Wimbledon 2 v Hartlepool 1
A debut goal from striker Danny Hylton earnt Wimbledon their second 2-1 home win within a week as they came from being to beat Hartlepool on Tuesday (28 January).
The striker, who joined on loan from Rotherham during the week, was introduced at half-time along with Charlie Wyke as the Dons shook things up following a disappointing first half that saw them go in trailing 1-0.
And the refreshed strike partnership helped turn things around as they struck up an immediate understanding that culminated with Hylton stroking home the winner with quarter of an hour remaining.
Boss Neal Ardley had chosen to give full league debuts to Kevin Sainte-Luce and Aaron Morris as he changed the side around following Saturday’s win against Exeter, but was rewarded with a below-par first period.
Afterwards, Ardley reflected on the club’s official website: ‘I tactically got it wrong and I have apologised to the players. To the fans it would probably have seemed like the players were not playing with any passion, but tactically Hartlepool were better than us.
‘We went for a 4-4-2 at half-time. I know there was a change in personnel but it was the system. The whole team stepped up and did their jobs better, but I take responsibility for the first half.’
Although Wimbledon looked sluggish in the first period, the visitors were also extremely lively, with Bradley Walker forcing two early saves from Ross Worner in the Wimbledon goal.
Surprisingly, considering the amount of possession that they enjoyed, it wasn’t until just before the break that Hartlepool took the lead. Luke Williams turned his man by the touchline before delivering an excellent cross that Andy Monkhouse headed back across goal for the stooping Luke James to head home and make it 1-0 to the visitors.
That prompted Ardley’s half-time switch around, and Wyke and Hylton wasted no time in making an impression as straight from the kick-off Hylton fed Wyke whose shot from a tight angle was comfortably saved by Scott Flinders, with Hylton just failing to get to the rebound.
Veteran Marlon Harewood wasted an opportunity to make it 2-0 to the visitors, blazing narrowly over after charging clear, while for the Dons Sammy Moore saw his edge-of-the-area side-footed effort turned around by Flinders after he was set up by Harry Pell.
With just over quarter of an hour remaining the Dons were on level terms courtesy of a bizarre goal. Sammy Moore’s free-kick was delivered towards the penalty spot where Will Antwi’s header had more height than direction. But the ball ballooned over Flinders and then dropped between two defenders on the line, both calmly watching it descend between them while abdicating responsibility. 1-1.
And minutes later came the winner, courtesy of Hylton. The impressive Morris played a looping ball in to the edge of the box that Hylton controlled on his chest before cleverly making space for himself and twisting to prod home and make it 2-1 to the Dons.
The Dons will be hoping to make it three wins in a row when they visit Oxford on Saturday (1 February) before hosting Rochdale a week later.
Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller (Arthur 68), Jones, Morris, Antwi, Fenlon, Sainte-Luce, Pell, S. Moore, Sheringham (Hylton 46), Midson (Wyke 46). Subs not used: Bennett, Francomb, L. Moore, Brown.
Goalscorers: Antwi 74, Hylton 76.
Booked: Pell 70, Arthur 85.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Baldwin, Burgess, Holden, Walton, Walker, Monkhouse, Williams, James, Harewood (Barmby 74). Subs not used: Collons, Franks, Rafferty, Compton, Sweeney, Rodney.
Goalscorer: James 44.
Booked: Walton 57, Baldwin 88.
By Rob Crane
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January 29, 2014