Pre-season friendly ends in narrow defeat
AFC Wimbledon again showed plenty of pre-season promise for when the real action begins by giving Premier League Crystal Palace a run for their money.
An entertaining friendly in front of a crowd of 2,391 ended with the Dons beaten 3-2, but there was once again plenty of positives against higher level opposition.
As expected, Neal Ardley shuffled his pack with two more games to come this week and seven changes were made to the side that started against Reading. Having sat out Saturday’s game, goalkeeper James Clarke was given game-time in place of James Shea and captain Barry Fuller was restored to the back-line.
Alan Pardew selected a strong starting 11 with plenty of attacking talent including Yannick Bolasie and Jason Puncheon. Unsurprisingly, Palace dominated early possession and the Dons were forced to defend resolutely, in particular when Fuller just did enough to stop Bolasie bursting through. At the other end, Tom Beere tried his luck with a curled effort just wide.
In similar fashion to Saturday’s tactic against Reading, Wimbledon sprung plenty of attacks on the break and it almost paid off again midway through the half. Lyle Taylor showed lovely skill to beat two challenges, before letting fly with a fine effort that was deflected just wide.
The game sprung to life just before the half hour when Palace snatched the lead. A cross was whipped in from the left by Zeki Fryers and Connor Wickham steered home just inside the far post. A good response followed from Wimbledon as the hosts threatened an equaliser. Dean Parrett came close to making it two goals in two games after being set-up by Beere, but his fiercely struck shot was diverted wide by a Palace defender.
minute. Winning the ball from Damien Delaney deep in the area, Parrett showed plenty of composure to square the ball to Taylor and he made no mistake to notch the equaliser. Young midfielder Beere showed plenty of promise in the first-half with his midfield invention and one flash of his right boot almost ended with David Fitzpatrick racing through on goal, but he was just unable to reach it. The half ended with Wickham striking a fine free-kick that bounced off the inside of a post.thThere was better to come from Wimbledon before the break with more midfield industry from Parrett earning the ultimate reward in the 38
Neal Ardley resisted the temptation to make half-time changes, but Alan Pardew did make substitutions before the restart. Just before the hour England international Andros Townsend entered the fray after making a summer switch from Newcastle United. Palace exerted little pressure in the first 15 minutes of the second-half as Wimbledon coped comfortably. With confidence in the home ranks growing, Taylor tried his luck with a 25-yard strike that Speroni had to watch all the way.
minute when Palace substitute Freddie Ladapo was allowed to get in behind and he squared the ball for Bolasie to tap home. When Ladapo found the back of the net with a glancing header, it threatened to be a long end to the evening for Wimbledon. However, a bizarre own goal followed less than a minute later. There seemed to be little danger when Pape Souare met a long ball, but he never saw Speroni off his line and his header looped over the Palace keeper and into the net.thWimbledon made a treble of substitutions midway through the half with Dannie Bulman, Dominic Poleon and Chris Whelpdale all introduced in place of Jake Reeves, Lyle Taylor and David Fitzpatrick. The Dons slipped behind in the 68
Though the Dons failed to really threaten an equaliser, it had been another encouraging pre-season display against higher level opposition from Neal Ardley’s men.
AFC Wimbledon: Ryan Clarke, Barry Fuller, Jon Meades (Will Nightingale), Paul Robinson, Darius Charles (Ryan Sweeney), David Fitzpatrick (Chris Whelpdale), Dean Parrett (Dan Gallagher), Jake Reeves (Dannie Bulman), Lyle Taylor (Dominic Poleon), Tom Beere, Andy Barcham.
Picture credit: Stuart Butcher, Pro Sports Images.