Wimbledon 1 v Rushden & Diamonds 0
Wimbledon bounced back after three defeats in a row to beat Rushden & Diamonds 1-0 at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (26 March) and give their play-off hopes a welcome boost.
The Dons were boosted by the return from injury of Sam Hatton at right-back, and by a debut for striker Kaid Mohamed, signed from Bath City. Ricky Wellard also returned to the starting line-up following a loan spell at Cambridge United.
But, after dominating the first half, the Dons ended up reverting to recent form and hanging on for what was a morale-boosting victory.
The visitors had the two best early chances – Matt Johnson heading over and Alan Power firing wide of the goal – but it was the Dons who were looking most comfortable.
Rushden goalkeeper Joe Day was almost caught out by an inswinging Sam Hatton corner, which the custodian had to punch clear from underneath the bar, but it was just a short while later before the Dons took the lead.
Rashid Yussuff – again impressive in midfield – played in Mohamed but the debutant was shoved over in the box by a visiting defender, leaving the referee with little choice other than to point to the spot. Danny Kedwell – back in the side after missing the Crawley defeat through illness – duly blasted home from the spot for his 21st goal of the season.
Minutes later Yussuff was again involved but, with the ball bouncing badly, he failed to either get in a shot on target or find the unmarked Mohamed across the face of the goal.
But the Dons' nerves seemed to return in the second period as the visitors came back into the game, with Seb Brown saving a Max Porter free-kick. Substitute Luke Moore came close to setting up Mohamed and Yussuff before Kedwell saw a weak effort saved.
But the Dons spent the majority of the closing minutes camped in their own penalty area, desperately defending as they sought to preserve their advantage. On the one occasion that they were beaten, Shane Huke’s effort came back off the woodwork.
The win keeps the Dons in second place as they go into next Saturday’s home game against Barrow at Kingsmeadow (2 April).
Wimbledon: Brown, Hatton, Gwillim, Gregory, Johnson, Yakubu, Wellard, Yussuff (Minshull 88), Kedwell (Broughton 83), Mohamed, Jackson (L. Moore 67). Subs not used: Kudson, Turner.
Goalscorer: Kedwell 29.
Booked: Luke Moore 76.
Rushden & Diamonds: Joe Day, Oshodi (Miller 46), Porter, Mills, Jamie Day, Power (Keehan 82), Corcoran, Johnson (Farrell 79), Charles, Huke, Gash. Subs not used; Evans, Shariff.
Booked: Johnson 23, Corcoran 27.
Referee: Warren Atkin (West Sussex).
March 28, 2011