Wimbledon 1 v Morecambe 0
Adebayo Akinfenwa’s third goal in a week was enough to give Wimbledon a 1-0 home win against Morecambe at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (20 September).
The big front man had been on target twice during midweek’s comfortable 3-0 win over Burton and he followed that up with another headed effort in this game, but in contrast with the Burton cruise this was a well-fought win that showed a different side to the Dons.
It was an open affair from the start, with both sides looking to push forward, but Wimbledon’s oft-shaky defence stood up to the challenge well and, on the rare occasions they were beaten, goalkeeper James Shea was more than up to the task.
With Matt Tubbs suspended, Adebayo Azeez was handed his full league debut and was immediately posing problems for the visiting defence, using his pace to exploit gaps.
But it was the tireless Dannie Bulman who forced the first save of the afternoon, capitalising on Akinfenwa’s approach work to force a save from visiting keeper Barry Roche.
Akinfenwa himself went close with a volleyed effort just off target, while George Francomb fired wide from a narrow angle and Alan Bennett headed over from close range as the Dons created continual openings.
But Morecambe had chances of their own in a frenetic game that never dropped its pace for a sustained period, in particular with Padraig Amond shooting straight at Shea from close range when he should have done better.
With 26 minutes on the clock, the Dons finally made the breakthrough that their play deserved. Morecambe only partially cleared a corner out to the flanks, where the scampering Bennett belied his defensive priorities to deliver an inch-perfect cross that Akinfenwa nodded home to make it 1-0 to the Dons.
Shea had been an alert presence at the back for the Dons throughout, quick off his line to gather loose balls and thwart Morecambe attacks, but he saved his best until just before the break when he palmed over a fierce long-range Ryan Williams free-kick to preserve Wimbledon’s lead going into the break.
The second period was a repeat of the first, with Wimbledon enjoying the majority of the opportunities but having to be continually alert as Morecambe tried to force their way back into the match.
So while Akinfenwa twice went close, including a 20-yard drive beaten away by Roche, Shea also had to be alert to block Paul Mullin’s fierce drive.
The Dons continued to press even following a slight change in formation, as Azeez was withdrawn with Tom Beere coming on to play slightly behind Akinfenwa as boss Neal Ardley sought to preserve the lead.
And Beere almost made an immediate impact, turning inside following good play by Francomb before curling an effort narrowly wide of the far post.
Having performed resolutely all afternoon, Wimbledon perhaps deserved a final bit of luck to clinch the win as Mullin seemed destined to equalise with just minutes remaining but somehow contrived to power his header off target.
A delighted Ardley told Dons Player afterwards, ‘We showed a lot of resilience. We dropped a little bit deeper near the end to defend what we had, but I cannot remember them opening us up too many times.
‘There are lots of different ways to win games in League 2 and we’ve chosen a different way than Tuesday.’
The Dons will get another opportunity to explore their options when they travel to Newport County next weekend (27 September), before another trip to Cheltenham the following week.
Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Barrett, Harrison, Bennett, Rigg (Kennedy 86), Bulman, Francomb, Moore, Akinfenwa, Azeez (Beere 80). Subs not used: Frampton, Phillips, Sainte-Luce, Nicholson, McDonnell.
Goalscorer: Akinfenwa 27.
Morecambe: Roche, Edwards, Widdowson, Parrish Goodall (Redshaw 61), Beeley, Mullin, Kenyon, Amond, Ellison, Williams. Subs not used: Hughes, Wright, Sampton, McGowan, McCready, Arestidou.
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September 22, 2014