Wimbledon 2 v Oxford United 1
Defender Sean Kelly was the unlikely matchwinner as Wimbledon beat Oxford United 2-1 at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (14 January) to make it a rare double-win against the Us.
Before this season, the Dons had won just three of their encounters against Oxford, losing no fewer than 19 and drawing four. But Kelly’s winner combined with an earlier 3-1 victory at the Kassam Stadium to give Wimbledon latest bragging rights.
And the rare achievement certainly had manager Neal Ardley enthusing.
‘I rate Oxford really highly,’ he told the club’s website. ‘I certainly think they are a top-half team in this league.
‘We potentially could have had four or five goals and they did not have many clear-cut chances, so that shows how good the performance was.’
But it didn’t start that way for the Dons as they fell behind after six minutes. Oxford exchanges a sequence of quick passes in midfield before it fell to Robbie Hall 30 yards from goal. There appeared little immediate threat but Hall’s long-range shot dipped just in front of James Shea and nestled inside the post.
Wimbledon bounced back immediately, equalising within six minutes. Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood had already saved one effort after a neat Lyle Taylor spin and shot, but then his luck ran out as Dean Parrett’s long-range effort cannoned down off the bar and hit the prostrate Eastwood on the back before bouncing over the line.
The Dons didn’t take their foot off the accelerator, and shortly before the half hour took a deserved lead. Parrett swung in a corner and Kelly was left totally unmarked to head home from the penalty spot, his first goal since moving from St Mirren putting the Dons 2-1 ahead.
Although Chris Maguire produced a twisting run and shot that was only narrowly wide of Shea’s goal, it was all Wimbledon now. The most notable chance came as Parrett delivered a perfectly weighted ball into the box that found Taylor in space, but the striker took a poor first touch and Eastwood was able to adjust his positioning and turn Taylor’s eventual shot behind.
Wimbledon continued in much the same form in the second period, with Tom Elliott firing into the side netting when Parrett’s free-kick fell kindly to him after hitting the wall.
Despite their superiority, it took a fine Shea save to deny Oxford an equaliser in the 65th minute as the former Arsenal keeper dived spectacularly to get fingertips to a Ryan Taylor long-range effort that seemed destined for the back of the net.
Any jangling Wimbledon nerves should have been calmed Elliott burst onto a Jake Reeves through ball and shrugged off the attentions of Chey Dunkley. With the goal at his mercy, Elliott chose to square it to the unmarked Reeves but the midfielder opted not to shoot first time, allowing Eastwood to charge out to block.
And an even more gilt-edged chance was spurned with six minutes remaining when Barry Fuller’s cross was headed back by Dom Poleon, only for substitute Chris Whelpdale to head tamely into Eastwood’s grateful arms.
The win will give a boost to Ardley’s men after a mediocre festive period, especially ahead of the FA Cup third-round replay against Sutton United (Tuesday 17 January). The Dons then travel to Chesterfield (21 January) for league action before – if they beat Sutton – facing a home fourth-round tie against Leeds United on Sunday 29 January.
Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Charles, Robinson, Kelly, Parrett (Egan 81), Bulman, Reeves, Poleon, Elliott (Barnett 72), Taylor (Whelpdale 76). Subs not used: McDonnell, Gallagher, Owens, Robertson.
Goalscorers: Eastwood 12 (o.g.), Kelly 28.
Booked: Robinson 43, Poleon 91, Kelly 94.
Oxford: Eastwood, Edwards, Dunkley, Nelson, Johnson, MacDonald (Hemmings 56), Lundstram, Ledson (Sercombe 76), Hall, Maguire, Taylor (Rothwell 89). Subs not used: Skarz, Ruffels, Raglan, Stephens.
Goalscorer: Hall 6.
Booked: Taylor 25, Nelson 46, Johnson 74.
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January 14, 2017