Barnet 1 v Wimbledon 2
Lyle Taylor’s fourteenth goal of the season set Wimbledon on their way to a 2-1 win at Barnet on Saturday (20 February) as they extended their play-off chasing run to one defeat in nine matches.
Taylor struck in the first minute of the second half to set the Dons on their way to a deserved victory and was understandably pleased afterwards.
‘It’s a difficult place to come to and I think there will be a lot of teams that come here and lose points,’ he told the club’s official website. ‘Barnet play a brand of football that is hard to combat, but I think we played the conditions better than them.
‘We’ve not moved up the table but at the end of the day we can only keep racking up the points. Something has to give eventually! Once everyone has caught up with games in hand we will know more about what the table is going to look like.’
The Dons were urged on by almost half the crowd as 1,409 fans made the trip to north London, and they saw their side create the better chances in a scrappy first-half made worse by the conditions and a heavy pitch.
Tom Elliott could have opened the scoring in the very first minute only to see Barnet keeper Jamie Stephens save his header. And Andy Barcham fired an effort into the side netting, before also delivering a near-post cross that Elliott headed only narrowly off target.
Although Curtis Weston blazed over for the home side as they had a rare opportunity, it continued to be the Dons who enjoyed the upper hand and in the 34th minute they forced another save from Stephens. A Barnet defender made a hash of controlling the ball and Elliott seized on the chance, dispossessing him before firing in a fierce effort that Stephens palmed over.
But it took keeper Kelle Roos to keep the Dons in it as half-time approached. He’d already denied John Akinde before being called into action again, going down well to deny Andy Yiadom’s effort from the edge of the area.
The fragility of the stalemate was eased just seconds into the second period as the Dons took the lead. Ryan Sweeney played a hopeful ball forward from the back and Taylor gambled on his marker missing the ball, capitalising on the extra space to advance and scoop the ball over the stranded Stephens.
The home side responded and Roos was again called into action, diverting wide a long-range James Pearson effort and then going down at his near post to do the same when Yiadom found himself in space.
In between those efforts, Roos’ counterpart Stephens produced an even more memorable save, instinctively reacting to deny substitute Ade Azeez from point-blank range when the forward seemed destined to capitalise on another teasing Barcham delivery.
Azeez had better luck with five minutes remaining as he was teed up at close range by George Francomb and made no mistake to side foot home and make it 2-0 to Neal Ardley’s men.
Barnet responded to make it 2-1 just moments later, Mathew Stevens converting from close range after he span to beat marker Sweeney to a dropping ball. As the home side continued to press for an unlikely equaliser, the Dons held on through five minutes of injury time.
Although in tenth place, the Dons are just one point off a play-off berth and have at least a game in hand on most of the teams above them. They now enter a run of games that will have a huge bearing on how their season turns out as they play teams seeking automatic promotion or the play-offs: Carlisle (Kingsmeadow, 23 February), Oxford (Kingsmeadow, 27 February), Northampton (away, 1 March) and Accrington Stanley (Kingsmeadow, 5 March).
Barnet: Stephens, Pearson, Nelson, N’Gala, Johnson, Yiadom, Togwell (Stevens 66), Weston, Gambin, Hackett (Batt 45 (Randall 75)), Akinde. Subs not used: Champion, Muggleton, McKenzie-Lyle, Sesay.
Goalscorer: Stevens 87.
Wimbledon: Roos, Fuller, Robinson, Meades, Sweeney, Barcham, Bulman, Reeves, Francomb (Rigg 88), Taylor (Azeez 74), Elliott (Akinfenwa 74). Subs not used: Shea, Kennedy, Smith, Fitzpatrick.
Goalscorers: Taylor 46, Azeez 85.
Booked: Meades 90.