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Duo increase fitness as young Dons win opener

Forrester on target in Central League victory at Bournemouth

6 September 2017

By Rob Cornell

Alan Reeves' development side got their Central League campaign off to the best possible start and were able to give Neal Ardley a double fitness boost.

Harry Forrester increased his game time and notched the match-winner as an exciting young Dons team won 1-0 at Canford Park Arena against AFC Bournemouth.

Reeves named Tom Soares in midfield for his first game since returning from a thigh injury and he came through 45 minutes, while Forrester - who figured in the previous two first-team games - continued to build on his match fitness with over an hour of game time.

New Zealand keeper Nik Tzanev kept a clean sheet and there was also that winning feeling for Tom Scott at left back, defender Osaze Urhoghide and midfielder Ossama Ashley, all of whom stepped up from the under-18s.

The Dons made an excellent start as they pushed Bournemouth back from the off with shots on goal from Neset Bellikli, the lively Egli Kaja and one over the crossbar from distance from Scott.

After Kaja was brought down in the area and no penalty was awarded, Wimbledon deservedly had the lead three minutes later when Forrester cut in from the wing and fired low across goal with the ball going in off the post midway through the half.

At the other end, Tzanev was untroubled, as he dealt comfortably with what the hosts had to offer.

Kaja had the ball in the back of the net with half-time looming, but the linesman's flag was up. The Albanian prospect had a very good first half and was backed up well on the right by Toby Sibbick as the Dons went in as deserved leaders at the break.

Although feeling a little tight after the experience, Soares completed 45 minutes on his return and Ashley replaced him at the start of the second-half.

Scott was in a characteristic vocal mood at the back for Wimbledon as they again made a bright start to the second period, with Forrester firing over from an angle.

Wimbledon had to work harder in the third quarter of the game as skipper Paul Kalambayi and Will Nightingale stood firm at the back. Forrester produced a good save from the Bournemouth keeper.

It had been a good workout for Forrester too. For the last quarter of the game, former Academy player Nathan Wood pulled on a Dons shirt again to replace him after 68 minutes .

Urhoghide had earlier come on for Nightingale and there was an opportunity for Ajani Domingo-Carrington to impress in the closing stages as he replaced Bellikli.

Tzanev had his palms stung from a save with quarter of an hour to go. The Cherries had a chance to equalise in time added on, but put the ball wide of the upright as Wimbledon held on for a deserved opening day victory.

AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev Sibbick Nightingale (Urhoghide) Kalambayi Scott Bellikli (Domingo-Carrington) Egan Soares (Ashley) Forrester (Wood) Kaja Antwi.

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