Honours even in pre-season friendly
A first-half goal from Lyle Taylor meant that AFC Wimbledon avoided a second successive pre-season defeat in Kent.
Manager Neal Ardley said afterwards that he was pleased with the competitive nature of the 1-1 draw and an improved performance from his side at Margate after a midweek defeat at Dover.
National League South side Margate included several former Dons in their side and they provided AFC Wimbledon with a big test on the day. However, Wimbledon responded through that man Taylor and new signings offered promising signs for when the real action begins in three weeks.
The manager selected a strong side at Margate with five players who started at Wembley among his line-up. New signings Dean Parrett, Chris Whelpdale and Dominic Poleon were given more game-time and Neal Ardley also included a trialist from the start with former St Mirren defender Sean Kelly handed an opportunity.
minute when former Don Elliott Buchanan got in behind Wimbledon’s defence to latch onto a through ball from Aaron Tumwa, before producing a clinical finish past James Shea.thBeaten 3-0 on their last visit to Margate two years ago, Wimbledon’s start did not exactly suggest that things were going to be different this time around. Wimbledon fell behind in the 12
In response, Wimbledon started to come into it with Poleon catching the eye on the left flank. The former Leeds forward’s trickery tempted Adam Cash – son of former Wimbledon assistant manager Stuart - into a challenge and referee Ian Fissenden adjudged that the foul was just in the box. Though Lyle Taylor’s subsequent penalty was well saved by Margate goalkeeper Charlie Grainger, the Wimbledon striker reacted quickly to fire home the rebound emphatically.
Wimbledon threatened to take the game by the scruff of the neck when a fine move ended with Dean Parrett putting a cross over, but no one was able to get on the end of it. At the other end, Margate retained a threat with former Wimbledon midfielder Luke Moore setting up Alex Osborn, but his shot was just over.
In contrast to the raft of half-time changes at Dover on Tuesday, Neal Ardley sent on just two substitutes for the second-half. Ryan Clarke replaced Shea in goal with Dannie Bulman also entering the fray for Whelpdale. Wimbledon made a bright start to the second-half and it was so nearly 2-1 less than a minute into the action. Taylor, who was deployed on the left of a front three in the second-half with Poleon on the other side, sent over a lovely cross that picked out Tom Elliott, but his header flashed just wide.
In a competitive friendly, both sides threatened in the second-half and Margate substitute Michael Thalassitis headed just wide after a good cross by Cash from the left. Former Don Brett Johnson was introduced in the second-half for Margate and Wimbledon made seven substitutions in total just after the hour. Ryan Sweeney, Tom Beere, Paul Kalambayi, Alfie Egan, Andy Barcham, Toyosi Olusanya and Dan Gallagher all entered the fray with Paul Robinson, Jake Reeves, Jon Meades, Dean Parrett, Lyle Taylor, Tom Elliott and Dominic Poleon all departing.
The changes so nearly resulted in a goal for Wimbledon almost instantly. Egan pounced in the box after a flick-on from Barcham, but his shot was saved by Grainger and Olusanya shot just over with the rebound. Olusanya was a constant menace to Margate after his introduction with his pace and trickery causing plenty of problems. One foray down the left by Olusanya ended with a lovely ball to the back post that Egan rose highest to meet, but his header was saved by Grainger.
Though Margate piled on some late pressure, Wimbledon refused to buckle with Ryan Clarke showing all of his experience by coming for crosses effectively. At the other end, Wimbledon failed to conjure up a winner, but it was a much-improved showing after Dover on Tuesday night.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea (Ryan Clarke), Barry Fuller, Jon Meades (Paul Kalambayi), Sean Kelly, Paul Robinson (Ryan Sweeney), Jake Reeves (Tom Beere), Tom Elliott (Toyosi Olusanya), Dominic Poleon (Dan Gallagher), Chris Whelpdale (Dannie Bulman), Dean Parrett (Alfie Egan), Lyle Taylor (Andy Barcham).
Picture credit: Stuart Butcher, Pro Sports Images.