Fleetwood Town 0 v Wimbledon 2
Wimbledon will take a 2-0 lead into the concluding leg of their play-off semi-final after this impressive win at Fleetwood Town on Friday (6 May).
The Dons may have finished 12 points ahead of the Cod but only the most optimistic of Wimbledon fans would have predicted this result before the match, with the home side notoriously hard to break down in front of their own supporters.
But the Dons soon got into their stride, playing their customary passing game and stroking the ball around as they gently probed the home side’s defence, who looked increasingly uncomfy with runs in the channels being made by the Dons’ front three of Danny Kedwell, Kaid Mohamed and Luke Moore.
And, with the defence being superbly marshalled by Jamie Stuart, Seb Brown in the Wimbledon goal had comparatively little to do all evening.
The first real goalscoring opportunity fell to Steve Gregory, but his 16th minute shot was comfortably gathered by Cod keeper Danny Hurst.
The goal that the Dons’ possession deserved finally came six minutes before half-time, and ironically it came about because of a mistake by the Fleetwood defence rather than the Dons’ passing game. Cod centre-back pairing Steve McNulty and Sean Gregan both left the ball for each other and Moore seized hold of the opportunity, striding forward before firing low across the goal and into the far corner of the net to give the Dons a 1-0 lead.
There was still time before half-time for Gareth Gwillim to miss a golden opportunity from a Sam Hatton corner, but the Dons followers were more than content with a 1-0 half-time lead.
But the Dons’ night got even better as they doubled their advantage soon after the break, tormenting the home defence with their direct running and slick interplay. With 48 minutes on the clock, Moore strode forwards before setting up Mohamed, who calmy shot home into the far top corner of the net.
That triggered a period of Wimbledon dominance, with the Fleetwood team rocking on their heels. Ricky Wellard, Hatton, and Moore all went close to adding a third.
But Fleetwood, faced with the tie slipping from their grasp, chose to go on the offensive and switched to a more attacking set-up, and on 64 minutes Brown – who had not had a serious shot to save all evening – had to be alert to pull off an excellent block from Magno Vieira’s shot.
And the Dons’ young player of the year was alert again to deny Gareth Seddon as the home side’s frantic efforts saw the game opening up. But the Dons defence held firm, even after the loss of Gwillim through injury, with Hatton in particular well marshalling the dangerous Junior Brown.
But the Dons posed a constant threat of their own as they pushed forward on the counter attack, although no further goals came before the full-time whistle.
Afterwards, delighted manager Terry Brown told the Non-League Paper: “If you would have given me a draw on the way up here, I would have taken it. I just hope and pray that we don’t look back at our missed chances and regret not scoring three or four here.
“We are not there yet. Fleetwood will come down to us with nothing at all to lose. There’s still work to do.”
The second-leg, which takes place at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday (11 May), is already sold out. The winners are likely to face Luton Town in the final at the City of Manchester Stadium on 21 May; the Bedfordshire side lead Wrexham 3-0 in their tie.
Fleetwood Town: Hurst (Davies 46), Beeley, Barry, McNulty, Clancy (Harvey 52), Vieira, Mullan (Parker 52), Brown, McGuire, Seddon, Gregan. Subs not used: Cavanagh, Donnelly.
Booked: Gregan 45, Beeley 45.
Wimbledon: Brown, Hatton, Gwillim (Yakubu 55), Gregory, Stuart, Johnson, Yussuff (Minshull 75), Wellard, Kedwell, Mohamed, L. Moore (Jolley 88). Subs not used: Turner, Mulley.
Goalscorers: L. Moore 39, Mohamed 48.
Booked: Kedwell 45, Yussuff 48, Hatton 83.
Referee: Nick Kinseley (Essex).
May 8, 2011