Wimbledon 3 v Port Vale 2
Christian Jolley hit a late, late winner for Wimbledon as they achieved their first home win back in the Football League with a 3-2 victory over Port Vale on Saturday (3 September).
After defeat against Bristol Rovers and a draw against Hereford, it was third time lucky for the Dons as they finally emerged victorious in front of their home fans, but it was a nerve-wracking affair that was only secured at the death by Jolley's calmly taken goal.
The game was deep into injury time when Lee Minshull played a long, lofted pass for Jolley to run onto in the inside-right channel. The former Kingstonian man bore down on goal, jinked inside one defender and shuffled past another before curling a perfectly placed shot into the far corner of the goal.
It capped a remarkable afternoon's entertainment that had seen the Dons battered for much of the first period before taking the lead against the run of play just before half time.
The visitors repeatedly exposed the Dons' lack of pace at the back and had enough chances to have built up a handsome first-half lead.
Louis Dodds came closest to opening the scoring, darting on to a flick-on and past the combined challenge of Sam Hatton and Brett Johnson. But keeper Seb Brown got enough contact to take the sting out of his goal-bound shot and, as it trickled towards the line, Johnson recovered to scoop the ball clear.
And Ben Williamson also went close, hitting the post with his shot after flicking the ball over Jamie Stuart's head and shrugging off Ricky Wellard's attentions.
At this stage of the game, the Dons would have been content to reach half time with the scores level - but it was following a Vale attack that they broke up the other end and scored.
Gareth Gwillim released Luke Moore who charged forward before sliding the ball through for the impressive debutant Kieran Djilali. The former Palace man burst into the box where he was brought down by Vale keeper Stuart Tomlinson. Although Tomlinson saved Luke Moore's spot kick, Jack Midson was first to the rebound to give the Dons an unlikely lead.
There was still some desperate defending for the Dons before the break, with Hatton in the thick of the action as his head was on the receiving end of Dodds' close-range piledriver and alert enough to block the same player's follow-up effort.
It took less than a minute of the second-half for Vale to equalise, Dodds finally getting on the scoresheet from the edge of the box, but Wimbledon were now more confident and able to assert themselves, with half-time substitute Jolley causing the visitors no end of torment.
The Dons were rewarded for their more threatening play on the hour. Midson received the ball from Max Porter midway in the Vale half and played a delightfully weighted first-time pass into space for Gwillim to run onto. The left-back steadied himself when confronted with a bouncing ball before unleashing a rocket into the far corner of the goal.
The Dons continued to threaten but were stung when in the 84th minute Vale appeared to have snatched a draw. Their long throw was flicked on and fell to substitute Sam Morsy, who wrong footed Wellard before firing home through a host of bodies.
But, with time almost up, up stepped Jolley to send the home supporters delirious and give the Dons a win that their second-half effort deserved.
Next Saturday (10 September) the Dons travel to Aldershot Town in a match that is all-ticket for away fans, before hosting Northampton Town (Tuesday 13 September) and Cheltenham (Saturday 17 September).
Wimbledon: Brown, Gwillim, Porter (Minshull 73), Stuart, Johnson, Hatton, Wellard, Midson, L. Moore (Jolley 46), S. Moore, Djalili (Yussuff 69). Subs not used: Jackson, Turner.
Goalscorers: Midson 39, Gwillim 60, Jolley 94.
Booked: S. Moore 12, Minshull 77.
Port Vale: Tomlinson, Yates, McCombe, Owen, McDonald (Richards 62), Taylor, Griffith, Roberts (Morsy 71), Dodds, Pope, Williamson (Little 61). Subs not used: Martin, Green.
Goalscorers: Dodds 46, Morsy 84.
Booked: Roberts 32, Tomlinson 39, Owen 58, Dodds 97.
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).
By Rob Crane
www.wimbledonsw19.com are the proud sponsors of Marcus Gayle's away kit
September 4, 2011