Wimbledon manager Terry Brown was left disappointed with an injury to new striker Mark Nwokeji, but could also see some encouraging cameos from his other new additions as the Dons build-up to the full-time era got under way with a victory over League One visitors Charlton Athletic in scorching conditions.
In a seemingly innocuous incident midway through the second half, the former Dagenham & Redbridge forward turned awkwardly and fell, and after several minutes of treatment he was stretchered from the field. At this stage of the season it’s all about the preparation before the real thing kicks off, and any sort of injury is unwelcome.
The Dons needed to get down to playing together as a new group of players and mastering not only 4-3-3, but also plan B and plan C – an essential requirement, having run out of steam in their debut season in the Blue Square Premier. But this afternoon was also about looking at several trialists.
Most important was that everyone got a run-out, and with that in mind the squad was split into two so that all the players had 45 minutes of game time. For the first half, Jack Turner kept goal behind a back four of, from the right, Ryan Jackson, trialist Fraser Franks, who performed well, Brett Johnson and trialist Michael Noone. Steven Gregory sat just in front, and had South Korean trialist Tae Hun Kim and new signing Rashid Yussuff for company in midfield. Kim displayed some useful long-range passing skills in his brief outing.
The front line looked much more familiar: captain Danny Kedwell had Luke Moore to his right and a fully fit again Jon Main to his left, in a three-pronged attack. It was Main who had the Dons’ first real opportunities. First he raced in and shot over the crossbar, and a minute later he was set away by Kim and found himself in an almost identical situation. This time Main was denied by Charlton’s Grant Basey, who acrobatically cleared off the line.
Just before the half-hour, Franks and Kedwell combined well, Moore picked up the ball in midfield and his shot from outside the box flew just wide with the Charlton keeper at full stretch. Moore rolled the ball into the net a few minutes later, but offside had already been given. Charlton’s best chance of the half came courtesy of Turner seven minutes from the break, but while he flapped the dependable Johnson saved the youngster’s blushes on the line. Just before the whistle, Addicks new boy Alan McCormack shot low and wide from distance.
For the second half, Seb Brown took over in goal. Sam Hatton played at right-back, and Ismail Yakubu looked every inch the authoritative centre-back his new manager has signed him as, alongside the on-trial Ed Harris with Andre Blackman as left-back. Lee Minshull has the potential to become a fans’ favourite in a hard midfield role. Two more trialists featured in midfield, Dover’s Sam Moore and Welsh youngster Reece Jones. Up front, trialist Javon Molley linked up with new signings Nwokeji and more talent on the left in fellow new boy Christian Jolley.
Charlton also made changes, giving the Kingsmeadow crowd the chance to look at giant centre-back Yado Mambo and Alex Stavrinou, both linked with loan moves to Wimbledon for the coming season. Sam Moore showed that he could be a useful alternative for the midfield position. It was the visitors who were quickest off the mark in the second period, with a bullet header going just wide of Brown’s upright, but on 49 minutes Wimbledon took the lead. Charlton failed to deal with a free kick when the ball was floated into the box, and Javon Molley was on hand to poke the ball over the line.
A minute later a Minshull header bounced off the visitor’s crossbar at the Tempest End. Soon after came Nwokeji’s injury; while he was receiving treatment the players sensibly took on more liquids, and Charlton sent on Ross Ketteridge for Rob Elliot in goal. Nwokeji’s departure created a chance for another trialist. Adam Martin, who’d played the previous night at Sandhurst.
Eight minutes from the end Wimbledon put the result beyond doubt. Blackman showed a glimpse of why Terry Brown was willing to take a chance on him. He broke with pace impressively on the left wing, and while Charlton’s defensive line concentrated on bringing Blackman to a halt, they presented Minshull with the opportunity to open his account.
This was a satisfactory start to pre-season, with good performances from contracted players and trialists alike, giving Terry Brown some interesting choices to make.
Wimbledon (first half): Turner, Jackson, Noone, Franks, Johnson; Moore, Hun Kim, Gregory, Yussuff, Kedwell, Main.
Wimbledon (second half): Brown, Hatton, S Moore, Yakubu, Harris, Blackman (Noone 89), Jones, Minshull, Nwokeji (Martin 67), Jolley, Molley.
Charlton (first half): Elliot; Solly, Basey, Jenkinson, Llera; Sawyer, McCormack, Semedo; Esajas, Bauza, Thorvaldsson.
Charlton (second half): Elliot (Kitteridge 67), Mulley, Basey (Carter 67), Mambo, Cousins; Wagstaff, Racon, Stavrinou, Davisson; Perkins, Tuna.
Goals: Molloy 50, Minshull 82
Referee: L Collins