New signings make their mark
AFC Wimbledon Ladies started the league season in style and had the bonus of new signings making a great impression.
Goalkeeper Shanell Salgado kept a clean sheet on her competitive debut and Kelly Jade-Whelan rounded off the 3-0 victory against Bexhill United.
Jordanne Hoesli-Atkins (pictured) received the player of the match vote from the opposition.
Having had a strong pre-season and on a flawless pitch ideal for a passing team, the home side got off to a dominating start. The Dons looked every part the team that fought hard in the London and South East Regional Women’s Premier Division last season.
Controlling the play and putting the visitors under pressure right from the start, Wimbledon took an early lead on nine minutes. A through ball from right back Cindy Colliver put captain Jess Trimnell clear of the Bexhill defence and she calmly slotted the ball home. Buoyed with confidence, the Dons continued to test Bexhill as they produced more chances, but narrowly failed to convert.
It wasn’t quite end to end football, but it did give the away supporters a little to cheer about. The Dons replied with their own moments of good football, and the half finished with a fine fingertip save from Dons keeper Salgado to maintain a slender lead going into the break. Bexhill did come into the game though as the first half wore on. Whether this was the home side backing off and allowing their opponents to play, or simply that Bexhill found some renewed energy, will be carefully assessed by the Wimbledon set-up.
The Dons came out firing on all cylinders, and for the next 25 minutes Bexhill struggled to stay in it. On the hour mark, new Dons striker Whelan entered the fray and she almost opened her account immediately. With a nasty head injury to Dons striker Wylie, development team regular Smith came on to further test the Bexhill defence. The cushion of a second goal was finally earned on 69 minutes after the visitors cracked under relentless Dons pressure, conceding another corner kick. Libby Suchley scored direct from the flag with a sweet strike into the Bexhill goal.
The striker rose highest in the box to meet a fine corner delivery from Clifford and if was effectively all over. Nine minutes from time, Whelan got the goal she deserved.
It was a performance that offered plenty of promise for the season ahead, but manager Chris Lyons knows that tougher challenges will be to come, starting on Sunday with Leyton Orient set to provide difficult opposition after taking points off Fulham.
AFC Wimbledon: Salgado, Colliver (Drage 74), Clements, Carnell, Clarke, Trimnell, Suchley (Sargent 75), Hoesli-Atkins, Clifford, Wylie (Smith 64), Keady (Whelan 59). Sub not used Martin.