Patient Dons Chalk Up Port Vale Win

Wimbledon 4 v Port Vale 0

Wimbledon had to wait until the second half for the goals their domination deserved as they beat Port Vale 4-0 at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (17 December).

The two sides went in goalless at the interval after numerous first-half saves by visiting keeper Jak Alnwick to keep his side in the match, but it all changed as soon as the Dons made the breakthrough eight minutes after half-time.

That’s when quick-fire goals by Dom Poleon and Tom Elliott set the Dons on course to a victory later cemented by further goals from Tyrone Barnett and a first in Wimbledon colours by Chris Robertson.

Apart from a brief flurry at the start of the match, Vale offered little to threaten the home goal. But they could easily have taken the lead in that early period, with the Dons scrambling a Rigino Cicilia effort behind and then Barry Fuller clearing Alex Jones’ effort off the line following the subsequent corner.

But the focus soon fell on the Dons’ three-man attack as they exerted their influence on the match, with Elliott and Poleon combining to set up an effort for Lyle Taylor that Alnwick did well to block at the near post.

Alnwick was soon called into action again, extending to full reach to palm over a Poleon effort that was threatening to dip underneath the bar following neat approach play by the forward on the edge of the area.

And again before the break Vale’s keeper was in fine form to deny Robertson a headed goal following Elliott’s flick-on from a George Francomb corner.

The breakthrough finally came in the 54th minute. There seemed little threat as Taylor was shepherded towards the corner of the pitch but the striker displayed great awareness to feed a forward burst by Sean Kelly and the young left-back’s driven cross was converted from close range by Poleon.

And minutes later it was 2-0 as Dean Parrett’s corner was dropped right onto the head of Elliott towards the centre of the goal and the big man powered his header into the back of the net.

Shea then helped prevent any prospect of a Vale comeback by spectacularly turning a Nathan Smith shot onto the crossbar, the Wimbledon keeper deserving his slice of luck as the ball fell down onto his back as he scrambled to regain his footing before plopping into his grateful arms.

Now the visitors were reduced to chasing shadows, with a number of clumsy challenges that led to bookings and the eventual withdrawal of Elliott, with Barnett coming on to replace him and Andy Barcham also returning from injury to replace Poleon.

But the Wimbledon forward momentum continued and it was no more than they deserved when they got a third. There seemed little threat as Taylor broke down the right, with five Vale defenders and Barnett the only outfield players accompanying him in the half. But a drop of the shoulder and a burst of pace facilitated a low ball in to Barnett’s feet who, despite having his back to goal, used his strength to hold off his marker before swivelling to shoot home.

Barcham shot narrowly off target but the fourth came with the minutes evaporating, as another Parrett corner was met by a glancing Robertson header at the near post that left Alnwick beaten, Robertson chalking up his first goal since moving from Ross County earlier this season.

The extent of Wimbledon’s dominance throughout the match was revealed by the final match statistics, which showed 27 shots by the Dons and 14 corners.

Boss Neal Ardley will be hoping for a similarly confident display when they visit Southend United on Boxing Day (1pm kick off) and Bristol Rovers on New Year’s Eve (3pm), before hosting Millwall on 2 January (1pm).

Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Kelly, Robinson, Robertson, Francomb (Parrett 38), Reeves, Bulman, Poleon (Barcham 73), Elliott (Barnett 80), Taylor. Subs not used: Beere, McDonnell, Egan, Owens.

Goalscorers: Poleon 53, Elliott 58, Barnett 85, Robertson 89.

Booked: Francomb 16, Parrett 66.

Port Vale: Alnwick, Taylor, Streete, Smith, Geraldo Rosa, Amoros (Hart 76), de Freitas, Tavares (Pereira 59), Kelly, Jones, Cicilia. Subs not used: Knops, Mac-Intosch, Paterson, Mbamba, Santos.

Booked: Amoros 18, Streete 60, de Freitas 81, Kelly 82.

Att: 4,291.

By Rob Crane

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December 19, 2016