Wimbledon 1 v Wycombe 0
Wimbledon produced arguably their best all-round performance since returning to the Football League on Saturday (10 August) as they beat 10-men Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 at Kingsmeadow.
The only concern for Dons manager Neal Ardley might be that, despite dominating for long periods, his side failed to come away with more than a single-goal winning margin, that courtesy of Luke Moore’s headed effort just before half time.
‘It is a horrible scoreline when you’re 1-0 up against 10 men and there is always an element of nerves when you are defending that lead,’ Ardley told the club’s official website afterwards.
‘But we got there in the end and we could have added another goal during the latter stages. We saw it out with a professional performance.’
It is difficult to find fault with that assessment as Wimbledon players rarely put a foot wrong during an impressive performance, with Callum Kennedy and George Porter in particular posing endless problems for the Wycombe defence with their wide play.
Porter could have put the Dons ahead after just seven minutes as the home side pushed forward from the off. It was the on-loan Burnley man who connected with Luke Moore’s ball in from the left, but his powerful effort was matched by Wycombe keeper Matt Ingram.
Kennedy was next in on the act, delivering a cross that Porter nudged on for Michael Smith, but the big striker saw his effort blocked by Leon Johnson as the visitors continued on the back foot.
But perhaps Porter should have done better with his next opportunity after cutting in from the right and delivering a powerful shot from a narrow angle that whizzed across the goal, with the Dons management team on the bench seemingly frustrated that he declined the opportunity to cross to colleagues in the centre.
Wycombe’s hopes of getting to grips with the game suffered a huge blow in the 36th minute when referee Gavin Ward penalised their skipper, Stuart Lewis, for a forceful lunge on Porter. Ward had no hesitation reaching for a red card to reduce the visitors to 10 men.
And minutes later the Dons were ahead. Some neat approach play fed Kennedy wide on the left and his cross into the near post area was cleverly guided home by Luke Moore, using his head to beat Ingram and put the Dons 1-0 up.
But, as is so often the way, the 10 men rallied and following a half-time reorganisation started to get into the game. It took some resolute defending by the Dons, in particular by central defensive pairing Alan Bennett and Andy Frampton, ably assisted by Peter Sweeney in front of them, to repulse Wycombe’s efforts.
Bennett had to be particularly alert to deny Jon-Paul Pittman an opportunity and it was Sweeney who blocked a Matt Spring effort, while Pittman also fired wide when through on goal.
But it was the Dons who finished on the font foot, in particular following the late introduction of late substitutes Charlie Sheringham, Chris Arthur and George Francomb.
Francomb failed to capitalise after Smith burst through the defence, blasting his effort against the bar from a narrow angle when Sheringham was poised in the centre.
And moments later it was Arthur’s turn to hit the woodwork with an audacious outside-of-the-foot effort that curled towards the far corner of the goal but didn’t quite dip enough to nestle in the back of the net.
Wimbledon fans will be hoping that they can build on this impressive display when they visit Exeter City next weekend (17 August) before entertaining newly relegated Scunthorpe on 24 August.
Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Frampton, Bennett, Kennedy, Porter (Arthur 81), Pell, L. Moore (Francomb 90), Sweeney, Midson (Sheringham 74), Smith. Subs not used: Weston, S. Moore, Fenlon, Brown.
Goalscorer: L. Moore 37.
Wycombe: Ingram, McCoy, Stewart, Johnson, Dunne, Cowan-Hall, Scowen, Lewis, Wood (Spring 46), Morgan (Kuffour 71), Pittman (Craig 71). Subs not used: Horlock, Hause, Kretzschmar, Arnold.
Booked: Morgan 57.
Sent off: Lewis 34.
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August 11, 2013