Wimbledon 2 v Newport 0
Two goals from Adebayo ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa were enough for Wimbledon to sink Newport County on Saturday (7 February) – and the big forward could have had a hat-trick if he hadn’t missed a second-half penalty.
Akinfenwa struck in either half to seal the points for the Dons and extend their mini unbeaten run to three games.
The first came after just 11 minutes following a sweeping, expansive move by the hosts. The ball was stroked out to Callum Kennedy on the left touchline and he release a searching ball up the line for Sean Rigg to sweep onto. The former Oxford winger didn’t disappoint, producing a first-time cross from deep that Akinfenwa rose to head home to put the Dons 1-0 ahead.
That early goal prompted a response from the visitors, and although Wimbledon still enjoyed plenty of the ball and James Shea’s goal was rarely threatened, much more of the play was now taking place in the Wimbledon half.
But the impressive young pair of Will Nightingale and Deji Oshilaja stood firm in the heart of the defence, although the closest that the Dons came to a second was when David Connolly fired just off target.
There may have been some trepidation when Nightingale was forced off at half-time through injury, but Mark Phillips came off the bench for his first match since September and looked like he’d never been away.
And the Dons should have gone further ahead ten minutes into the period when Kevin Feely carelessly gave the ball away to George Francomb midway in the Newport half.
With nobody between him and the goal, Francomb cantered away but the desperate Feely clipped his heels inside the box, producing a straight red card for Feely and a goalscoring opportunity for Akinfenwa from the spot.
But Akinfenwa’s penalty effort was perhaps his weakest contribution of the entire afternoon as his stuttering run-up left goalkeeper Joe Day nonplussed and standing his ground, resulting in a comfortable save for the Newport custodian.
But against ten men Wimbledon pressed forward with renewed vigour, with Alfie Potter and Adebayo Azeez replacing Rigg and Connolly to bring some new spark into the attack.
And they got their reward in the 73rd minute when Francomb’s cross into the centre was met by Akinfenwa and, although his first shot was blocked by his marker, it fell kindly to be dispatched emphatically into the back of the net and make it 2-0.
Although the Dons continued to push forward, that was it so far as the goals went, despite Oshilaja sometimes seeming to play more as a forward than a centre-back as he sought to exploit his skills on the ball.
‘It was important to win this home game with a tough schedule ahead,’ manager Neal Ardley told DonsPlayer afterwards, ‘but confidence is high and the boys are in good spirits.
‘The experienced boys are always talking to the young boys, but the youngsters are showing that arrogance and confidence.’
That tough schedule referred to by Ardley starts with visits to Burton Albion (Tuesday 10 February) and Shrewsbury Town (Saturday 14 February), before a home game against Luton (Saturday 21 February).
Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Oshilaja, Nightingale (Phillips 45), Kennedy, Francomb, Reeves, Bulman, Rigg (Potter 69), Connolly (Azeez 70), Akinfenwa. Subs not used: Moore, Beere, McDonnell, Tanner.
Goalscorer: Akinfenwa 11, 72.
Newport: Day, Feely, Yakubu, Jones, Jackson, Porter (Minshull 79), Chapman (Klukowski 75), Byrne, Sandell, O’Connor, Zebrowski (Storey 60). Subs not used: Jeffers, Flynn, Stephens, Poole.
Booked: Porter 45, Jones 70.
Sent-off: Feely 56.
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February 9, 2015