Neal Ardley's men edge out Dagenham
A first-half goal from David Fitzpatrick was enough for AFC Wimbledon to sign-off pre-season with a victory at Dagenham & Redbridge today.
Fitzpatrick’s fine header secured a 1-0 win that came less than 24 hours after beating Woking last night. Assistant manager Neil Cox reported afterwards that the Dons had no fresh injury concerns with everyone having come through unscathed ahead of the big kick-off at Walsall next Saturday.
Neal Ardley fielded a side at Dagenham that is unlikely to be too far away from a potential starting 11 for Walsall next Saturday. Certainly, the back four had a familiar feel with Barry Fuller, Paul Robinson, Darius Charles and Jon Meades deployed in defence, though Ryan Clarke was between the sticks on this occasion after James Shea’s appearance at Woking.
The Dons started with plenty of possession, but it was Dagenham who had the better of the first 20 minutes. Ryan Clarke was fortunate that his clearance bounced back into his hands via Dagenham’s Oliver Hawkins. Then Hawkins, who was a constant threat early on, had a sight of goal after turning Paul Robinson, but the Wimbledon defender used all of his experience to get back and block.
minute with Lyle Taylor requiring treatment, but he was thankfully okay to continue. Dawkins also headed wide from close-range. However, the Dons started to find a few gaps in the Dagenham defence as the first-half progressed and a fine move ended with Barcham shooting just wide with his weaker right foot. There was not long though to wait for the opening goal and it was a fine one too. Barcham put over a deep cross to the back post and David Fitzpatrick headed home with a lovely looping header.thThere was a worrying sight for Wimbledon in the 10
As we approached the half hour mark, Wimbledon started to take control with Dean Parrett and Jake Reeves earning possession. Parrett, who again looked promising in attacking positions, sent over a great cross that Taylor met, but his header was just deflected wide. There was better to come as one excellent move involving Fitzpatrick and Barcham ended with a dangerous cross from Fuller that Taylor was just unable to reach.
As Wimbledon took charge of possession, Dagenham forays forward proved few and far between, though home captain Luke Gutteridge had a great chance, but he sliced wide from close range. A 1-0 half-time Dons lead perhaps reflected the balance of play.
Neal Ardley decided not to make any half-time changes as he wanted to get 90 minutes into key men before the real action begins. Dagenham started better after the interval and another presentable chance fell for Hawkins after a fine cross from Jordan Maguire Drew, but his header was just wide.
Wimbledon had struggled to fashion any second-half opportunities by the hour mark, but improvement did come. Sharp play by Taylor created space for himself and he unselfishly put a ball through for Fitzpatrick, but he was just unable to reach it. A first chance of the second-half came after the introduction of Toyosi Olusanya for Fitzpatrick. One of last season’s FA Youth Cup heroes, Olusanya made a name for himself with his blinding pace and another demonstration of that came when he latched onto a through ball and drove forward, but he was just denied by Daggers keeper Elliot Justham.
Neset Bellikli, another one of last season’s successful Under-18s, was introduced with nine minutes to play for Tom Beere. Wimbledon had a great chance to seal victory with five minutes left when Paul Robinson got on the end of a corner, but his header was well saved by Justham. The Dons were unable to add to their tally, but it was a victory nevertheless and everyone appeared to come through unscathed ahead of the big one next Saturday.
AFC Wimbledon: Clarke, Fuller, Meades, Robinson, Reeves, Beere (Bellikli), Barcham, Parrett, Fitzpatrick (Olusanya), Taylor, Charles.
Picture credit: Micah Crook.