Close-season update from Nigel Pearson
Posted: Saturday, June 12th 2021
Tuesday, July 9th 2019
Famara Diédhiou showed his awareness in front of goal to help City beat AFC Wimbledon before their pre-season tour to Florida.
Adam Webster headed City into a half-time lead, before a quickfire second-half double from Diédhiou put the visitors in control at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Jojo Wollacott pulled of a string of saves during an impressive display but City survived a scare when the Dons converted two consecutive penalties.
Scoreline aside, the match was another chance for Lee Johnson’s side to get up to match fitness, with preparations now set to continue in the USA.
Starting XI: Gilmartin, Hunt, Kalas, Webster, Rowe, Paterson, Bakinson, Pack, Eliasson, Semenyo, Weimann.
Andreas Weimann was back on the pitch days after his hat-trick in the community fixture at Hallen, while recent signings Rene Gilmartin and Tommy Rowe started once again.
Despite little action early doors, there were calls for a Dons penalty when Mitch Pinnock and Tomas Kalas collided but the referee was far from interested in the appeals from the stands. The Wimbledon number 11 got himself on the end of a long, sweeping free kick but ultimately his touch wasn’t good enough, allowing City’s defender to out-muscle his opponent.
Both sides wasted chances, notably Kyron Stabana who fired over Gilmartin’s crossbar before Paterson cut inside and saw the top corner, only to send his shot over.
The deadlock was broken just after half an hour when Webster rose highest to nod City in front. Niclas Eliasson’s corner was inch perfect for the central defender and his downward header had the beating of Nik Tzanev in the Dons goal.
Hunt came close to making it 2-0, Eliasson again the architect showing skill before whipping a curling cross towards the back stick, where his defensive teammate couldn’t steer the ball the correct side of the post.
But the home side weren’t without their moments and only a strong recovering clearance from Kalas prevented a threatening-looking cross, before Nesta Guinness-Walker showed off his skills until he dragged a shot wide of Gilmartin’s near post.
And Zak Vyner, on as one of a handful of changes before the break, did force Tzanev into a low stop shortly before the half-time whistle.
Second half starting XI: Wollacott, Moore, Wright, Baker, Vyner, Walsh, Brownhill, O’Dowda, Szmodics, Diédhiou, Taylor.
Johnson opted for a back five with attacking wing-backs for the second period and it didn’t take long for his side to double their lead soon after the restart. Their second goal came courtesy of a fine low strike from substitute Diédhiou, while at the other end Wollacott pulled off a diving fingertip save to keep out a Pinnock strike.
But City were quick up the other end and Diédhiou grabbed his second goal in as many minutes as he slid to meet Vyner’s cross and tuck the ball beyond Tzanev.
At 3-0 City were in control with an energetic midfield in Sammie Szmodics, Liam Walsh and Josh Brownhill and as the temperature began to drop in South London, City saw close shots in quick succession from Walsh and Matty Taylor preventing City from extending the scoring.
But City conceded their first spot-kick of the night when Jack Rudoni took a tumble in the penalty area and Adam Roscrow converted from 12 yards, burying the ball into the bottom left corner.
City rallied though with Callum O’Dowda finding Brownhill in space, who fed Taylor in behind the defence but his narrow effort was well blocked by the Dons keeper.
Johnson made more changes with Marley Watkins, Opi Edwards, Saikou Janneh and Hakeeb Adelakun all brought on to replace Walsh, Vyner, Diédhiou and Taylor, as the head coach looked to squeeze more minutes out of his squad.
Wollacott, a half-time substitute, soon pulled off one of the saves of the evening when he expertly tipped away a shot from Folivi, to much applause from both sets of supporters around the ground.
As the minutes ticked by, Adelakun fizzed a strong strike just wide of goal while at the other end a handball from Nathan Baker saw Wollacott tasked with City facing a fourth penalty in two games, which Folivi dispatched not long before the full-time whistle.
Next stop, Tampa.
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