Wimbledon 3 v York City 2
Battling Wimbledon twice overcame the disappointment of conceding an equaliser to claim a potentially crucial 3-2 win over fellow strugglers York City at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (9 March).
But it wasn’t until 11 minutes from time that midfielder Chris Pell got what turned out to be the winner, prompting a nerve-wracking conclusion to the game as the Dons clung on through five minutes of added-on time to bounce out of the relegation places.
Indeed, the Dons’ form in 2013 is such that they are now sitting sixth in the League Two form table. It’s a testament to the form of their fellow strugglers that they have remained so close to the relegation places.
Boss Neal Ardley told the club’s official website afterwards: ‘Fair play to the boys because they kept going and going. We have good characters in the dressing room now and that is something I felt we lacked earlier in the season.
‘I thought we were the most likely to win it, but I had to keep directing the boys to play the right way and take the emotion out of it.’
Emotion is something that was evident in abundance after Mat Mitchel-King scored the opener. The defender capped another assured display with a superb half-volley from inside the D to put the Dons ahead just after 20 minutes.
And as the crowd celebrated, the former Crewe man pointed to the heavens, dedicating the goal to his mother who passed away earlier this season.
The Dons had on-loan Charlton goalkeeper John Sullivan in goal, replacing his namesake Neil who has been recalled by Doncaster Rovers. And the youngster demonstrated his potential with some decisive claims and good distribution.
But he had no chance with York’s equaliser just shy of the half hour as, in typical Wimbledon fashion, the visitors were able to score from their first real attack of substance.
Sammy Moore allowed himself to be caught in possession midway in the Wimbledon half, and from that moment the Dons were on the back foot, with Ashley Chambers able to capitalise by crossing right onto the head of Chris Smith who unchallenged had time to carefully place his header to make it 1-1.
On-loan Brighton youngster Brennan Dickenson again impressed throughout with his deliveries from wide, and it was one of his crosses that almost restored the Dons’ lead just before half time, but Gary Alexander saw his glancing header bounce off first bar and then post without crossing the line.
Dickenson’s display was capped when he put the Dons back in the lead on the hour. Pim Balkestein’s ball into the danger area was touched on by Jack Midson and Dickenson kept his cool to nip in and round goalkeeper Michael Ingham before slotting home.
Unfortunately Dickenson was soon forced off with a tight hamstring, and with his departure Wimbledon lost some of their attacking verve.
And they were again pegged back when Chris Smith got his second of the game in the 72nd minute, again left alone to head the ball home following a whipped-in free kick from the right-hand channel.
A month or so ago, Wimbledon might have collapsed following that setback, but their new-found vigour shone through. And they got the winner that their overall performance deserved when Harry Pell twisted astutely in midair to place home a side-footed volley following a half-cleared Sammy Moore corner.
With fellow strugglers Torquay, Accrington Stanley and Plymouth all losing, the Dons bounce up to 21st in the table, with just one point separating them from 18th-placed Barnet.
The Dons travel to Roots Hall on Tuesday (12 March) before another important journey to 20th-placed Aldershot next Saturday (16 March).
Wimbledon: Sullivan, Mitchel-King, Bennett, Balkestein, Meades, Yussuff (Darko 80), S. Moore, Pell, Midson, Dickenson (Sainte-Luce 67), Alexander. Subs not used: Jaimez-Ruiz, Cummings, Long, L. Moore, Strutton.
Goalscorers: Mitchel-King 21, Dickenson 60, Pell 79.
Booked: Pell 69, S. Moore 90.
York: Ingham, Fyfield, Smith, O’Connell, Parslow, McLaughlin (Rodman 66), Kerr, McGrath, Blair (Walker 66), Chambers, Rankine. Subs not used: Jameson, Bullock, McDaid, Potts, Doig.
Goalscorer: Smith 29, 72.
Booked: Chambers 84, Rodman 85.
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March 9, 2013