Dons Poised For Play-Offs After Orient Win

Wimbledon 1 v Leyton Orient 0

Wimbledon are on the brink of securing a play-off place after beating Leyton Orient 1-0 at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (23 April).

The Dons need two points from their remaining three fixtures in order to secure a play-off berth. Even if Neal Ardley’s men fail to achieve that, Cambridge United must win both their remaining fixtures in order to overtake the Dons into the crucial seventh-place spot.

This result made it five successive victories and three back-to-back clean sheets, leaving manager Neal Ardley delighted afterwards.

‘It is the effort and endeavour that the boys are putting in to keep a clean sheet,’ he said on the club’s website. ‘They are working their socks off. Everyone is all in it for the team. No-one is focusing on their own performance. They are thinking “we are not going to lose this game” as a team.’

Ardley made to changes from the side that won at Dagenham & Redbridge in midweek, with Callum Kennedy coming in to replace the injured Jonathan Meades and Connor Smith starting in place of Sean Rigg.

After weathering an initial flurry from the visitors, Wimbledon settled into their stride. Andy Barcham went close to opening the scoring when he cut in from the wing, left a bamboozled Nicky Hunt stumbling and cut inside to unleash a powerful shot that visiting keeper Alex Cisak turned away.

Smith also went close, heading wide from a George Francomb corner, but soon after the quarter of an hour the Dons had the lead. There was an element of good fortune as Peter Ramage’s attempt to concede a throw near his own corner flag ricocheted off Francomb’s legs, allowing the Wimbledon man to scamper towards goal. Cisak did well to block Tom Elliott’s effort, but Lyle Taylor pounced on the rebound to fire home for his 21st goal of the season.

Francomb was having his best game for some time and was instrumental as the Dons continued to apply the pressure. First his corner was headed wide by Elliott when the striker really should have done better, and then he seized on a bouncing ball to set up Taylor whose first-time effort was palmed away by Cisak.

The half ended with Taylor releasing Elliott but his shot was again saved by Cisak as the visiting keeper kept his team in it at the half-time break.

Leyton Orient fashioned a chance of their own soon after the break, Sean Clohessy’s low ball in from the flank finding Armand Gnanduillet who forced a fine save from the otherwise underworked Kelle Roos.

And the visitors had a glorious chance to equalise when Roos only partially cleared a cross with his punch, resulting in a scramble from which Ollie Palmer fired over.

But Wimbledon started to re-exert their authority and Barcham spurned a glorious chance when Barry Fuller’s cross was missed by the Orient defence and fell to the former Portsmouth man at close range, but his shot was again saved by Cisak.

Barcham later fired wide and substitute Adebayo Azeez shot into the side netting, but overall it was a comparatively comfortable win for the Dons marred only by the occasional heart-in-mouth moment on the rare occasions that Leyton Orient threatened.

The Dons get a chance to seal their play-off place when they entertain Portsmouth on Tuesday 26 April, before travelling to Stevenage (30 April) and rounding off with a home encounter against Newport the following weekend.

Wimbledon: Roos, Fuller, Robinson, Charles, Kennedy, Francomb (Rigg 70), Bulman, Smith, Barcham, Elliott, Taylor (Azeez 77). Subs not used: Shea, Akinfenwa, Fitzpatrick, Sweeney, Murphy.

Goalscorer: Taylor 17.

Leyton Orient: Cisak, Hunt, Baudry, Brisley, Ramage, Clohessy (Kashket 76), James, Moore, Turgott (Semedo 85), Gnanduillet, Palmer. Subs not used: Payne, Binnom-Williams, Sargeant, Jahraldo-Martin, Pollock.

Att: 4,732.

By Rob Crane

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April 25, 2016