AFC Wimbledon 3 v 1 Rotherham United
AFC Wimbledon finally found form on Tuesday night (17 October) as Lyle Taylor hit a hat-trick to sink promotion chasers Rotherham United 3-1 at Kingsmeadow.
It was just reward for Taylor who has endured plenty of recent matches being played wide on the right rather than in a central role and hadn’t scored in 21 matches since March. But the match also saw a starring role for attacking midfielder Harry Forrester. Boss Neal Ardley struck with the 4-2-3-1 formation that had earned a win at Northampton, and Forrester revelled in the freedom of a central attacking midfield role.
Forrester was involved in the first goal, chasing back to regain possession in his own half. Tom Soares fed Andy Barcham who slid the ball between the Rotherham defence for Taylor to run onto before lifting the ball over the advancing goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell to put the Dons 1-0 ahead.
Wimbledon almost scored an immediate second but Rotherham’s Kieffer Moore was on the line to bravely head clear. And shortly before the break O’Donnell was on hand to thwart Forrester with a save as the Dons continued to threaten.
The visitors displayed more purpose after the break, forcing keeper George Long into a number of good saves, including from Anthony Forde’s angled drive following a strong run, but it was Forrester who came closest to the next goal. Picking up the ball on the edge of the area, the midfielder produced a delicate chip that had O’Donnell frantically backpedalling before doing just enough to get his fingertips onto the effort and deflect it onto the bar.
Rotherham got back into the match in the 70th minute with a peach of a goal. The Dons failed to clear their lines following a deep free-kick and eventually the ball headed invitingly for Joe Newell on the edge of the box. The midfielder waited patiently for it to fall towards ground before unleashing a fierce volley across Long and into the back of the net.
But Wimbledon didn’t buckle and continued to press, and got their reward with five minutes remaining. Forrester won the ball on the halfway line and fed Taylor who ran unchallenged towards the box. As Liam Trotter produced a run to pull a defender, Taylor capitalised by curling a shot into the corner of the net and put the Dons 2-1 ahead.
It wasn’t over. Into injury time Taylor got his hat-trick, again racing onto a hopeful ball over the top. Although his initial effort was blocked by O’Donnell, Taylor remained calm and wafted the outside of his boot at the ball to casually trickle it beyond a defender on the line and into the side netting.
Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Nightingale, Charles, Francomb, Forrester (Robinson 89), Soares, Trotter, Kaja (Abdou 78), Taylor, Barcham. Subs not used: Oshilaja, McDonald, Kennedy, McDonnell, Hartigan.
Goalscorer: Taylor 15, 85, 92.
Rotherham: O’Donnell, Cummings (Yates 90), Ihiekwe, Wood, Mattock (Ajayi 89), R. Williams (Newell 58), Vaulks, Towell, Forde, Ball, Moore. Subs not used: Emmanuel, Rodák, Clarke-Harris, Wiles.
Goalscorer: Newell 70.
Booked: Forde 76, Ball 78.
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October 23, 2017