Wimbledon Stretch Lead At Top

Wimbledon 3 v Eastbourne Borough 0

Wimbledon’s first league game for over a month – thanks to a combination of bad weather and cup matches –saw them extend their lead at the top of the table with a 3-0 win over Eastbourne on Tuesday (28 December).

With title rivals Crawley and Luton both sitting it out due to postponed games, the Dons were able to extend their lead despite losing half a team to injuries and illness.

Both sides hit the bar in the opening exchanges. First the returning Lee Minshull saw his effort smack the woodwork and bounce clear, and then ex-Don Jamie Taylor’s curling effort grazed the top of the bar as it went over.

Eastbourne’s hopes weren’t helped when they lost Matt Langston to injury after just 22 minutes, and then Richard Pacquette dealt a further blow to their aspirations just before the half hour mark.

It seemed innocuous enough when Seb Brown went to ground to gather a harmless through ball, but Pacquette slid in late with studs raised and caught Brown in the face. Pacquette received a straight red for his lunge; Brown received lengthy treatment and was able to continue once the flow of blood had been stemmed, although he needed hospital treatment after the game.

A man down, Eastbourne started to look stretched. The breakthrough for the Dons came just before half time when a corner seemed to be played back across his own goal by visiting defender Neil Jenkins, leaving Mark Nwokeji with the simple task of blasting home from close range.

Steve Gregory limped out of the game at half-time, replaced by Reece Jones, and the Welshman made an immediate impression. He saw two shots in quick succession blocked by visiting goalkeeper Rikki Banks as the Dons turned up the pressure.

Despite numerous chances, it wasn’t until 10 minutes from the end that the Dons got the crucial second, when Rashid Yussuff’s miscontrol bounced through to Ricky Wellard who found himself one on one with Banks and took his time to bring the ball under control before slotting home.

And a minute from the end the scoring was complete when Jon Main’s effort was blocked but fell to Yussuff who curled a shot into the far top corner.

The Dons entertain Hayes & Yeading on Saturday (1 January) before travelling to Newport County for a top-of-the-table clash on Monday (3 January).

Attendance: 3,367

Wimbledon: Brown, Hatton, Bush, Minshull, Franks, Gregory (Jones 46), Wellard, Yussuff, Nwokeji, Kedwell, Jackson (Main 68). Sub not used: Turner.

Goalscorers: Nwokeji 45, Wellard 80, Yussuff 89.

Booked: Hatton 88.

Easbourne Borough: Banks, Jenkins (Baker 84), Smart, Austin, Langston (Elphick 22), Taylor, Johnson, Pacquette, M. Crabb, Strevett (N. Crabb 63), Nelson. Subs not used: Atkin, Brinkhurst.

Booked: Smart 33.

Sent off: Pacquette 28.

Referee: Michael Bull (Essex).

Rob Crane

December 30, 2010