Dons finish with a flourish at Grand Drive
Superb late goals from Reece Williams-Bowers and Toyosi Olusanya finally saw off a plucky challenge from Combined Counties Premier side Raynes Park Vale tonight.
It was an extremely positive night at Grand Drive as first-team players including Will Nightingale boosted their fitness and young players gained experience for the development squad against a senior side.
The 2-0 victory was achieved with Nightingale getting 70 minutes under his belt and George Oakley put six months out with a broken leg behind him by playing for half an hour.
and Olusanya changed all that late on.(pictured right above)Still, it would have been more than a little disappointing if the young Dons had not been able to get the better of Vale, but Williams-Bowers
Back at a venue where AFC Wimbledon played in Combined Counties League days, there was a decent crowd on a scorching summer night at Raynes Park Vale. AFC Wimbledon fielded a strong side at Raynes Park Vale as it included several players with first-team experience. Centre-back Nightingale and winger David Fitzpatrick were among those getting run-outs as Neal Ardley preferred to give them game-time here rather than be a part of the first-team training camp in South Wales.
David Fitzpatrick fashioned a shooting opportunity for himself when he cut inside smartly, but his shot was into the side netting. Fitzpatrick then took responsibility from a promising free-kick situation 25 yards out, but his effort sailed over the crossbar. Alan Reeves fielded two trialists in his line-up and former Bradford full-back Jack Walters showed promise with his touch and defensive qualities. Wimbledon enjoyed plenty of possession early on, though they struggled to create clear-cut opportunities.
Hosts Raynes Park exerted pressure around the half hour mark with the Wimbledon centre-back pairing of Nightingale and Kalambayi having to show composure from several set pieces. Nightingale was a steady influence at the back as he got much-needed game-time ahead of the new season.
Wimbledon had their best spell so far just before half-time. The best chance of the first-half fell for Jayden Antwi, who almost scored with his first chance. With Toyosi Olusanya substituted just before half-time, Antwi so nearly took his chance immediately when he rose highest to meet a cross from Egli Kaja, but his header was just off target. Antwi was a real livewire after coming on and he so nearly got on the end of a cross from Fitzpatrick, before Kaja cracked a shot from just outside the area wide.
With Wimbledon having failed to build on their strong end to the first-half, it needed something to change that and, as planned beforehand, George Oakley came on as substitute for Kaja. With 70 minutes on the clock, Nightingale departed and Toby Sibbick entered the fray. Playing at full-back, Sibbick produced several impressive runs down the right to drive his side forward. Williams-Bowers was also given an opportunity to build upon his promising performances for the Under-18s. The fact it was a pre-season friendly was best underlined when Olusanya returned to the attack in place of Antwi.
Following a spell of pressure, the breakthrough finally arrived 12 minutes from time – and it was certainly worth waiting for. With the physical presence of Oakley causing all sorts of problems from a through ball, Williams-Bowers was left unmarked just outside the box. There was still plenty still to do when Williams-Bowers turned inside onto his left foot, but he struck a superb effort that left the goalkeeper with no chance.
The best was still to come from Wimbledon though as Olusanya once again showed his rich promise. The pacy forward produced a brilliant solo run, leaving defenders trailing in his wake, before producing a crisp low finish. Though a third goal failed to arrive, it had been a more than useful exercise with first-team squad players boosting their fitness and youngsters showing exactly what they were capable of.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Jack Walters (Reece Williams-Bowers), Will Nightingale (Toby Sibbick), Paul Kalambayi, Seth Owens, Egli Kaja (George Oakley), Seanan McKillop, Dan Gallagher, Nathan Wood, David Fitzpatrick, Toyosi Olusanya (Jayden Antwi, Toyosi Olusanya).