Striker returns with a bang to spark Dons victory
Tom Elliott marked his return after injury with a double to earn victory in Wimbledon's penultimate friendly, just eight days before the Dons begin life in League One.
The Dons striker (pictured) netted a powerfully headed double in a 2-1 victory over National League Woking at the Laithwaite Community Stadium.
Elliott, who was deemed ready for action after missing Crystal Palace due to hip and back trouble, returned up front to partner Dominic Poleon and there was a further boost with George Oakley back on the bench for the first-team having recovered from a broken leg.
James Shea started in goal, having kept a clean sheet in his last appearance against Reading. Trialist Sean Kelly returned at left back in a youthful defence. Dannie Bulman, wearing the captain's arm band, and Chris Whelpdale added experience to the midfield.
The Cards included defender Ismail Yakubu, who came on as a substitute for the Dons in the Conference play-off final victory over Luton in 2011, and also forward Delano Sam-Yorke, another squad member from that successful campaign.
Elliott gave Woking keeper Brandon Hall an easy take after three minutes, but collected a bang to the head for his efforts. Three minutes later though, Elliott powerfully headed the Dons into the lead from a Kelly corner.
Woking's response was immediate with the hosts clattering the framework from a set-piece. Toby Sibbick, usually a centre-back, thrived in the right-back role early on as he broke effectively down the wing.
Halfway through the half an Alfie Egan header, following good build-up play from Poleon and Whelpdale, produced a stunning save from Hall. Yakubu and Elliott required treatment in the aftermath of the goalmouth skirmish. Sam-Yorke picked up an injury shortly before half time and had to be substituted.
Woking continued to stay with the pace of the game and were deservedly back on level terms shortly before the break when Shea failed to hold on to a Chike Kandi cross shot, which Charlie Penny put away at close range.
There was better to come from Elliott three minutes after half-time when his downward header from a Bulman cross restored the Dons lead.
Dan Gallagher again worked hard in midfield for the Dons having been given another first team opportunity. Fabio Saraiva flashed a low long range shot wide of Shea on the hour.
The Cards continued to press for another equaliser, but the Dons backline of Sibbick, Will Nightingale, Ryan Sweeney and Kelly continued to provide solid protection for Shea.
A rare opening for Woking ended with Max Kretzschmar giving Shea a straight-forward save from a free-kick with just under twenty minutes to go. Poleon tried to convert from close range from an Elliott cross immediately down the other end.
Though Aaron Smith-Joseph had a chance to level for Woking five minutes before the end, the ball got caught under his foot. Wimbledon held on for a victory that came with the bonus of a number of youngsters producing impressive performances. Next up the Dons visit Dagenham tomorrow with the rest of Wimbledon’s squad aiming to boost their match fitness and sign off pre-season with another win.
Poleon, Whelpdale.(Olusanya), AFC Wimbledon: Shea, Sibbick, Kelly, Bulman, Nightingale, Sweeney, Gallagher, Egan, Elliott
Picture credit: Stuart Butcher, Pro Sports Images.