Deji Oshilaja and Andy Barcham both completed over 80 minutes for Wimbledon in a Central League match at Merstham this afternoon.
Tom Soares captained the side and both he and Kwesi Appiah played the full 90, as several senior players topped up much-needed game time before the Easter schedule. Oshilaja also got a good run-out under his belt, before coming off near the end. Goals from Barcham, Jake Jervis and Appiah sealed a 3-1 victory over a young Cheltenham Town team.
Academy goalkeeper Bert White, defenders Huseyin Biler, Reuben Collins, and midfielder Finlay Macnab figured in a strong starting line-up. Biler settled in quickly at right back and caught the eye.
Wimbledon made a positive start, as Tyler Burey floated the ball in for an early opportunity for Jervis, who was unable to capitalise inside the first couple of minutes. Burey and Appiah combined in the 11th minute, but squandered an early chance to open the scoring. Seven minutes later Jervis chased down a long ball from the back and set up Appiah, but the Cheltenham keeper saved with his legs.
White was called into action, just after the half hour mark, when he claimed the ball following a succession of corners for the visitors. Wimbledon finally broke a resolute Cheltenham defence following an initial corner. Burey applied the pressure and Barcham eventually finished from the left side, with a neat finish past the keeper two minutes before half-time. The Dons went in with the one goal lead at the break.
Jervis had an early opportunity to double Wimbledon's lead after the restart, but his finish was poor. However, he soon made amends in the 49th minute when he finished from close range to double the lead. This was down to great work from Burey on the wing, who got the better of his man and delivered the ball for Jervis to finish.
Macnab received a yellow ten minutes into the second half, as Cheltenham tried to muster a response. Wimbledon moved up the gears again though and Appiah (pictured) didn't hesitate to thrash the ball home to extend Wimbledon's lead to three goals on the hour.
Cheltenham pulled one back with 15 minutes to go, denying Bert White a clean sheet in the Wimbledon goal. White saw the ball late from an initial corner and was unable to stop Kian Bedford's header from trickling over the line.
Alan Reeves introduced defender Jack Madelin, midfielder Ayoub Assal and striker Zach Robinson inside the last 10 minutes, for Oshilaja, Barcham and Burey. There was a late free-kick opportunity for Cheltenham in injury time to reduce the scoreline, but it was an easy claim for White and Wimbledon were comfortable winners at the final whistle.
AFC Wimbledon: White, Biler, Collins, Oshilaja (Madelin 85), Garratt, Burey (Robinson 85), Soares, Macnab, Barcham (Assal 82), Appiah, Jervis.
Pic credit: Paul Lapraik.