Wimbledon 4 v Cheltenham Town 1
Wimbledon bounced back from their midweek defeat against Northampton with an emphatic 4-1 win against high-flying Cheltenham Town on Saturday (17 September).
But it took Ricky Wellard's 31st minute opener to settle Wimbledon's nerves; before then, the Dons had looked anxious both with and without the ball.
And they were left grateful that Cheltenham left their goalscoring boots at home. Danny Andrew was the first to spurn an opportunity, his free-kick being straight down Seb Brown's throat. Alan Bennett's looping header went just over the crossbar with Brown stranded, before Andrew fired another free-kick just wide.
Kieran Djilali went close at the other end, forcing a near-post save from Jack Butland, before Cheltenham resumed their profligacy with Russell Penn cutting inside two men but firing tamely at Brown and Jeff Goulding heading off target when well placed.
Christian Jolley had been posing some problems for the visitors' defence but it was still against the general run of play when he set up Sam Hatton for a right-wing cross that was headed into the far corner of the goal by Wellard to give the Dons the lead.
That goal gave the Dons a lift and had the reverse effect on the visitors, with the balance of play shifting as half-time approached. And the Dons went into the break 2-0 ahead courtesy of an own-goal, as Lee Minshull's low cross was turned into his own net by Cheltenham defender Steve Elliott.
Wellard was withdrawn at half-time, suffering from breathing difficulties, but his replacement Rashid Yussuff helped force the second-half pace with his direct running as the Dons turned up the pressure.
For a long time it looked as if England Under-21 international Butland - on loan from Birmingham City - would singlehandedly keep the Dons at bay, pulling off a string of fine saves, including gathering at Jack Midson's feet following a corner and punching clear a Hatton cross under pressure.
But he was helpless in the 66th minute when a partially cleared corner was played back in by Yussuff to the far post where Midson was lurking unmarked to volley the Dons 3-0 ahead.
Despite continued pressure, it wasn't until near the end that the Dons got a deserved fourth, Luke Moore cutting in along the goal line from the right and crossing for Midson whose pointblank effort was somehow saved by Butland only for Yussuff to stab home the rebound at the second attempt.
There was still time for the visitors to grab a consolation, Darryl Duffy expertly steering a header past Brown, but it was a win that, after their initial nervousness, the Dons richly deserved.
The Dons travel to Bradford City next week (24 September) before hosting Gillingham on Saturday 1 October in a game that has been designated all ticket.
Wimbledon: Brown, Gwillim Stuart, Hatton, Wellard (Yussuff 46), Midson, Jolley, Minshull (Porter 85), S. Moore, Djilali (L. Moore 50), McNaughton. Subs not used: Bush, Turner.
Goalscorers: Wellard 31, Elliott (o.g.) 40, Midson 66, Yussuff 85.
Cheltenham: Butland, Lowe (Jombati 72), Andrew, Elliott, Pack, Low, Goulding, Spencer (Duffy 58), Bennett, Penn, Mohamed (Smikle 64). Subs not used: Brown, Summerford.
Goalscorer: Duffy 90.
By Rob Crane
www.wimbledonsw19.com are the proud sponsors of Marcus Gayle's away kit
September 19, 2011