Oakley strike was just not enough
AFC Wimbledon had to settle for a point in tonight’s Final Third Development League Cup group match against Milton Keynes after George Oakley’s opener was cancelled out five minutes from time.
Oakley (pictured), who had struck six goals in previous matches against Milton Keynes at Under-18 and development level, threatened to make the difference once again, but a superb late leveller from Callum Brittain secured a 1-1 draw for the visitors.
It was a wide open game at Merstham FC featuring a host of chances for both sides and it was a surprise that only two goals were scored in an entertaining match.
Wimbledon’s starting 11 was boosted by the inclusion of Callum Kennedy, who was the most experienced player on the pitch. It was a chance for Kennedy to get some more game-time after his first-team substitute appearance against Barnet. Christian Toonga was also aiming to boost his match sharpness after finally gaining international clearance to play.
A Milton Keynes side consisting of several Under-18 players could have taken the lead inside three minutes. The rain-sodden turf didn’t help Ryan Sweeney’s cause and Brittain managed to get in behind, but he dragged his shot wide. Wimbledon responded by creating chances of their own and David Fitzpatrick had the first shot on target in the game, but MK goalkeeper Peter Kioso responded well to get down low and save.
Tom Beere fashioned a good chance for himself when he cut inside smartly to set-up a shooting opportunity, but he shot wide. Wimbledon created more opportunities before the half hour mark as they spread the ball around well on a pitch that was difficult to play football on after a pre-match downpour. Trialist centre back Addison Garnett came so close to an opener when he rose superbly to meet a corner from Beere, but his header was just wide. Then George Oakley produced a lovely turn to beat his marker after latching onto a through ball from Callum Wilson, but he shot just wide.
Wimbledon certainly didn’t have it all their own way though and the visitors looked sharp in attack when they did manage to get on the ball. Connor Furlong created havoc in the box with his pace and the ball dropped favourably for Kevin Owusu after a goalmouth scramble, but he failed to connect properly and Joe McDonnell was able to gather. Milton Keynes caused plenty of problems with their pacy, young forwards and Kabongo Tshimanga had two good chances in quick succession. First, he broke through with a fine run and shot just over the bar, before firing off target with an even more presentable opportunity.
The moment of the first half came 10 minutes before half-time when Kennedy burst down the left and his cross fell favourably for Fitzpatrick, who produced a superb shot that was matched by the quality of the save from MK goalkeeper Andy McCorkell.
There was another moment of quality from Kennedy shortly into the second half when he burst down the left and stood up a lovely cross to the back post, but it just eluded George Oakley. There was no lack of commitment on a pitch that was becoming heavy in the second half due to the conditions and Dan Gallagher got in some notable tackles to keep Wimbledon on top.
minute when Oakley showed a good poacher’s instinct to continue his impressive scoring sequence against Milton Keynes. The striker got in front of his marker to meet Garnett’s shot across goal and his effort just had enough on it to beat McCorkell. There was a good response from MK though and it needed Garnett to make an excellent last-ditch block to stop a goal-bound shot from Adam Hunt.thWimbledon took the lead in the 56
The chances continued to come for Wimbledon though with Gallagher having an effort saved by McCorkell and then Oakley heading wide. There was so nearly a goal that would have graced any stage just after the hour when Kennedy spotted McCorkell off his line and struck a superb 40-yard effort that the MK goalkeeper just managed to get back and save. Wimbledon produced a good spell of football midway through the second half with plenty of possession and it was so nearly 2-0 when Ben Harrison sent over a lovely ball that Gallagher almost headed in.
Coach Alan Reeves made a double change with 20 minutes to go. Toonga, who showed some classy touches on his return, was replaced by Jason Stripp and 16-year-old Jayden Antwi came on for George Oakley.
With Wimbledon squandering plenty of chances, the game was far from over at 1-0 and Brittain shot agonisingly wide for the visitors. However, there was no reprieve for Wimbledon when Brittain fired a wonder strike that bounced in off a post and left McDonnell with no chance.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Callum Wilson, Dan Gallagher, Ben Harrison, Ryan Sweeney, Addison Garnett, Tom Beere, Christian Toonga (Jason Stripp), George Oakley (Jayden Antwi), David Fitzpatrick, Callum Kennedy (Neset Bellikli).