who put over a cross that cracked against the far post with the keeper beaten.
The hosts would have gone in level at the break but for a terrific clearance off the line by Luke Jenkins, who showed an admirable never-say-die attitude to stop the opposition. Taking a 1-0 lead into the second-half, Glyn made three changes with Jaakko Oksanen, Paul Kalambayi, and Nik Tzanev replacing Ethan Chislett, Archie Procter, and Connal Trueman. The Dons came close to increasing the advantage in the 47th minute when Roscrow found Ayoub Assal in space on the left and he cut inside before striking a shot that was well saved by the keeper. Paul Osew also produced an impressive surge down the left that ended with a shot that was palmed away by the keeper.
As we approached the hour mark, Assal twice came close to doubling the advantage. First, he cracked a shot against a post from an acute angle, before his close-range effort was saved. It was such a shame that Assal couldn’t apply the finishing touch as the move was started by a wonderful pass out to the right side by Terell Thomas to Shane McLoughlin, who delivered an inch-perfect cross. Our manager made seven changes on the hour with key first-teamers entering the fray and it didn’t take long for them to make an impression. After Luke O’Neill had curled a free-kick just wide, Joe Pigott made it 2-0 to Wimbledon with a well-taken header in the 65th minute after getting on the end of a cross by Paul Kalambayi.
Chiabi came tantalisingly close to quickly adding his name to the scoresheet when he headed against a post after getting on the end of a cross by Guinness-Walker. However, it didn’t take long for Wimbledon to make it three and this time Chiabi did hit the back of the net. It was a lovely goal too as he showed impressive movement, before cutting inside and curling the ball into the bottom corner. That goal in the 72nd minute put the icing on the cake after a very good second-half display from the Dons.
AFC Wimbledon: Connal Trueman (Nik Tzanev), Terell Thomas (Will Nightingale), Adam Roscrow (Joe Pigott), Ethan Chislett (Jaakko Oksanen), Luke Jenkins (Luke O’Neill), Ayoub Assal (Troy Chiabi), Shane McLoughlin (Cheye Alexander), Elliott Bolton (Anthony Hartigan), Archie Procter (Paul Kalambayi), Callum Reilly (Alex Woodyard), Paul Osew (Nesta Guinnness-Walker).
Pic credit: Trevor Williams.