Display augers well for League 2 season ahead
Wimbledon could take plenty of consolation from their overall performance against Chelsea this afternoon as they were only narrowly beaten by the Premier League club.
The Dons were in dream land at half-time as they were 2-0 up in front of a bumper crowd for a friendly of 4,634, but a John Terry double near the end helped earn a last-gasp 3-2 win for Chelsea. The late rally from the visitors could take nothing away from a fine Wimbledon display that augers well for the League 2 season ahead.
It’s often said that pre-season friendlies are meaningless, but there was no denying Dons captain Alan Bennett his moment of glory against Chelsea- and it didn’t take long for him to do it.
With Jose Mourinho barely having had time to take his seat in front of the Your Golf Travel stand, Bennett rose highest in the box to meet George Francomb’s corner with a header that bounced in off a post with Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer not having time to move.
Chelsea’s starting 11 contained first teamers Schwarzer, Mohamed Salah and Nemanja Matic, supplemented by promising academy talents including Jeremie Boga. John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic were named on the bench, ready for second-half appearances.
For the Dons, Neal Ardley selected a starting line-up that may not be far removed from the 11 that takes to the field against Shrewsbury in three weeks’ time. Six of Wimbledon’s summer signings, including Bayo Akinfenwa and Matt Tubbs, started for the hosts.
Following Bennett’s shock opener, Wimbledon coped superbly with Chelsea’s threat. Bennett and Andy Frampton coped admirably at the back and they were well protected by midfielders Sammy Moore and Dannie Bulman. Though James Shea in the Wimbledon goal had to be off his line quickly to stop Egyptian winger Salah, the hosts had contained Chelsea quite comfortably by the half hour mark.
But it was far from backs to the wall with Sean Rigg, Tubbs and Akinfenwa offering plenty of threat. Rigg had an effort saved by Mark Schwarzer, though the offside flag was up, and Akinfenwa headed straight into the arms of the Australian goalkeeper.
minute. Tubbs produced excellent movement to get on the end of a long ball from George Francomb and when Kurt Zouma sent him sprawling, referee Lee Collins had little option but to point to the penalty spot. Tubbs had no hesitation in grabbing the ball for a chance to score on his home debut and he beat Schwarzer emphatically from 12 yards (the picture above shows Matt Tubbs receiving congratulations from Dannie Bulman).thThough Chelsea had plenty of first-half possession, there had been little to trouble the Dons and they doubled their advantage in the 36
A scoreline of Wimbledon 2 Chelsea 0 hardly flattered the hosts, though they did need Shea to make a decent save to stop John Swift reducing the arrears just before half-time.
Neal Ardley decided to make just one half-time change with Will Nightingale replacing Bennett at the break. Chelsea decided to make eight changes at half-time and they included a second-half introduction for former England international Terry.
Chelsea threatened to get back into it when a cross from the right found Izzy Brown at the back post, but he headed over the crossbar. At the other end, Akinfenwa provided further evidence of his threat with a glancing header that flashed wide.
Wimbledon were coping admirably with all that Chelsea could throw at them by the midway point of the second-half, but it needed Shea to make another fine save when he dived to his left to make a flying save from Marco Van Ginkel.
Neal Ardley made a raft of substitutions just after the hour, but it had been a more than worthwhile exercise for the starting 11 as they all boosted their fitness with three weeks until the big kick-off. With Chelsea having offered little threat in the second-half, it came as something of a surprise when they halved the deficit. A corner was swung in from the right and Terry was in the right place to divert the ball past Ross Worner, who had only come on minutes earlier. Dons substitute Tom Beere had a decent shooting opportunity when the ball fell nicely for him on the edge of the area, but he dragged his half volley wide.
Chelsea drew level six minutes from time with a goal out of nothing as Salah latched onto a long ball from Lewis Baker and finished emphatically past Worner. And there was a sting in the tail for Wimbledon right at the death when Terry notched his second with a thumping header from Baker’s corner.
Chelsea’s late goals failed to really take the shine off a Wimbledon display that offered plenty of hope for when the important action begins on Saturday, 9 August.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea (Ross Worner), Barry Fuller, Jack Smith (Callum Kennedy), Dannie Bulman (Chace Jacquart), Andy Frampton, Alan Bennett (Will Nightingale), George Francomb (Kevin Sainte-Luce), Sammy Moore (Harry Pell), Matt Tubbs (Tom Beere), Adebayo Akinfenwa (Adebayo Azeez), Sean Rigg (Chris Arthur).