The Dons were handed a tough pre-season lesson tonight just two weeks before the Capital One Cup opener at Stevenage.
Terry Brown’s men came up against a rampant Preston side on the night and the Dons know that they will have to do better against League 1 opposition at Broadhall Way in our competitive opener. It did not help Wimbledon’s cause that the visitors fielded players determined to be a part of Graham Westley’s Preston revolution with trialist Akpo Sodje netting twice and Joel Byrom also striking a double on the night.
Terry Brown selected an 11 that could well start at Broadhall Way, barring injuries, and the hosts clicked into gear early on. Jose Moreira was tested in just the fifth minute when Luke Moore set-up a shooting chance for Stacy Long, but the Preston goalkeeper got down well to save. However, pressure from the hosts was short-lived and Preston grabbed the lead in the 11th minute when Jeffrey Monakana crossed from the right and an unmarked Joel Byrom slotted home. The visitors took advantage of more slack Dons defending when Pim Balkestein only half cleared a Byrom free-kick and Akpo Sodje nodded into the unguarded net. Terry Brown’s men were struggling to contain the rampant visitors, in particular the pacy surges of former Arsenal trainee Monakana.
There was a reprieve for the Dons in the 21st minute though when Moreira failed to hold a powerful Sammy Moore free-kick and Christian Jolley was in the right place to slot home the rebound. That failed to alter the pattern of the match as Preston continued to pour forward and Sodje headed home at the second attempt after Wimbledon failed to deal with a Nicky Wroe corner. The Dons did recover their composure though after that further blow and they came close to getting back into it when Mat Mitchel-King volleyed just over after a flick on from Balkestein. The hosts had their most promising spell just before half-time as they started to spray the ball around effectively. One flowing move ended with Midson sending through a clever ball that Long came close to getting on the end of.
Terry Brown made two changes at the break with on-loan Reading centre-back Angus MacDonald introduced for the first time at the Cherry Red Records Stadium in place of Mitchel-King and Jim Fenlon replacing Warren Cummings. The Dons were left stunned again though seven minutes after the break when Sam Winnall broke free down the left and crossed for Byrom to strike his second with an emphatic first-time finish. Terry Brown mixed it up a bit just after the hour with former Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper Steve Collis handed a chance between the sticks and youngsters Frankie Merrifield and Brendan Kiernan both entering the fray.
Substitutions made by both sides disrupted what had been an above average pre-season friendly in terms of entertainment value during the first-half. The hosts did at least steady the ship after that fourth goal and MacDonald could well be an assured recruit at the back. At the other end, Wimbledon came close to a consolation when Moreira got down well to save from Kiernan. However, that may have flattered Wimbledon on the night and Terry Brown will know that his side has plenty of room for improvement when the real action starts in two weeks.
AFC Wimbledon: Seb Brown (Steve Collis), Curtis Osano, Warren Cummings (Jim Fenlon), Louis Harris (Frankie Merrifield), Pim Balkestein, Mat Mitchel-King (Angus MacDonald), Stacy Long (Brendan Kiernan), Sammy Moore, Jack Midson (Charlie Strutton), Christian Jolley, Luke Moore.