Wimbledon manager Terry Brown was given plenty of food for thought when the Dons’ third pre-season outing to Gander Green Lane to play last season’s Ryman Premier champions Sutton United ended in a draw.
The Dons came up against a tough and experienced outfit, and even though this was their first friendly of the summer, by full time they had asked many asked questions of Brown’s men. Keeper Seb Brown had recovered for his first pre-season action, and he was joined by a first-choice back division of Sam Hatton, captain Jamie Stuart, Brett Johnson and Gareth Gwillim. Luke Moore returned to the starting line-up in support of Charles Ademeno and Christian Jolley in the front line.
The visitors took only eight minutes to find the back of the net. After Sutton forward Craig Dundas had forced a blocked save from the legs of Brown, at the other end Rashid Yussuff was brought down on the edge of the box, leaving Moore to confidently direct the spot-kick past Sutton keeper Wayne Shaw. But unlike Staines the Tuesday before, this Blue Square South opposition were determined to keep Wimbledon in their sights.
After quarter of an hour the Dons former midfielder Tom Davis looked for a penalty after closing in on Brown’s goal, and Leroy Griffiths went just wide shortly after. Ademeno’s fitness was a plus point of the afternoon, and after carving out a chance on the left his effort struck a post on 38 minutes. Just before the break Gwillim also hit a post from the left after good build-up play.
For the second half, trialist Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz took over in goal while Johnson donned the skipper’s armband again. Wimbledon came under pressure, and on 55 minutes Sutton had their equaliser when prospect Tommy Kavanagh curled home an unstoppable free-kick from 25 yards. Substitute Lee Minshull let in another Sutton replacement, Romone McCree, whose effort was thwarted by Jaimez-Ruiz with just under 20 minutes left.
Griffiths made a hasty departure after an incident that left Minshull down in the area with a quarter of an hour to go, and later the referee felt the need to have words with Jolley over a challenge. With minutes left, substitute Chris Bush tried to win it from range but the scoreline remained 1-1 at the end.
AFC Wimbledon: Brown, Hatton, Gwillim, Porter, Stuart, Johnson, Wellard, Yussuff, Moore L, Ademeno, Jolley
Subs: Jaimez-Ruiz, Jackson, Bush, Minshull, Jones, Moore S, Mulley, Midson
Moore L 8
Sutton United: Shaw, Downer, Bray, Kavanagh, El Salahi, Page, Riviere, Davis, Dundas, Griffiths, Taggart
Subs: Porter, Jenkins, Murray, McCree, Watkins, Orilonishe, McKimm, Conroy