Wimbledon 2 v Barnet 0
Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley was delighted after his side battled to a 2-0 home win against Barnet on Saturday (3 October).
An early goal from Lyle Taylor and an injury-time second by substitute Sean Rigg gave the Dons the points despite a performance that was at times less than well-oiled.
‘We can play better than we played today,’ Ardley told the club’s official website, ‘but we played brilliantly in midweek [against Northampton] and never got the just rewards.
‘Today we had to put in a performance of character. Although we were deep at times, we defended our box resiliently.’
The Dons certainly enjoyed the better of the first half but struggled to contain Barnet after the break once the visitors switched their tactics to keep their two wide midfielders hugging the touchline, stretching the play and denying Dons players the opportunity to back each other up.
But throughout those anxious second-half moments, the Dons had the comfort of a goal from Taylor that came after just seven minutes. Taylor was played into the inside right channel by Barry Fuller and showed physical strength to hold off the challenge of Michael Nelson before lashing the ball home to put the hosts 1-0 ahead.
The Dons continued to press, with Jake Reeves and Adebayo Azeez frequently involved in their best moments, and it was the latter who brought the Dons a chance to extend their lead when he fell in the area under pressure from Nelson, although there appeared little wrong with the challenge.
With the less than fully fit Bayo Akinfenwa on the bench, George Francomb assumed penalty-taking duties but shot tamely at Max Crocombe to compound his recent below-par form.
And it looked like Wimbledon might be made to pay for that miss as their second-half performance stuttered following Barnet’s switched approach, and the north Londoners started coming into the game more as an attacking threat.
First James Shea was relieved when his poor clearance fell to Luke Gambin but the Barnet man decided to pass to John Akinde instead of shooting, his cross being blocked by Paul Robinson.
And then Barry Fuller had to be alert to block an effort from Aaron McLean.
But the Dons’ defence held firm to achieve their first clean sheet of the season and, to cap off the afternoon, in injury time Ardley’s men got a second goal.
Barnet keeper Crocombe decided to come up for a corner as his side pressed for the equaliser but the ball was cleared to Azeez who set Rigg free. The wide man calmly ran a distance into the Barnet half before slotting into the empty net to ensure Wimbledon hearts could beat a little slower.
The Dons will be hoping to build on the clean sheet when they travel to Oxford United next weekend (10 October) before entertaining Morecambe the following Saturday in a match that has been moved to a 2pm kick-off.
Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Robinson, Ajayi, Meades (Kennedy 80), Francomb (Rigg 68), Bulman, Reeves, Barcham, Taylor (Akinfenwa 63), Azeez. Subs not used: Osborne, McDonnell, Kaja, Toonga.
Goalscorers: Taylor 7, Rigg 90.
Barnet: Crocombe, Hoyte, Nelson (Gambin 45), N’Gala, Johnson, Yiadom, Weston, Togwell (Muggleton 74), Vilhete (Gash 25), McLean, Akinde. Subs not used: Champion, Shomotun, Stephens, Gondoh.
Booked: Yiadom 50, McLean 60.