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Dons sign off with three

1 August 2015

Lyle Taylor on target again versus Cheltenham

Wimbledon signed off the pre-season campaign with an impressive victory against National League side Cheltenham Town today.

Lyle Taylor struck his fifth goal in four games in great style just before the break with the other goals coming from Paul Robinson and Bayo Akinfenwa in a 3-1 win that was fully deserved.

The Dons started with a strong starting 11 that included experienced defender Paul Robinson, who had been brought in at centre-back with a view to a possible signing.

It did not take long for the ex-Pompey man to make an impression as he headed home emphatically after a corner was swung in dangerously to the back post by George Francomb. The Dons continued to show plenty of attacking momentum and Dannie Bulman fired just wide with a fierce drive from outside the area.

Harry Pell, who returned to the Cherry Red Records Stadium for the first time since leaving Wimbledon in January, had a chance to equalise shortly afterwards, but James Shea got down well to save. Tom Elliott started well on the left of Wimbledon’s attacking three and he showed good movement to set-up another shooting chance for Bulman, who was denied by Cheltenham goalkeeper Dillon Phillips.

Francomb continued to show his quality from crosses and he put over a fine curling free-kick from the right that Elliott headed just wide. In an eventful half for Elliott, the tall striker also came close with an impressive acrobatic volley after a great team move involving his strike partner Lyle Taylor. There had been encouraging signs from Wimbledon in the first half and speedy wide man Andy Barcham showed that he could be a useful attacking weapon down the left for the coming season.

The best was still to come from Wimbledon with a second goal arriving in great style on the stroke of half-time. Taylor latched onto a flick from Akinfenwa, before letting fly with a superb low strike that left Phillips with no chance.

The second-half started with Cheltenham on the front foot and Robinson showed all of his experience to get back well and stop substitute JJ Hooper from getting clean through. The visitors also threatened when Danny Wright found space in the box, but he headed straight at James Shea. However, the Dons regained superiority and started to build attacks once again. Elliott came close, before Akinfenwa headed just over with a powerful header.

Fine link-up play between George Francomb and Barry Fuller so nearly resulted in a third when the latter’s cross was almost diverted into his own net by Cheltenham defender Daniel Parslow, who was relieved to see his header loop just over. One fine Wimbledon move involving Bulman, Akinfenwa and Taylor ended with a shooting chance for Elliott, but his effort was straight at Phillips.

The Dons did not have it all their own way though and Shea was required to make two fine saves in succession. Billy Waters took aim and struck a powerful drive from 25 yards that Shea did well to tip wide. Then from the subsequent corner Shea showed good handling to keep hold of a header from Phillips. There had been enough variety in Wimbledon’s attacking play to suggest that things are coming together ahead of the new season. The front three showed signs of linking up effectively and Taylor could well provide the prolific goalscorer that is so hard to find at League 2 level.

Neal Ardley decided to offer Egli Kaja an opportunity with nine minutes left as he replaced Taylor, who received a good ovation from the home faithful after another goalscoring contribution. And there was another goal to celebrate for Dons fans four minutes from time when Akinfenwa reached a long ball from Barry Fuller before Phillips and steered it around the Cheltenham goalkeeper for 3-0.

Wright latched onto a long ball to net a consolation for Cheltenham in stoppage time, but it failed to take the shine off an impressive Wimbledon display.

  AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Karleigh Osborne, Paul Robinson, Dannie Bulman, George Francomb, Jake Reeves, Andy Barcham, Tom Elliott, Lyle Taylor (Egli Kaja), Bayo Akinfenwa. 

The picture above was taken by Stuart Butcher on behalf of Pro Sports Images.

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