Lyle Taylor maintains his great start
Wimbledon again produced another encouraging performance against higher level opposition, but a late Millwall leveller denied the Dons a morale-boosting victory.
Another goal from Taylor, his fourth in just two games, appeared to have earned the win for Wimbledon. However, Millwall substitute Sid Nelson made it 1-1 in the dying seconds of a match the Dons ended with nine men due to injuries to Callum Kennedy and Ade Azeez. It was the second successive Saturday that the Dons had performed well against a team higher up the ladder after a 2-2 draw at home to Watford seven days ago.
Taylor (pictured left celebrating with Tom Elliott) showed his sharpness once again in front of goal to edge the Dons in front during a match that Wimbledon played very well in for long spells.
Taylor got his first start in a Dons shirt and James Shea was back between the sticks as Neal Ardley shuffled his pack once again for Wimbledon’s third pre-season match.
The Dons could have been in front early on when Sean Rigg swung over a free-kick that eluded Millwall goalkeeper David Forde, but Will Nightingale headed over from close range. At the other end, Joe Martin tried his luck from 25 yards, but his effort was well over the crossbar.
There was a setback for Millwall when striker Aiden O’Brien had to be stretchered off and just minutes later the visitors slipped behind. Though it was a goal simple in its execution, there was no doubting the quality of Lyle Taylor’s finishing yet again. The man who scored a hat-trick at Basingstoke was at it yet again as he showed sharp movement to latch onto a long ball, before beating Forde with the minimum of fuss.
At this stage, the Dons were well in charge and an impressive team move ended with Jon Meades setting up a shooting chance for Jake Reeves, but his effort from 20 yards was too high. With Andy Barcham and Sean Rigg showing good skills on the left, it all looked very encouraging for the Dons. And there was little to worry Wimbledon at the back, in particular thanks to the towering presence of Nightingale, who made one brilliant tackle in the area on Fred Onyedinma.
minute when Wimbledon only half cleared a corner and James Shea had to be alert to tip over a shot from Byron Webster. It needed more good defending from Nightingale to deny Millwall when Shaun Cummings sent over a cross from the right and Jon Marquis got there first, but the Wimbledon defender blocked his goal-bound effort.thMillwall finally had a shot on goal in the 37
The Dons held their advantage until half-time and it had been a promising first half from Neal Ardley’s men as they showed attacking threat and resilience in defence.
Just one change was made by Wimbledon at half-time with Bayo Akinfenwa entering the fray for Taylor, who could be well satisfied with another goalscoring display as well as taking another step towards full fitness.
James Shea had to stay alert to turn away a 20-yard free-kick from Joe Martin around the post, but Wimbledon continued to cause problems for Millwall in attack. A well delivered corner from George Francomb was met by Karleigh Osborne, but his header flashed just over and then Rigg struck a powerful effort that was too close to Forde. Francomb also had a shooting chance himself after good work by Barry Fuller and Rigg, but he curled high and wide after cutting in from the right.
Millwall had been well shackled as we reached the hour mark, only a John Marquis lob over the crossbar having threatened to change matters. Nightingale and Osborne had shown plenty of promise as a centre-back partnership and when they were beaten, Barry Fuller was there to stop Onyedinma going clean through.
Neal Ardley gave more of his group vital game time on the hour with Ade Azeez and David Fitzpatrick on for Tom Elliott and Sean Rigg.
The Dons made four more changes with 65 minutes on the clock. Christian Toonga, Callum Kennedy, Dannie Bulman and Tom Beere were all introduced for Jon Meades, Andy Barcham, Jake Reeves and George Francomb.
With Ben Harrison, George Pilbeam and Ryan Sweeney all entering the fray for Osborne, Fuller and Nightingale, it meant that Wimbledon ended the match with a particularly youthful defence. Shea had to be at his best with 15 minutes to go as he beat away a fierce drive from Ed Upson. There was a let-off for Wimbledon when Millwall substitute Alfie Pavey fired wide from close range after a spell of Millwall pressure.
The match ended in worrying circumstances for the Dons with Callum Kennedy stretchered off and Ade Azeez also having to go off to due to injury. That meant Wimbledon ended with just nine men and Millwall’s late pressure told when Nelson headed home after the Dons had failed to clear a corner.
Overall, it had been a positive match for Wimbledon and a good way to sign off before heading off for La Manga on Monday.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea (Joe McDonnell), Barry Fuller (George Pilbeam), Karleigh Osborne (Ryan Sweeney), Jon Meades (Christian Toonga), Will Nightingale (Ben Harrison), Andy Barcham (Callum Kennedy), George Francomb (Dannie Bulman), Jake Reeves (Tom Beere), Tom Elliott (Ade Azeez), Lyle Taylor (Bayo Akinfenwa), Sean Rigg (Ade Azeez).
The picture above was taken by Stuart Butcher of Pro Sports Images.