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Saturday 28 July 2012
Friendly - Senior

Eastbourne Borough    0 - 0    AFC Wimbledon

Match report

Wimbledon drew a blank against Conference South opposition, but boss Terry Brown was left more frustrated at injuries to Byron Harrison and Frankie Merrifield.

The Dons' fifth match of pre-season put more game time into a youthful squad, but it did not achieve too much else as the visitors still search to become a more cohesive unit before the Capital One Cup match at Stevenage on 14 August. Terry's plans were hampered by injuries in each half, initially to forward Harrison, who trudged off with an ankle knock before the break.

There was a boost to the starting line-up though in midfield with Stacy Long having shaken off a hamstring strain and youngster Huw Johnson making his first pre-season start. Terry and the coaching staff also took the opportunity to look at former Leyton Orient keeper Yilmaz Aksoy for the full 90 minutes as Seb Brown took a place on a strong-looking bench. There was also a steely, first-choice defensive partnership of Mat Mitchel-King and Pim Balkestein, while Charlie Strutton and Brendan Kiernan offered menacing support to Harrison, and then replacement Jack Midson, up front.

There were chances for both sides inside a lively opening 15 minutes. In the third minute, Kiernan closed in on Borough keeper Danny Potter and his low shot forced a save. A minute later, Strutton headed down on goal, but the ball ended up over the crossbar. There was a warning from the hosts at the other end though as Aksoy had to get down to collect an effort from Chris Morgan. Wimbledon’s best effort on goal came on 16 minutes when Kiernan saw his effort come off the inside of the upright, leaving a static Potter to gratefully receive the rebound safely back into his arms. A minute later Harrison was forced off after an ankle injury sustained in training flared up. The Dons had a let-off after 28 minutes when Aksoy and Balkestein were not on the same wavelength and Toby Ajala almost got in for the opener. The visitors gradually imposed themselves more on the game as the half wore on, but it remained goalless at the interval.

Youngsters Dan Sweeney and Harry Wise were both handed a chance at half-time as Terry decided to mix it up a bit during the second-half. However, The Dons were were unable to press on after the break as Borough boss Tommy Widdrington urged his side to impose themselves when they had possession.

Louis Harris replaced the stricken Merrifield on 54 minutes and just short of the hour mark saw the introduction of Sammy and Luke Moore and Christian Jolley. However, that failed to result in much change as Wimbledon continued to struggle to find a cutting edge. With 23 minutes remaining, the visitors did finally force Potter into more action when he had to get down low to block a diving header from Midson. Eastbourne substitute Matt Turpin tried to make an immediate impact shortly after coming on by flashing a shot across Aksoy’s goal and Potter kept out Sammy Moore after Luke Moore had provided a cross.

There was little threat of the stalemate being broken in the latter stages and the Dons know that better retention of the ball will be required for the visit of Preston North End on Tuesday night. That test should give all concerned a much clearer idea of where the Dons are with their preparations as the new Football League season begins to loom large.

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