Cody McDonald Brace Seals AFC Wimbledon's Bradford Cruise

Bradford City 0 v AFC Wimbledon 4

Cody McDonald struck twice as AFC Wimbledon heaped the pain on out-of-form promotion-chasers Bradford City on Saturday (27 January), the Dons emerging comfortable 4-0 winners at Valley Parade to extend their unbeaten 2018 league run.

The Dons took the lead after 14 minutes with a goal that typified Bradford’s current shambolic run of form. There seemed little threat as Lyle Taylor challenged for the ball near the corner flag but, with the home defence snoozing, he latched on to the loose ball and narrowly succeeded in keeping it in play as it bounced along the goal line. With defenders slowly reacting to the danger, Taylor pulled the ball back to Jimmy Abdou who fired home across the face of the goal from what was still a comparatively narrow angle.

With Bradford and their supporters feeding off each other’s nerves, Wimbledon continued to fashion chances while the hosts were restricted to vague opportunities. Taylor went close with a free kick that was charged down while McDonald also headed narrowly over, but there was comparatively little sign of what was to come.

Bradford thought they had equalised early in the second period when former Wimbledon forward Dom Poleon deflected home a long-range shot but, after lengthy consultation, the match officials ruled it out for offside. The decision seemed to heap further stress on the crowd and home players and, soon afterwards, the Dons were deservedly further ahead.

A low ball into the box found McDonald with his back to goal and well marshalled by defenders but he showed great awareness to dink the ball into space that Andy Barcham scampered into. Barcham’s shot from the narrowest of angles somehow found its way home through the legs of goalkeeper Rouven Sattelmaier to put Wimbledon 2-0 ahead.

Six minutes later it was 3-0, and it was a goal entirely of McDonald’s own making. With McDonald and defender Nathaniel Knight-Percival almost alone in the Bradford half, McDonald showed great tenacity to chase down the defender and win possession of the ball. An old-fashioned shoulder barge ensured he kept the ball as Knight-Percival attempted to recover before McDonald scuttled infield before firing home a shot that Sattelmaier got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.

With ten minutes remaining it was deservedly 4-0 as the Dons scored from a counterattack that originated in their own half. McDonald played a lovely flick on the halfway line to release substitute Joe Pigott and, with the Bradford defenders gravitating towards the ball found space to latch onto the return pass and shoot home.

Manager Neal Ardley was understandably pleased afterwards, telling the club’s iFollow Dons channel: ‘To put a performance in like that, it needs 11 players on top of their game and today they were.

‘It was a real bonus to win by that many. We’ve had loads of games when we could have scored four or five but have only scored one. Today we had four or five chances and scored four.

‘I feel that I can play any of them at the moment; they seem like they are in a good place. There is still a long way to go – we are setting little targets and chipping away at them.’

The Dons’ attempts to extent their unbeaten run will face a tough challenge next weekend as they travel to Rotherham United (Saturday 3 February) and follow that up with a midweek trip to Bury (Tuesday 6 February), before facing fellow in-form strugglers Northampton at Kingsmeadow (Saturday 10 February).

Bradford: Sattelmaier, Guy, Knight-Percival, Kilgallon, Chicksen, Reeves (Lund 62), Vincelot, Law (Gibson 70), Taylor, Wyke, Poleon (Brunker 62). Subs not used: Dieng, McCartan, Warnock, Raeder.

Booked: Vincelot 90.

Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Oshilaja, Charles, Francomb (Meades 77), Trotter, Abdou (Hartigan 82), Soares, McDonald, Taylor (Pigott 70), Barcham. Subs not used: Robinson, Forrester, Kennedy, McDonnell.

Goalscorers: Abdou 14, Barcham 59, McDonald 65, 80.

Booked: Abdou 37, McDonald 77.

Att: 19,103.

By Rob Crane

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January 29, 2018