AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley needs to find right fix for Fleetwood after final friendly action

Tennai Watson, pictured in action against Brighton earlier this month, provided support from full-back

Boreham Wood 0 

AFC Wimbledon 0

By Laurence Lowne at Meadow Park

The mantra from managers in pre-season is It is all about getting minutes into players – and AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley certainly took that to the limit.

The Dons chief split his first-team squad for matches at Havant & Waterlooville on Friday and then Saturday’s friendly at Boreham Wood FC.

Both clubs have connections with AFC Wimbledon. Former Wimbledon players at Havant include Paul Robinson and Ed Harris.

The Wood also have Dons connections in the shape of manager Luke Garrard, with Connor Smith and Femi Ilesami part of his playing squad.

What added extra spice is that striker Morgan Ferrier – the subject of a Wimbledon bid in this summer window – started for the National League outfit..

Garrard reckoned that Ferrier would be “fired up” for the visit of their South Londoners. He added: “There is the opportunity to impress a potential new employer.”

He could have added Dons supporters to the statement as well.

If anything, Ferrier tried too hard and was closely marked by Deji Oshilaja and Paul Kalambayi and only had a sniff or two.

While most eyes were on Ferrier, it was Sorba Thomas, 18, who impressed and perhaps moves himself onto Wimbledon’s transfer radar.

Ardley gave a run out to Tyler Garratt, on trial from Doncaster. The left-back did not put a foot wrong.

It was a match dominated by wind – the first 45 minutes was entertaining with numerous openings, while the second period offered little for either side to exploit, although Boreham Wood went close twice to breaking the deadlock.

Mitch Pinnock continued to impress for Wimbledon and not only made a number of runs, but delivered many crosses and took all dead ball kicks around the penalty box. His accuracy makes him effective in that role.

In the second minute, wide-right midfielder Scott Wagstaff skipped past The Wood defence and pinged in a cross, that fell nicely for Pinnock, whose shot was blocked and went to a corner

Three minutes later and the ever busy Wagstaff latched onto a loose ball for the Dons some 20 yards out and former Arsenal goalkeeper Ryan Huddart did well to save for The Wood.

Dons keeper Joe McDonnell, having just saved from Ilesami, quickly cleared his lines to find Pinnock, he pinged in an accurate cross which landed at the far post – James Hanson could not quite get his foot around the ball and his shot went narrowly wide.

Boreham Wood came back into the game and had a couple of good chances.

Ferrier set up Angelo Balanta on the edge of box, but Anthony Wordsworth blocked. Then a few minutes later, Thomas picked up a loose ball and advanced on goal. Having weighed up his options, he decided a shot was best and curled in a lovely one, which just scooted past the post with McDonnell scrambling across.

Wimbledon established control again as Kwesi Appiah had a shot from distance, which sailed over.

Wordsworth had all the time in the world from a Pinnock corner, but tamely headed at the keeper. He shook his head in disbelief.

A few minutes later a fine strike by Wagstaff was turned away by Huddart. The resultant corner found Wordsworth and this time his venomous shot from 26 yards was blocked by a myriad of bodies.

What was evident in the first half was the willingness of players to shoot from distance.

Dons full-backs Tennai Watson and Garratt were supportive going forward, centre halves Kalambayi and Oshilaja kept things tidy and in front of them while Liam Trotter provided an outlet for simple passes.

Pinnock and Wagstaff look a right handful for any defence, and Wordsworth appears to be a great box-to-box player. Hanson and Appiah were pulling defenders apart to create the space for shots from distance.

McDonnell’s distribution was good.

The second half was nothing to write about. Let’s just mention that Ferrier was subbed off and Boreham Wood looked a better side without him.

Ardley talked about learning more about his players following the 4-1 defeat against Havant. The draw at Boreham Wood showed those players were working to clear instructions.

Now Ardley has to take the best from the Havant and Boreham Wood games and merge them into a fully functioning team at Fleetwood Town on Saturday.

AFC Wimbledon: McDonnell, Watson, Kalambayi, Oshilaja, Garratt, Wordsworth. Trotter, Pinnock, Wagstaff, Appiah, Hanson.

PICTURE BY PAUL EDWARDS


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