Mark Robinson's side produced their best 45 minutes of pre-season so far in tonight's defeat at Woking.
A second-half goal by Woking substitute Tahvon Campbell proved the difference between the two teams in a 1-0 win for the National League side. Though it was disappointing that our team lost their way a little in the second-half, the first-half was full of promise as Wimbledon produced very good passing and attacking movement. Mark Robinson said afterwards that he was encouraged by the display with just one pre-season match to go until the big kick-off.
A strong starting 11 was selected for this match at Woking and there was a place on the substitutes’ bench for new signing Henry Lawrence. With a side containing several first-team regulars and just 11 days until the start of 2021/22, this was a night when our Head Coach was looking for the Dons to make a step forward from previous friendlies this summer. The Dons made a bright start at Woking, dominating possession from the outset. A good move early on ended with a cross by Cheye Alexander that Aaron Pressley came close to reaching in the box.
Central midfielders Anthony Hartigan and Alex Woodyard pulled the strings from the centre of the park as the first-half progressed, the hosts dropping deep in an effort to nullify Wimbledon’s attacking threat. Another good Dons move ended with Paul Osew sending over a cross that Pressley headed just wide. Ethan Chislett showed plenty of promising pre-season signs in the first-half when he showed support for Pressley in attack. The former Aldershot midfielder came close when he played a one-two and got through on goal, but Woking keeper Mark Smith was out quickly to stop him. At the other end, Woking attacks were rare with former Dons striker George Oakley not given a chance to build upon his weekend goal versus Sheerwater.
On-loan Brentford forward Pressley looked sharp in attack and he came close to opening his Dons account when he got on the end of a cross by Jack Rudoni, but his first time effort flashed just over the crossbar. With six minutes until half-time, Wimbledon almost broke the deadlock when Alexander sent over a deep cross from the right that picked out Osew on the far post, but his header was well saved by Smith. Despite an encouraging first-half – perhaps Wimbledon’s best 45 minutes of the pre-season so far – it was goalless at half-time.
At the start of the second-half Woking had their best chance so far when Max Kretzschmar sent over a cross from the left that picked out an unmarked Inih Effiong, but he failed to connect properly and his header was comfortably wide. The hosts tested Wimbledon more after the break, showing more attacking ambition than they had in the first-half. Substitute Tahvon Campbell was certainly giving Wimbledon’s defence plenty to think about with his direct running.
The Dons came so close to opening the scoring through an impressive team move just before the hour. Hartigan, who displayed good passing skills on the night, spread the ball out wide to Cheye Alexander, who sent over a lovely cross to pick out Pressley, but his header was off target. Alexander almost broke the deadlock himself when he cut inside and unleashed a shot that arrowed just wide of the far post. Mark Robinson made three changes on the hour with Zaki Oualah, Nesta Guinness-Walker, and Ollie Palmer replacing Nik Tzanev, Dan Csoka, and Aaron Pressley.
Woking took the lead in the 64th minute with a goal that was a poor one to concede from a Wimbledon perspective. Effiong sent over a cross from the left that picked out substitute Tahvon Campbell and he scored with a header that left Oualah with little chance of saving it, just minutes after he had entered the fray. The Dons struggled to muster a response, and it was disappointing that the men in yellow had failed to build on the promise shown before the break. The positive side to this was that Woking's improved display increased the tempo, really testing Wimbledon and the second-half was far from typical pre-season fare.
With time running out, Jack Rudoni showed fine skill to create space, and his subsequent shot was a powerful one, but Woking keeper Smith reacted well to save. The final whistle came with Wimbledon having failed to conjure up an equaliser. Yet again, the cutting edge to match some promising approach play was missing, and there's just one pre-season match to change that with Scunthorpe up next at Plough Lane on Saturday.
AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev (Zaki Oualah), Cheye Alexander, Ben Heneghan, Alex Woodyard, Ethan Chislett, Daniel Csoka (Nesta Guinness-Walker), Paul Kalambayi, Anthony Hartigan, Paul Osew, Jack Rudoni, Aaron Pressley (Ollie Palmer).
Pic credit: Trevor Williams.