First-teamers Will Nightingale, Jaakko Oksanen, Anthony Hartigan, and Cheye Alexander all played the full 90 minutes in a friendly match against a Chelsea XI.
Held at Chelsea's training ground at Cobham, the match ended 1-1 after a second-half that was very impressive from a Wimbledon perspective with youngsters Husyein Biler, Zach Robinson, and Archie Procter all catching the eye.
Wimbledon's starting 11 included a mixture of first-team players that were on the bench at Northampton and Under-23s. Dan Csoka played his first 45 minutes since signing for the Dons, as he featured in a defence that included Will Nightingale, and Jaakko Oksanen also had his first run-out since returning from international duty with Finland Under-21s. Adam Roscrow led the line for Wimbledon, the pacy forward getting more minutes under his belt after his recent goal in the EFL Trophy. The Chelsea side was also a mix of youth and experience with Danny Drinkwater and Victor Moses as the most well-known senior players.
With first-team coach Mark Robinson taking the team for this game, Wimbledon made a bright start and earned the lead in the 18th minute through a headed goal by a trialist. The hosts hit back with Moses causing problems down the right. Moses, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Inter Milan, struck the equaliser from the penalty spot five minutes later. Chelsea had their best spell midway through the first-half and Matthew Cox was called into action, the England Under-17s keeper making two fine saves to keep them out. At the other end, Wimbledon produced a fine move down the left with Ayoub Assal and Osew combining to set-up Anthony Hartigan, who shot over the crossbar.
Hartigan, who impressed with his passing on the day, then picked out Cheye Alexander, on the right and his shot flashed into the side netting. It was a very interesting first-half with both sides showing plenty of spirit in a competitive friendly match.
Wimbledon came out in the second-half and really took the game to Chelsea. Hartigan popped up on the left flank and cut inside, before curling just wide of the far post. Then a lovely move down the left ended with Osew sending over a fine cross from the left that Zach Robinson did well to control and his powerful shot flashed wide. With the Dons taking a grip on this game, Matthew Cox was nowhere near as busy in the second-half.
Osew put over a lovely cross to the back post that picked out Cheye Alexander, but his volley struck the side netting. Osew, who had been superb in the second-half, also had a shot saved, before he was withdrawn due to an injury knock with Huseyin Biler entering the fray. Robinson looked sharp after returning from injury and he came so close again when he headed just wide after Jaakko Oksanen had flicked on the corner.
In a second-half dominated by Wimbledon, substitute Huseyin Biler produced a very encouraging cameo, which included a lovely cross that David Fisher came so close to diverting into the net. The Dons also came close to winning it in the latter stages when Fisher had a shot well saved by the keeper. Though a winning goal didn't quite materialise, it was certainly a worthwhile exercise for Wimbledon with first-teamers getting valuable game-time and young professionals showing promise for the future.
AFC Wimbledon: Matthew Cox, Archie Procter, Dan Csoka (Jack Currie), Paul Osew (Huseyin Biler), Jaakko Oksanen, Cheye Alexander, Anthony Hartigan, Will Nightingale (Jack Madelin), Ayoub Assal (Elliott Bolton), Adam Roscrow (David Fisher), trialist (Zach Robinson).