We started off our League Two campaign in the perfect way today with opponents Gillingham brushed aside in style.
The high standards were set in the first-half when Ethan Chislett crashed home a sensational half-volley to lift the roof off the Cherry Red Records Stadium and from that point onwards the Dons showed the qualities of a team that was determined to prove a point.
An expectant crowd was treated to a performance that showed we can hold our own when our backs are against the wall, before striking at the right moments, as Jack Currie proved in the second period.
Our swashbuckling Academy graduate dominated the left-hand side for much of the 90 minutes and his shift was rewarded in the best way possible as he bagged his first senior goal with a thumping header from Will Nightingale’s cross.
In addition to our offensive qualities, our defensive line showed great resilience to see off the aerial threat of Gillingham, with Nik Tzanev showing his competence between the sticks. It capped a promising showing from the team as a whole and got the Johnnie Jackson era off to a dream start in front of a packed-out crowd.
The gaffer stuck with the same starting eleven which began our last pre-season friendly against Oxford United, with the likes of Chris Gunter, Alex Pearce, Currie, Paris Maghoma and Josh Davison all making their league debuts for the Dons. Meanwhile, new signings Nathan Young-Coombes and Kyle Hudlin were named on the bench.
Plough Lane came to life in the lead up to kick-off with Wimbledon fans packing the familiar yellow and blue stands to the rafters.
It was a feisty opening quarter to the game that greeted the raucous crowd, with the battle for possession largely taking place in midfield.
However, it soon settled down and a deserved lead soon followed for the Dons.
A corner was only half cleared by Gillingham, with Chislett receiving the ball on the edge of the box. The midfielder took the slightest of touches before rifling in a fizzing half volley into the top corner which left Glenn Morris with absolutely no chance.
The visitors looked threatening from set pieces, but our back three dealt with everything that was thrown at them despite being under pressure for short periods.
Wimbledon were still creating openings with Gunter being next to go close as he forced Morris into a smart save low down to his right.
The good spell continued for Jackson’s side with Ayoub Assal heading straight at the keeper after a delivery from the right.
Moving into the second-half and it was the Gills who came close to an equaliser early on as a delivery from the left flank was directed just wide of Tzanev’s far post. The Kiwi then had to stay alert to adjust his body to deal with a curling free-kick.
The game then began to swing in our favour and before long it was 2-0. Nightingale volleyed a hopeful ball into the box before Currie stormed in to head home, sending the Cherry Red Records Stadium into raptures.
That finished the game off as a contest and got the Johnnie Jackson era off to the perfect start!
AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Chris Gunter, Will Nightingale, Alex Pearce, Lee Brown, Jack Currie, George Marsh, Paris Maghoma, Ethan Chislett (Alfie Bendle), Josh Davison (Kyle Hudlin), Ayoub Assal (Nathan Young-Coombes)
PICS: Ian Stephen (Pro Sports Images)