Elliott, Taylor and Poleon net in opening defeat
Tom Elliott, Lyle Taylor and Dominic Poleon were on target for AFC Wimbledon as they slipped to a 4-3 defeat in a seven goal, second-half thriller at non-league Dover Athletic.
Just 43 days after the celebrations at Wembley and promotion to League One, the Dons returned to action at Crabble against the National League side.
Neal Ardley (pic) named a mixed starting eleven of experience and youth for the first half with new goalkeeper Ryan Clarke making his first appearance in Dons colours. Barry Fuller wore the captain’s arm band, Paul Kalambayi got a chance at centre back alongside Will Nightingale with Jon Meades at left back.
Dannie Bulman was joined by Tom Beere and FA Youth Cup hero Alfie Egan in midfield with Toyosi Olusanya playing in a 4-3-3 formation with Tom Elliott and Andy Barcham.
Simon Bassey was the presence in the Dons dug out as Neal Ardley took a seat in the main stand for the start of the game.
Clarke took an easy catch of the ball off the head of Richard Orlu of Dover after seven minutes, the first chance for either side of the game. Mitch Pinnock flashed a cross-shot across goal a few minutes later as Dover took the game to the Dons. Barcham led the response with his usual, penetrating runs down the left side.
Wimbledon came under more pressure approaching the midway stage of the second half with Fuller forced to clear from the lively Orlu. The defensive line managed to cope with Dover’s attacking intent.
The breakthrough came shortly after, but it was the Dons though that took the lead from the penalty spot. Jack Parkinson brought down the pacey Olusanya and Tom Elliott dispatched the ball with confidence and power.
With half-time approaching there was another heavy rain shower for the lush, green playing surface, but Dons held the lead at the break after an unspectacular first half.
James Shea started in goal for the second half with Dan Gallagher, Paul Robinson, Ryan Sweeney and trialist Aaron Greene, previously with Brentford, across the back. New signings Chris Whelpdale and Dean Parrett joined Jake Reeves in a 4-4-2 formation with David Fitzpatrick on the wing. Top scorer Lyle Taylor began a new partnership up front with new signing Dominic Poleon.
Dover were back on level terms just a couple of minutes into the second half as James Shea failed to deal with a low cross from Jordon Chiedozie and Ira Jackson Junior equalised. It wasn’t for long though, as last season’s top scorer Lyle Taylor quickly restored the Dons lead.
The second half really came to life after 54 minutes when Tyrone Marsh netted past Shea from a Jackson Junior free-kick. After 59 minutes Dover took the lead when Chiedozie smashed the ball past Shea, in what had become a totally different game compared to the first half. With the game turned on its head the Dons were given a test in their preparations, in front of a crowd of 398.
With 20 minutes to go the Dons lost Dean Parrett to facial injury after both he and Dover’s Jonathan Meluba went down in the centre circle. Neset Bellikli was called into action from the bench for the remainder of the game.
Mark Donniger added a fourth for Dover in the closing minutes. New striker Dominic Poleon also scored from the penalty spot for Wimbledon to reduce the score.
However the Dons came up short on this occasion, as the squad completed 45 minutes each in their opening run out, ahead of a return to Kent this Saturday to face Margate.