Blackburn Rovers 0 v AFC Wimbledon 1
A fantastic solo goal from Kwesi Appiah was enough to earn AFC Wimbledon victory at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday (16 September) and lift the Dons to sixteenth in the League One table.
The previous incarnation of Wimbledon never won at Ewood Park, and ten seasons ago Blackburn were on their way to finishing seventh in the Premier League while the Dons were set for promotion from the Isthmian League. It was an indicator of how the two clubs have fared since then that they met on equal footing on Saturday but that the Dons could have won by more.
After a brief initial flurry, Blackburn struggled to get out of their own half during a first period that saw the Dons again playing wth the high tempo that had marked their midweek draw against Gillingham.
Wimbledon took the lead shortly after 15 minutes. Appiah stole possession just inside his own half and charged forward down the right-hand flank before cutting in. Although his initial shot was blocked by a Blackburn defender going to ground, the Ghanaian striker extracted the ball from between the tangled legs and blasted home into the far corner.
And six minutes later Andy Barcham and Lyle Taylor combined to tee up Dean Parrett, whose shot from distance was narrowly wide of the Blackburn goal.
Shortly before the interval the home side began to press again, with Dominic Samuel heading narrowly over a Craig Conway cross and substitute Bradley Dack having a cross-cum-shot from the goal-line turned behind at the near post by George Long.
Overall the Dons deserved their half-time lead and they set about extending it after the interval. Barcham was released down the left flank by a delightfully weighted Liam Trotter pass. Barcham’s shot was blocked but fell to Parrett on the penalty spot, only for his shot to be deflected behind for a corner.
And Parrett was involved again when he battled to win possession in his own half and ran past two challenges before finding Appiah on the edge of the box; Appiah’s curling effort was somehow clawed away by goalkeeper David Raya as it seemed destined for the top corner.
But after Deji Oshilaja headed over a Parrett corner, the balance started shifting. With the home crowd howling for everything and nothing, Blackburn gained the territorial advantage such that the Dons eventually felt obliged to switch to a five-man defence, with Paul Robinson coming off the bench, but still the home side failed to fashion many clear-cut chances.
On one of the few occasions when Blackburn did threaten, Harry Chapman’s cross from the right was headed on target by Dack but was somehow kept out on the line by Long, who thrust out a hand as his body went in the other direction, with Fuller on hand to complete the clearance.
Further resolute defending meant that the Dons made it through to the full-time whistle with their lead intact, and will go into the home match with Milton Keynes (Friday 22 September) with confidence boosted. They then travel in midweek to take on Southend (Tuesday 26 September).
Blackburn: Raya, Caddis, Ward, Mulgrew, Williams, Bennett, Smallwood (Graham 55), Evans, Conway (Dack 33), Samuel, Antonsson (Chapman 69). Subs not used: Whittingham, Leutwiler, Gladwin, Downing.
Booked: Bennett 69, Evans 89.
Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Nightingale, Oshilaja, Francomb, Parrett, Hartigan, Trotter, Barcham (Forrester 74), Taylor (Robinson 80), Appiah (McDonald 74). Subs not used: Sibbick, Kaja, McDonnell, Egan.
Goalscorer: Appiah 16.
Booked: Nightingale 60, Fuller 86.
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September 15, 2017