Wimbledon 3 v Gillingham 1
Christian Jolley's early quickfire double set Wimbledon on their way to a comfortable 3-1 win over Gillingham on Saturday (1 October).
And the pacey frontman was also involved in Wimbledon's other goal, netted by Jack Midson, with his presence causing panic in the visitors' defence throughout the game.
Jolley's joy contrasted with former Don Danny Kedwell, who returned to Kingsmeadow for the first time following his summer departure but failed to get a shot on target all afternoon.
The Dons had already lost left-back Gareth Gwillim through injury before they took a 10th-minute lead. Jamie Stuart's clearance fell into the inside right channel and spun viciously away from veteran defender Matt Lawrence as he stumbled, leaving Jolley to canter free and curl the ball into the far corner of the net for his third goal of the season.
And the fourth came following a throw-in just two minutes later, as Jolley bravely ignored the attentions of his marker to fling himself low at Sam Hatton's near-post cross and head the ball home.
The visitors were in disarray and it was no surprise when the Dons made it 3-0 with just over 20 minutes on the clock. Lee Minshull played a pass in to Jolley who was tightly marked but the panicking defenders merely succeeded in hacking the ball across the face of their own goal where a gleeful Midson pounced to tuck the ball home.
The Dons suffered their second injury-enforced substitution when Luke Moore was withdrawn just after the half hour, with Gillingham's robust challenges earned the ire of the Dons bench. And, in blazing hot conditions, the Dons started to drop deep as they looked to conserve their energy and hit Gillingham on the break.
Terry Brown's men continued to create chances of their own, particularly Jolley whose pace particularly discomforted Andy Frampton, but the visitors were starting to come into the game, too, with substitute Jo Kuffour causing problems for Brett Johnson.
And it was no real surprise when they pulled one back, Charlie Lee pouncing on a loose ball in the 'D' to fire home past a diving Seb Brown and into the top left corner of the net.
Had Gillingham got a second it would have been 'game on' but it was the Dons who continued to look most like scoring, despite conceding the majority of the possession, in particular when Rashid Yussuff and Midson between them had three successive strikes at goal blocked by a combination of goalkeeper Ross Flitney and Gillingham defenders.
The three points lift the Dons into fourth place, just two points off top spot in a tight League Two table, but afterwards manager Terry Brown was urging caution.
He told BBC London 94.9: "It was a great win for the club and playing in front of a sell-out crowd shows how far this club has come in nine years.
"I still ask for the Plymouth and Hereford scores; only [when] we are safe can we look further up the table."
The Dons make their Johnstone's Paint Trophy debut on Tuesday (4 October), entertaining Stevenage, before returning to league action with a trip to Morecambe the following Saturday.
Wimbledon: Brown, Hatton, Gwillim (Johnson 5), S. Moore, Stuart, McNaughton, Minshull (Porter 78), Yussuff, Midson, L. Moore (Mulley 33), Jolley. Subs not used: Turner, Kiernan.
Goalscorers: Jolley 10, 12, Midson 22.
Gillingham: Flitney, Frampton, Lee (Montrose 86), Richards, Whelpdale (Kuffour 59), Kedwell, Rooney, Lawrence (Weston 37), Fish, Jackman, Nouble. Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Payne.
Goalscorer: Lee 67.
Booked: Richard 13, Nouble 54, Jackman 68, Lee 84
Report by Rob Crane
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October 1, 2011