Wimbledon 4 v Luton Town 1
Wimbledon twice struck two quick-fire goals as they cruised to victory against a lacklustre Luton on Saturday (13 February), winning 4-1 at Kingsmeadow.
The Dons bounced back from the disappointment of their home defeat against Yeovil last time out to make it just one defeat in eight matches with Lyle Taylor grabbing the headlines with a brace.
But there was also another assured performance from Ryan Sweeney who stepped into the starting line-up in place of the injured Karleigh Osborne and formed a solid partnership with Paul Robinson.
The Dons came out of the starting blocks in a hurry, forcing the visitors onto the back foot from the off, but for all their territorial dominance there were few efforts on target to show for it. A notable exception was a long-range effort from Barry Fuller that forced Luton keeper Elliot Justham into a full-length save.
And there was just a sniff of concern that things might not be going the Dons’ way when they lost influential midfielder Jake Reeves in the 20th minute, victim of a robust Luton challenge.
But any concern that Lady Luck might be elsewhere evaporated in the 24th minute as the Dons took the lead in fortuitous circumstances. From Sweeney ‘s attempt to head down a George Francomb corner, the ball hit Luton defender Scott Cuthbert on the head and ballooned over Justham into the back of the net.
Buoyed by that slice of luck, minutes later the confident Dons were 2-0 ahead. The Dons capped a good passing move with Jon Meades lofting the ball towards Andy Barcham. Faced with the imminent goal line, Barcham hooked it over his head towards where Taylor steadied himself and calmly steered the ball home with his head, the epitome of precision rather than power.
On the rare occasions that Luton did threaten during the first period on-loan debutant keeper Kelle Roos was more than equal to the task, including a tidy save from Paul Benson on the stroke of half time.
The match was over as a contest within just a few minutes of the half-time interval as the Dons quickly doubled their advantage. Barcham tormented his defender down the left before delivering a cross that was cleared only as far as substitute Sean Rigg on the edge of the area, and he promptly drilled it back past Justham to make it 3-0.
It was all Wimbledon at this stage and they looked like they might score every time they went forward, as Barcham saw a shot deflected narrowly wide.
But the fourth goal was achieved soon afterwards, as the Dons again employed a training ground corner routine with Francomb delivering a low ball to Taylor, lurking near the penalty spot, who produced a half volley to scissor the ball home.
Perhaps inevitably the Dons failed to maintain their momentum after such a breathless start to the half and Luton started to enjoy slightly more of the play.
Roos had already been forced to save from a Paddy McCourt effort, scrambling to also smother the rebound, before the visitors scored the undeniable goal of the match.
Olly Lee played the ball forward to Jack Marriott on the edge of the area and he span Meades before drilling home to give his side just a glimmer of hope.
Robinson nearly earned himself a goal with a deft near-post flick of the foot from a corner only to see Justham save, while Luton also had a goal ruled out for handball.
The Dons will be hoping to maintain their form as they visit Barnet next weekend before hosting Carlisle United on 23 February.
Wimbledon: Roos, Fuller, Meades, Reeves (Rigg 21), Robinson, Bulman, Sweeney, Barcham, Francomb, Taylor (Akinfenwa 75), Elliott (Azeez 75). Subs not used: Shea, Kennedy, Fitzpatrick, Gallagher.
Goalscorers: Cuthbert (o.g.) 23, Taylor 25, 49, Rigg 47.
Luton: Justham, O’Donnell, Sheehan, Cuthbert, Howells, McGeehan, Lee (Pigott 72), McCourt (Smith 56), Marriott, Benson, Mackail-Smith (Okuonghae 45). Subs not used: Tyler, Potts, Green, Ruddock.
Goalscorer: Marriott 59.
Booked: Benson 38, McGeehan 75.