The Dons saw our Bristol Street Motors Trophy Southern Group C fixtures end with a loss as Wycombe Wanderers emerged as 1-0 winners.
Following a first-half that featured little action other than Josh Davison’s penalty being saved, the second-half was far brighter with Wimbledon creating good openings.
However our much-changed side couldn’t find the decisive touch required as we sought to get a win that would see us top the group.
A spell of good pressure in the closing stages failed to result in the goal we required, with Wycombe striking with a sucker punch through Kieran Sadlier’s goal which proved decisive.
Nevertheless there was one standout positive for as 15-year-old Academy graduate Justin Clarke made his senior debut off the bench, showing once again that the future is bright for the Dons.
Johnnie Jackson made multiple changes to the side which beat Doncaster Rovers 2-0 last time out, with Nik Tzanev, Lee Brown, Davison, Josh Neufville, James Ball, Charlie Lakin, Aron Sasu and Paul Kalambayi all coming in to start.
Meanwhile there was a youthful look to our bench, with Kai Jennings, Junior Nkeng and Clarke being handed chances to impress following their exploits in the FA Youth Cup with our Under-18s.
There was also a familiar face in the opposing line-up, with former Don Lyle Taylor making his debut for the Chairboys, having signed for the club earlier this week.
Tzanev was forced into action within the first minute as he did well to repel an effort from distance which skimmed up off the wet surface. Our backline had to withstand further early pressure with Alex Pearce being at his dominant best to repel a series of aerial deliveries.
After a quiet opening half an hour Wimbledon had a golden opportunity to take the lead when referee Aji Ajibola pointed to the penalty spot for an adjudged handball. Davison was the man to step up for the Dons, however he saw his spotkick well saved by Franco Ravizzoli.
Pearce was then called into action again as he made a goal-saving challenge with the Chairboys seemingly clean through. Tzanev also made light work of a Jack Grimmer effort after the opposing defender had strode out with the ball. A quiet first-half left the game very much up for the taking moving into the second 45 minutes.
There was a chance for Ryan Johnson to build up his minutes as he replaced Pearce at the break, taking his place at the heart of the defence alongside Kalambayi.
David Wheeler came mightily close to giving the hosts the lead as he met a low cross, thankfully Tzanev was in inspired form as he manged to scoop the effort away. Up the other end Neufville was causing problems as he sped past three challenges to win a corner.
Sasu was also looking to take the game by the scruff of the neck as his mazey run resulted in Lakin seeing a shot well blocked on the edge of the area.
The build up play was good from Wimbledon but Wycombe were proving to be a tough nut to crack as we moved into the final 20 minutes. In an attempt to add something different into the mix Jennings was brought on for the closing stages.
It was the hosts who found the breakthrough however, with Kieran Sadlier flicking home from close range via the help of a slight deflection.
Shortly afterwards Nkeng was given another taste of first-team action, whilst Clarke was handed his professional debut, with the duo replacing Neufville and Davison.
Jennings came extremely close to bagging his first senior goal as he saw a deflected volley scooped over the crossbar by the wrong-footed Ravizzoli. There was almost an astonishing ending to the game as Tzanev nearly connected with a late corner after being thrown forward at the death.
However he failed to make adequate contact, meaning it was the Chairboys who took the victory and topped the group, with the Dons having also sealed their progress to the knockout stages earlier in the month.
AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Huseyin Biler, Lee Brown, Josh Davison (Justin Clarke), Josh Neufville (Junior Nkeng), Alex Pearce (Ryan Johnson), James Ball (Kai Jennings), Omar Bugiel, Charlie Lakin, Aron Sasu, Paul Kalambayi
Attendance: 664 (159 away)
PICS: Stephen Flynn (Pro Sports Images)