Southend United 0 v Wimbledon 1
Wimbledon eked out their second 1-0 away win in four days as they won at Southend United on Tuesday (19 August) to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
The Dons were unsurprisingly unchanged following a similar result at Luton days before, but faced a tough challenge against a Southend side that hadn’t even conceded a goal before this game.
But George Francomb’s goal on the hour from a well-worked free-kick routine ensured that Neal Ardley’s men moved up to fifth in the embryonic table.
‘We had to take a lot of pressure,’ Ardley told the club’s official website afterwards, ‘But we stayed strong defensively and [...] James Shea also made some brilliant saves.
‘We could have got another one after the goal, but we will take the three points because it was a tough game.’
Southend wasted a glorious chance to take the lead in the opening minutes, when Myles Weston got behind the Wimbledon defence but pulled his shot wide of Shea’s goal.
But in an end-to-end opening the Dons also created chances, with Francomb forcing a save from Southend keeper Daniel Bentley and Adebayo Akinfenwa also shooting over the crossbar.
The home side pressed more as the first period wore on, with Shaq Coulthirst posing problems. First the on-loan Tottenham player forced a fine reflex save from Shea, and then he fired off target when given an even more presentable chance.
The second period started in opposite fashion, with Wimbledon in the ascendancy. Adam Barrett had already headed over the bar before the goal came on the hour mark.
In a rare example of a training ground free-kick routine actually paying dividends, after Akinfenwa was fouled Sean Rigg rolled the ball to Francomb and he curled his effort to snuggle into the top right-hand corner of the Southend net to make it 1-0.
The Dons were now in the ascendancy, with Rigg and Dannie Bulman both forcing saves from Bentley, but the game ended with Southend desperately trying to salvage a point.
Shea had to be smart to pull of a fine point-blank save to deny Jack Payne, and then Barry Fuller was in action to clear off the line following Weston’s effort.
Substitute Adebayo Azeez had a half-chance to seal it in injury time, only to tamely shoot too close to Bentley, but overall it was another hard-earned and well-deserved win for the Dons.
They now face a potential banana skin on Saturday (23 August) when they entertain Hartlepool United, who are struggling and without a point following their relegation from League One. Wimbledon often toiled against struggling teams last season, and Ardley warned that his side would need ‘energy and zip’ in their performance if they are to reverse that trend on Saturday.
Southend: Bentley, Prosser, White (Worrall 63), Bolger, Coker, Leonard, Coulthirst (Payne 82), Clifford, Hurst, Weston, Corr (Barnard 63). Subs not used: Ibenfeldt, Thompson, Smith, Brown.
Booked: Bolger 81.
Wimbledon: Shea, Barrett, Bennett, Fuller, Kennedy, Bulman, Rigg, Francomb (Pell 67), Moore, Tubbs (Sainte-Luce 68), Akinfenwa (Azeez 82). Subs not used: Worner, Phillips, Nicholson, Beere.
Goalscorer: Francomb 60.
Booked: Francomb 49, Kennedy 76, Rigg 90.Att: 5,364