It was far from a glorious return to Kingfield for the Dons tonight as hosts Woking deservedly lifted the Phil Ledger Memorial Cup.
A crowd of 1,005 spectators watched Conference new boys Woking upset Terry Brown's men and the Wimbledon boss admitted afterwards that his side's defending was poor. It may only be pre-season, but Terry admitted his side have to do better as both goals were conceded from crosses that they failed to deal with.
He said: "I would have expected us to have done better than that. Our pressing and defending, particularly in the first-half, was poor."
The opening exchanges hinted that this was going to be much tougher for Wimbledon than their last visit here two years ago when Danny Kedwell struck all four goals to earn a 4-0 win in the Phil Ledger Memorial Cup. Blue Square South Champions Woking are gearing up for a return to the non league's top-flight and manager Gary Hill appears to have strengthened with several useful acquisitions, including former Wimbledon defender Brett Johnson, who started on the night.
Wimbledon created a half chance in the 15th minute when trialist Aaron Racini headed wide from a Sammy Moore corner, but the hosts started the strongest. Woking were rewarded for a bright start with the lead a couple of minutes later. Kevin Betsy broke free down the left and sent over a teasing cross that found its way to Bradley Bubb at the back post and his drive looped over Seb Brown and into the top corner. That did produce a response from the visitors though and Sammy Moore showed just why Terry Brown has pushed him into a more attacking midfield role with a volley from outside the area that struck a post. A dashing run from Curtis Osano down the right flank then led to Luke Moore being fouled outside the area and Louis Harris curled the subsequent free-kick just wide.
The visitors looked vulnerable though when crosses were sent into the box and they were almost 2-0 down on the half hour when Lee Sawyer rose highest in the box to meet a Bubb free-kick, but his header bounced off a post. Though Wimbledon’s approach play promised so much with Osano’s pacy runs down the right catching the eye, they struggled to find the cutting edge. A clever free-kick from Louis Harris presented Luke Moore with a good shooting chance, but he fired high and wide and that summed up the first-half for Terry Brown’s men.
Terry made just one change at the break with Brendan Kiernan replacing Frankie Merrifield. The Dons started the second-half in determined mood to turn things around and it was Kiernan who came closest to making an impression when he burst past two challenges to set-up a shooting chance, but he struck just over the bar from 20 yards. Jack Midson tried to find the key to the door all by himself when he cut in from the right and cracked a shot from 30 yards, but his effort was just too high.
However, the Dons paid the price for failing to defend another set-piece in the 72nd minute when Joe McNerney headed home a Jesse Waller-Lassen corner. It almost got worse a couple of minutes later when Waller-Lassen put Giuseppe Sole clean through, but Seb Brown produced a superb point-blank save.
The Dons were handed a lifeline 10 minutes from time when referee Steve Daly adjudged that Betsy had brought down Kiernan in the box and Midson’s subsequent penalty just about found the corner via Aaron Howe’s hand. A potential fightback was almost short-lived though as the visitors again had Seb Brown to thank for keeping them in it as he got down well to deny Waller-Lassen. Though the visitors pressed near the end, there was no denying Woking on the night as they held on fairly comfortably.
AFC Wimbledon: Seb Brown, Curtis Osano, Aaron Racini, (Mat Mitchel-King) Pim Balkestein (Dan Sweeney), Jim Fenlon, Frankie Merrifield (Brendan Kiernan), Louis Harris, Luke Moore, Sammy Moore, Christian Jolley, Jack Midson.