Wimbledon 2 v Chesterfield 1
Dom Poleon’s first goal for the Dons earned them a much-needed inaugural League Two victory as they came from behind to beat Chesterfield 2-1 at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (3 September).
Substitute Poleon’s strike came deep into injury time as Neal Ardley’s mean finally got their campaign underway after six matches without a win.
But Ardley was still a far-from happy man afterwards as this was arguably the Dons’ worst performance of the season, despite the result.
‘In the first half we were miles away from what the staff and probably the fans expect from a Wimbledon team,’ he told the club’s official website.
‘We will take the win but there is loads to work on. We were poor in a lot of things today and we need to analyse the game, train hard and make sure our performance levels are better next week.’
During a tepid first-half performance, it was nonetheless the Dons who got the first significant goalscoring opportunity as Chesterfield keeper Ryan Fulton kicked straight to Jake Reeves when out of position. But Reeves’ position in the channels meant that Fulton was able to scramble back towards his goal and gather the attempt.
But it was the visitors who looked most dangerous, enjoying plenty of possession and winger Gboly Ariyibi giving Jon Meades a torrid time.
Eventually the pressure told but again many Dons fans were left pointing the finger at goalkeeper Ryan Clarke. The disquieted keeper had already seen one easy edge-of-the-box gather bounce over his head before being cleared.
But his luck ran out when a Chesterfield corner was delivered to the edge of the goal area and he stayed rooted to the spot, leaving Darius Charles to contest an aerial ball with Sam Hird that ended with the Dons man heading into his own net.
The former Northampton man partially redeemed himself with a smart near-post block from a vicious Ched Evans effort, but it was the visitors who took a deserved lead into the break.
Soon after the break Evans was involved again, firing just off target, but Wimbledon upped the tempo after the interval and Tyrone Barnett nearly grabbed an equaliser, only for Fulton to pull off a save after good approach work by Andy Barcham.
But the Dons got the equaliser in the 53rd minute, with a slice of luck in their favour this time. George Francomb’s corner was headed towards goal by Paul Robinson and it took a huge deflection off Paul McGinn to leave Fulton helpless.
It was now Wimbledon who showed the better attacking play, but they were fortunate to survive in the 70th minute when Conor Wilkinson was left in acres of space only to fire against the post, with Ariyibi unable to capitalise on the rebound.
The Dons turned the screw further when they made a triple substitution, bringing on Poleon, Tom Elliott and Dean Parrett for Barcham, Francomb and the out-of-sorts Lyle Taylor.
Although Reeves spurned one opportunity for the winner, firing narrowly over the bar when well placed with eight minutes remaining, it was into injury time before the Dons got their reward.
Poleon was involved in the build-up, too, cutely cushioning a header to Reeves before making space for himself just inside the box and opening up his body shape to slot home the return pass.
The Dons host Sheffield United next weekend (10 September) before the following Saturday travelling across south London to face Charlton.
Wimbledon: Clarke, Meades, Robinson, Charles, Fuller, Barcham (Poleon 73), Reeves, Bulman, Francomb (Parrett 73), Taylor (Elliott 73), Barnett. Subs not used: Shea, Nightingale, Whelpdale, Kelly.
Goalscorers: Robinson 53, Poleon 90+1.
Booked: Elliott 78.
Chesterfield: Fulton, Donohue, Evatt, Hird, McGinn, Nolan (Anderson 87), Liddle, Mitchell (Wilkinson 66), O’Shea, Ariyibi, Evans. Subs not used: Gardner, Dennis, Simons, Maguire, Parkin.
Goalscorer: Charles (o.g.) 35.
Booked: Evans 90+5.
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September 5, 2016