Wimbledon off the mark for pre-season
A late goal from Dons academy product Chace Jacquart earned Wimbledon their first pre-season victory against a spirited Sutton United side.
minute winner from Jacquart (pictured).nd The Conference South visitors made Wimbledon work on the night for a 2-1 win that was earned thanks to an 82
Neal Ardley decided to make wholesale changes to his starting line-up with the aim of getting valuable game-time into the rest of his squad.
Wimbledon had a different attacking edge with Adebayo Azeez starting the match alongside Bayo Akinfenwa up front. The pair dovetailed so effectively in the first half hour and offered a partnership that suggested Wimbledon will have plenty of options in attack for the coming season. With Matt Tubbs having opened his account against Chelsea on Saturday, this pre-season is already offering positive signs that Wimbledon will have plenty of attacking prowess next season.
The match opened though with Will Nightingale having to be at his best to deny Marvin Williams with the centre-back making a fine last-ditch tackle to deny the Sutton man. However, the Dons were well on top after that and created plenty of chances in the first-half as they cut through Sutton seemingly at will.
Akinfenwa had a great chance after being set-up by Sainte-Luce, but he shot over the crossbar. Tom Beere then came even closer after another Sainte-Luce cross when his powerful header bounced off a post. Harry Pell also had a shot turned away by Sutton goalkeeper Tom Lovelock as Wimbledon cranked up the pressure.
minute. Azeez, who had so nearly got on the end of Chris Arthur’s cross just minutes earlier, guided a lovely finish across Lovelock to break the deadlock after more good work from Sainte-Luce.th Considering the early pressure, it was no surprise when Wimbledon took the lead in the 20
Though Sutton did start to gain a greater share of possession as the first-half wore on, their equaliser came completely out of nothing. Kane Haysman picked up the ball and darted forward, before unleashing a stinging low drive that left Ross Worner with absolutely no chance. A 1-1 scoreline at half-time certainly flattered Sutton, but Wimbledon paid the price for not killing off Sutton with the chances they had created in the first-half.
Neal Ardley decided to make two half-time changes with Matt Tubbs entering the fray for Bayo Akinfenwa and Andy Frampton replacing Barry Fuller. Tubbs wasted no time getting involved when he forced a decent save from Lovelock and referee Colin Lymer was unimpressed by Wimbledon’s appeals for a penalty after Sainte-Luce went down. Then Tubbs uncharacteristically missed a golden opportunity to restore Wimbledon’s advantage when he scuffed his shot wide.
Azeez had the best chance of the second-half so far just before the hour when he powered through and struck his shot well from an acute angle, but Lovelock got down well to make a vital touch.
Neal Ardey made a raft of substitutions with 25 minutes left and the changes included a first taste of the action in pre-season for another player who has progressed through the youth ranks with George Oakley entering the fray. Goalkeeper Joe McDonnell was also brought on for his Wimbledon debut in place of Ross Worner.
With George Francomb offering an extra attacking edge with his overlaps from the right-back spot, Wimbledon gradually started to turn the screw and they fully deserved to make the breakthrough eight minutes from time. Dannie Bulman was the instigator as he unleashed a superb 25-yard effort that Lovelock could only fumble and Jacquart followed up to convert the rebound. Yet again though, there followed a spirited response from Sutton United. McDonnell had dealt competently with any moments of urgency since coming on, but he could do nothing about Michael Spillane’s free-kick that crashed off the crossbar. Jessy Reindorf then blazed over from close range when he should have done better.
There was little to worry Wimbledon after that though and the victory in front of 657 spectators certainly offered Neal Ardley’s men something to build on in their preparations for Saturday, 9 August.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner (Joe McDonnell), Barry Fuller (Andy Frampton), Jack Smith (Chace Jacquart), Will Nightingale, Callum Kennedy (Sean Rigg), Harry Pell (Dannie Bulman) Chris Arthur, Tom Beere (Sammy Moore), Adebayo Akinfenwa (Matt Tubbs), Adebayo Azeez (George Oakley, Kevin Sainte-Luce (George Francomb).