Match report as Dons just come up short against Luton
Ade Azeez scored twice and Callum Kennedy clocked up vital game time, but AFC Wimbledon were edged out by Luton Town in the Final Third Development League today.
A narrow 3-2 defeat in a match played at Hitchin Town meant that Alan Reeves’ side missed out on the opportunity to narrow the gap on league leaders AFC Bournemouth.
Wimbledon’s starting line-up included Kennedy, Paul Kalambayi, Dan Gallagher, David Fitzpatrick and Azeez - all five having been on the bench for the first team at Morecambe on Saturday.
Luton also fielded a strong side with the quartet of goalkeeper Elliott Justham, Magnus Okuonghae, Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu and Joe Pigott all featuring in the squad that lost 4-1 to the Dons in League 2 last month.
Left back Ben Harrison took the captain's armband, having returned from his loan with Tonbridge Angels and Kennedy slotted into the left wing slot.
Alex Atkinson gave Luton the lead after just seven minutes as he nodded in from close range, the referee unimpressed by claims for offside.
Wimbledon attempted to get back on level terms through Fitzpatrick on the right with Harrison and Kennedy offering good width on the left. An Azeez effort ended up just wide 10 minutes later from Harrison's delivery.
Halfway through the first half, it needed Dons keeper Will Mannion and centre back Kalambayi to combine on the line to deny Luton a second.
minute through Azeez. Gallagher broke up play and the Dons worked the ball through Kennedy and the lively Olusanya for Azeez, who netted with a low side footed effort past Justham.thHowever, the Dons equalised in the 24
The lead didn't last long though as Luton captain Ruddock-Mpanzu restored the Hatters advantage just after the half hour with a comfortable finish, Andy Awford's side fighting back in an entertaining opening to the game.
Kennedy continued to be a threat for the Dons from set pieces, but it was Luton who finished the half the stronger to hold a 2-1 lead at the break. Gallagher worked hard in the visitors’ engine room, with Jason Stripp impressing too.
Callum Wilson came on for George Pilbeam at the break as Wimbledon attempted to start the second half positively with Olusanya turning on the pace again, forcing the Luton defence into action.
Approaching the midway point of the second-half, Wimbledon made a change up front with Dan Ano replacing Olusanya.
Both keepers had to stay on alert with opportunities at both ends. Mannion kept out Luton from close range, while at the other end Azeez again attempted to get the better of Justham.
FA Youth Cup hero Alfie Egan replaced Stripp after 70 minutes as Wimbledon looked for more attacking impetus.
Kalambayi looked solid at the back throughout, but he was powerless to prevent Luton extending their lead 12 minutes to go when Justin powered a header home from an accurate cross.
With Callum Kennedy having had a useful work out, Alan Reeves brought on Neset Bellikli for the final 10 minutes. There was still time for Azeez to reduce the scoreline with a simple finish from the spot two minutes from time after Bellikli had been brought down in the area.
Ultimately, the young Dons just came up short, but they will have a quick chance for revenge with Luton in opposition at home next week.
AFC Wimbledon: Will Mannion, George Pilbeam (Callum Wilson), Ben Harrison, Dan Gallagher, Paul Kalambayi, Toby Sibbick, David Fitzpatrick, Jason Stripp (Alfie Egan), Ade Azeez, Toyosi Olusanya (Dan Ano), Callum Kennedy (Neset Bellikli).