Wimbledon 2 v Fleetwood Town 0
Wimbledon maintained their 100 percent home record on Saturday (31 August) with an impressive 2-0 win against hotly tipped Fleetwood Town.
The result means that the Dons leapfrog Fleetwood into fourth place in the early season table and sit just three points behind early pacemakers Chesterfield.
The result had boss Neal Ardley purring on the club’s official website afterwards: ‘It was the most complete performance since I took over.
‘We know that we have quality, but we have to do the other sides of the game that you need in this league.
‘We did a bit of tactical work before the game on the tactics board, and the players went out and did everything I could have asked of them.’
But the Dons had to weather an initial spell as Fleetwood demonstrated their own early season confidence. First Barry Fuller was a relieved man as a Junior Brown cross deflected off him but went just wide of the post. Then Stewart Murdoch saw a dipping 25-yard effort bounce off the top of the crossbar with Ross Worner beaten.
Worner was into action again towards the end of the first period with a couple of quick-succession point-blank saves following another Brown cross, first denying Jeff Hughes and then, as the Dons struggled to clear, blocking Jamille Matt’s follow up.
With first-half time evaporating, the Dons were handed the lead when, following a George Francomb corner, Mark Roberts handled Rhys Weston’s flick-on inside the area. Harry Pell stepped forward to calmly send Scott Davies the wrong way and make it 1-0 to the hosts.
But there was still time for the Dons to extend that lead before going into the break, with Michael Smith converting in time added on. Francomb cut inside and put in a left-footed shot that ballooned up into the air off Stephen Jordan, and Smith reacted quickest to nip between his marker and Davies to head into the back of the net.
Those goals capped an impressive first-half display from the Dons against visitors who, as well as offering their own goalscoring threat, had until then looked resolute in defence, and Ardley used the break to impress upon his team the importance of not letting Fleetwood back into the game.
The Dons responded to that by asserting their dominance throughout the second period but were unable to cap their performance with any further goals.
Last season’s top scorer, Jack Midson, went close after being introduced on the hour, bursting between Fleetwood’s two centre backs to latch onto a clearance only to see Davies pull off a fine save to deny his shot into the far corner.
And Smith twice went close to extending his tally, heading just wide from a Fuller cross and then heading over following a Luke Moore free-kick.
Any disappointment at failing to improve their haul will no doubt be tempered by the knowledge that this was an impressive performance against a strong Fleetwood side.
The Dons travel to nearby Brentford on Tuesday (3 September) for a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie before returning to league action at the weekend with a trip to York City.
Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Frampton, Weston, Fenlon, Francomb (Midson 63), Pell, S. Moore, Porter (Arthur 76), L. Moore, Smith. Subs not used: Kennedy, Sweeney, Sainte-Luce, Strutton, Brown.
Goalscorers: Pell 42 (pen.), Smith 45.
Booked: Porter 62.
Fleetwood: Davies, Hogan, Roberts, Pond, Jordan, Brown (Blair 71), Murdoch (Schumacher 79), Hughes, Ball, Matt, Evans (Parkin 56). Subs not used: Howell, McLaughlin, Cresswell, Lucas.
Booked: Roberts 34, Schumacher 83.
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September 3, 2013