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Dons pegged back by K's

30 July 2015

Solo goal from George Pilbeam provides the highlight

AFC Wimbledon had to settle for another pre-season draw tonight after a superb goal from George Pilbeam had threatened to win it.

Pilbeam struck early in the second-half with a lovely goal, but it ended 1-1 with a goal from Kingstonian’s Malachi Hudson. It meant that Wimbledon have now drawn three successive matches after beating Basingstoke Town, but the Dons could end pre-season unbeaten with a positive result against Cheltenham on Saturday.

minute of his testimonial.ndRob Tolfrey was given a great ovation by the crowd of 504 supporters when he came off in the 62

The picture above (taken by Stuart Butcher) shows Ryan Sweeney battling for possession with his brother Dan, who came on in the second-half for Kingstonian.

Neal Ardley fielded plenty of youth for his side’s penultimate pre-season match with Joe McDonnell, George Pilbeam, Ryan Sweeney, Will Nightingale, Tom Beere, Christian Toonga, George Oakley and David Fitzpatrick all aged 21 or under.

With just four substitutes named on the bench for the Dons, it was clear that the intention was to give many of Wimbledon’s squad 90 minutes ahead of the big kick-off.

Nightingale was an influential presence at both ends of the pitch early on. First, he showed good awareness to stop former AFC Wimbledon striker Richard Jolly from marching through and then the centre-back so nearly got on the end of a free-kick from Tom Beere.

There had been little goalmouth action in the first half hour of a keenly-contested match in midfield. Seventeen-year-old Christian Toonga again showed composure in midfield for one so young and he sent over a lovely ball from the left that just eluded everyone in the box.

Though it looked promising at times for Wimbledon, Rob Tolfrey was not troubled in the Kingstonian goal during the first-half of his testimonial match. Indeed, K’s had the best chance of the first-half a few minutes before the break when Jolly broke the offside trap and bore down on goal, but McDonnell reacted well to save.

One of five half-time changes for K’s included former Dons youth teamer Dan Sweeney entering the fray and that meant he was up against his brother Ryan in the Wimbledon team. The Dons started with more urgency after the break with Jon Meades starting to break forward from midfield. A bold run from the Welshman ended with a pass that set Fitzpatrick free, but his cross was just cleared.

minute. Malachi Hudson showed plenty of pace to get behind the Wimbledon defence and his effort found the bottom minute. Pilbeam latched onto a pass from Jon Meades and beat three men with a lovely piece of skill, before leaving Tolfrey with no chance as his shot curled into the roof of the net. It had been a better second half from the Dons with more attacking momentum, but Kingstonian were celebrating an equaliser in the 66stThe opening goal was certainly worth the wait though when it came in the 51

Pilbeam also showed his ability at the other end as he blocked Jake Kempton’s goal-bound effort. With six minutes left, Wimbledon made a substitution with Egli Kaja replacing George Oakley and the Dons were forced into another change when Toonga pulled up injured and Dan Gallagher entered the fray.

Kingstonian could have snatched victory with time running out when Pelayo Pico Gomez found space on the back post, but he dragged his shot wide. There was still time for Nightingale to threaten a late winner for Wimbledon, but his header looped just over the crossbar.

AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, George Pilbeam, Ryan Sweeney, Will Nightingale, Callum Kennedy, Tom Beere, Jon Meades (Ben Harrison), Christian Toonga (Dan Gallagher), Sean Rigg, George Oakley (Egli Kaja), David Fitzpatrick.

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