Woking 1 AFC Wimbledon 3
Laurence Lowne reports from the Laithwaite Community Stadium
Pre-season is about bedding in new players, checking the fitness of those returning and perhaps catching up with friends?
The World Cup in Russia has somewhat changed that metric this summer and much discussion has been about how England players have re-built their relationship with supporters.
After a year of struggle maybe that could be required for Wimbledon players too, that would overlook an unbeaten end to the season, which saw Joe Pigott weigh in with very important goals?
Neal Ardley at the Meet the Manager last week confirmed there would be an evolution in style, and on a steaming hot day last Saturday Reading were dispatched by a 4-2 scoreline as both experienced and younger elements of the squad were put through their paces with a 60-30 minute split in pitch time.
The same split was used for the Guiseppe Sole appreciation match, who featured for 10 minutes either end of the game and narrowly missed scoring from a free-kick. Just shy of 700 supporters attended on a warm evening and were duly entertained by both sides.
The first 60 minutes saw Wimbledon sweep forward with confidence and style and with just three minutes on the clock were 1-0 up.
New signing Mitch Pinnock swung in a corner and Deji Oshilaja at the far post headed home.
Domination continued apace and within five minutes another compelling move saw a cross from captain for the night Jon Meades for Kwesi Appiah to head narrowly over.
Then a suicidal back pass saw an indirect free-kick awarded on the angle of the six-yard box after the ball was picked up by the keeper.
With three Dons players standing over the ball, a simple tap back to Pinnock by Appiah, saw the former lash home from 15 yards out to make it 2-0 in the 14th minute.
Rather surprisingly supporters had to wait until the 42nd minute for Wimbledon’s third goal.
Another corner, this time half-cleared, returned by the very-involved Appiah, which was cleared again and fell nicely to Andy Barcham, who whipped in a low cross and saw Meades get the final touch to make it 3-0.
Between the second and third goal you saw young right-back Toby Sibbick venture forward and give support to the forwards, whilst Joe Pigott, who has bulked up over the summer, simply dominate in the air. With both Pinnock and Barcham supplying crosses, goals seem very likely indeed.
The second-half saw wholesale changes and the younger players once again caught the eye.
Pacey wide man Tyler Burey showed his confidence and he was well supported by debutant Tennai Watson on the right, who had signed on loan from Reading earlier in the day.
Up front Tommy Wood and Egli Kaja showed a growing understanding, while at the back centre-halves Paul Kalambayi and Oassama Ashley not only read the game well, but demonstrated the ability to bring the ball out from the back. Shades of England perhaps?
Nesset Belliki filled in at left-back, whilst Kosta Sparta and 17-year-old Kane Crichlow made things happen in midfield alongside the experienced Alfie Egan.
In goal saw new international Nick Tzanev, who while conceding very late on against the run of play as Paul Hodges slid one into the net for Woking, had little to do.
Post-match Neal Ardley confirmed there were more signings on the horizon and two more players duly signed – namely Anthony Wordsworth from Southend United and Scott Wagstaff from Gillingham. Both have scored goals consistently from midfield. Supporters will recognise them immediately with their beards giving a buccaneering appearance to midfield.
Tomorrow is both the Beer Festival and another pre-season friendly, with QPR the visitors to Kingsmeadow.
Wimbledon – first 60 minutes: King, Sibbick, Meades, Nightingale, Oshilaja, Soares, Trotter, Pinnock, Barcham, Pigott, Appiah.
Wimbledon – final 30 minutes: Tzanev, Watson, Kaja, Wood, Belliki, Sparta, Kalambayi, Crichlow, Ashley, Burey, Egan.
PHOTO BY KEITH GILLARD
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.