By Rob Cornell
Will Nightingale stepped up his return to full fitness with a goal from 30 yards, as Alan Reeves’ development side tasted victory at The Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Having recovered from a knee injury, the centre-back (pictured) was a vocal presence throughout the game. He guided a young Dons back line as he continues to push for a place in Neal Ardley's line-up. Nightingale's second-half goal, just past the hour mark in the Central League fixture, helped seal a 3-1 victory over Forest Green Rovers.
Richard Pingling gave Wimbledon an early lead, while Tino Carpene followed up with a good finish and the third goal that ended the contest.
Afterwards, Development Coach Alan Reeves gave his post-match assessment, which you can see below via a link to our official YouTube channel.
After a fast and frantic opening from both sides, it was the Dons who took the lead through Pingling after an excellent through ball from Ethan Nelson-Roberts. The former Burnley youngster rounded the keeper and applied the finishing touch.
A couple of minutes later, the lively Egli Kaja was keen to impress the watching first team management, as he produced a stinging save out of Sam Russell in the visitor's goal.
The game continued at pace, with Wimbledon looking the more threatening by the midway point of the first-half as they looked to extend their lead. Shortly before the half hour mark, Pingling had a header cleared off the line.
Nightingale produced a great through ball from the back for Pingling to chase after 32 minutes. He did well to tee up a chance for Carpene.
The hosts continued to create good opportunities for Carpene with half time looming and Kaja blazed over with a couple of minutes remaining, but the Dons held a single goal lead at the break.
Wimbledon continued to dominate after the restart as the younger players became more confident in first team surroundings. Alfie Egan added to the attacking play.
Eventually a two-goal burst in quick succession came as reward for Wimbledon's efforts. Firstly, Nightingale hit a superb half volley from distance for the overdue second in the 62nd minute. Three minutes later Carpene, who has been in good goal scoring form for the under-18s, put the game beyond Forest Green as he finished well, shooting across goal inside the penalty area.
Ossama Ashley replaced Nelson-Roberts and provided a cross as Wimbledon pushed for a fourth. With fifteen minutes to go, Alan Reeves gave time to Jamil Awoyejo and Great Nii Okai Evans, as the Dons first and third goal scorers came off.
Nik Tzanev was rarely called into action in the second-half, but Sam Hendy pulled one back with five minutes to go as the Dons were denied the clean sheet. The damage had been done long before though and Wimbledon were worthy winners.
AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev Sibbick Urhoghide Nelson-Roberts (Ashley) Nightingale Collins Kaja Egan Pingling (Evans) Carpene (Awoyejo) and Shango.