James Hanson stepped up his match fitness after injury by completing 45 minutes for our development squad against Oxford United this afternoon.
Hanson improved his fitness after injury by featuring for a half at Merstham, the experienced striker having made his comeback as a late substitute against Charlton on Saturday. Andy Barcham also played for 70 minutes and Tom Soares completed the full 90.
Tyler Burey netted twice in the 3-1 friendly win at Merstham, The Dons coming from behind after a first-half strike from Oxford’s Dejon Noel-Williams. Hanson showed his ability in the air in the first-half, before being withdrawn at half-time, which had always been the plan.
Following a few stern words from coach Alan Reeves at half-time, Wimbledon produced a second-half display that was in stark contrast to the first with Burey’s impressive solo goal putting the icing on the cake.
On a bone-dry pitch at Merstham due to the recent hot spell, Barcham showed his wing skills early on with a dashing run down the left, but his cross was too close to the keeper. Burey showed his qualities from the outset on the other flank, but The Dons found chances hard to come by in the early exchanges. Tom Soares put a lovely cross over from the right, but no one was able get on the end of it. Paul Osew, who was making his first start for the development squad after stepping up from the Under-18s, produced a fine run down the left, before cutting inside, but his shot was off target. Under-18 defender Reuben Collins also started the game and his academy team-mate Archie Proctor featured in the second-half.
Despite having had little of the ball in the first half an hour, Oxford earned the lead in the 32nd minute through Dejon Noel-Williams, who finished clinically from just inside the box after the initial shot on goal had been blocked. Wimbledon responded by coming close to an equaliser with Osaze Urhoghide having a shot on goal, but it was well saved by the Oxford keeper. Hanson then provided a demonstration of his aerial ability by rising highest to meet a cross, but Urhoghide was just unable to make the most of the striker’s knock down.
As we approached half-time, Joe McDonnell was forced to make a fine save to stop Oxford doubling the advantage. Though Wimbledon had enjoyed the majority of possession, there had not been a clear-cut chance for the hosts in the first-half. Alan Reeves made changes at half-time with Tommy Wood replacing Hanson up front and Procter on for Urhoghide.
The second-half started with The Dons showing more attacking threat. Barcham produced a couple of his trademark runs down the left and Jack Rudoni sent over a lovely cross, but no one was able to get on the end of it. Wimbledon’s second-half improvement was rewarded with the equaliser on the hour through Burey, who sent the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot after a foul in the box. Tommy Wood, who has been on loan at Slough Town in recent weeks, added energy to the Wimbledon attack.
Alan Reeves made three changes with 20 minutes to go. Barcham was withdrawn after a decent run-out with Kane Crichlow replacing him and Alfie Egan came on for Jack Rudoni. The other change involved another chance for Urhoghide, who replaced Reuben Collins. With 12 minutes to play, Wimbledon earned a second goal. Osew produced another one of his impressive long throw-ins and Wimbledon’s trialist did really well to beat the keeper to it and head home. The best was still to come though from a Wimbledon perspective when Burey produced a fantastic individual run, before finishing superbly.
It had been a much-improved second-half display from Wimbledon. With first-teamers shaking off rustiness and young players from the Under-18s gaining valuable experience, it was a more than useful exercise.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Kyron Stabana, Reuben Collins (Osaze Urhoghide), Osaze Urhoghide (Archie Procter), Paul Osew, Tyler Burey, Tom Soares, Jack Rudoni (Alfie Egan), Andy Barcham (Kane Crichlow), trialist, James Hanson.