Debut Boys Give Dons A Boost

Wimbledon 2 v Accrington 1

Wimbledon finally earned their first ever win against bogey side Accrington Stanley on Saturday (24 January) as goals from Sean Rigg and Adebayo Azeez saw them to a 2-1 victory.

The Dons had failed to win any of the previous seven encounters between the two sides, picking up just a solitary point in the process.

‘Today was massive for us,’ boss Neal Ardley told the club’s Dons Player service after the game. ‘All victories are important, but after [defeats against] Stevenage and Carlisle I looked at this match and felt that we desperately needed a win.’

And Ardley also praised young centre-back Will Nightingale, who impressed at centre-back after being handed his full debut in place of injured Jake Goodman.

‘I had to trust that Will would be ready and that he would come in and produce a good performance. I thought he was brilliant.’

The Dons started this encounter on the front foot, with young debutant Craig Tanner, signed on loan from Reading, impressing up front with his dynamic running. Tanner created the opening chance for the Dons, setting up Rigg, but the latter’s effort was deflected wide.

And the Dons went even closer when Adebayo Akinfenwa laid the ball back to Dannie Bulman whose rasping shot from outside the penalty area left the woodwork shaking as it rebounded away from goal.

Tanner continued to be involved in the action, fashioning a chance for George Francomb as well as shooting over the bar himself, so it was no surprise when the youngster was involved in Wimbledon’s opener in the 38th minute.

Tanner worked to create space for himself and produced a shot that Matt Macey in the Stanley goal could only palm away, straight into the path of Rigg who from a narrow angle fired into the back of the net to put the hosts 1-0 ahead.

The Dons went into the half-time break enjoying that slender lead, although Tanner could have doubled it himself before the interval.

At the other end, Accrington Stanley offered little in the way of direct threat until out of nothing Anthony Barry unleashed a long-range effort that hit the post with James Shea well beaten.

Perhaps with that let-off in mind, Ardley chose to refresh his forward line by bringing off Akinfenwa and Tanner, replacing them with the youth of Azeez and the experience of veteran David Connolly.

That paid dividends when Francomb regained possession deep in the Accrington half and slid the ball to Azeez, who thumped it home from the edge of the goal area to give the Dons a 2-0 cushion with 12 minutes remaining.

And they needed it as, with just minutes remaining, the visitors scrambled a goal back. Kal Naismith’s cross fell between Shea and Adam Buxton, and unfortunately for the Dons Buxton’s toes got there first to prod the ball over the line to give their team a glimmer of hope.

But it was too little, too late as the Dons held on to cement themselves into a firm mid-table position, 10 points above relegation and 10 points off a play-off place.

Next week (31 January) they make the long trip to Morecambe, before hosting the multitude of former Wimbledon players currently earning a living with Newport County the following weekend.

Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Reeves, Nightingale, Kennedy, Oshilaja, Bulman, Francomb, Rigg (Moore 81), Akinfenwa (Connolly 73), Tanner (Azeez 73). Subs not used: Pell, McDonnell, Sweeney, Potter.

Goalscorers: Rigg 37, Azeez 78.

Accrington Stanley: Macey, Atkinson, Aldred, Winnard, Liddle, Barry (Buxton 79), Procter (Windass 63), Joyce, Naismith, McCartan, Maguire (Gray 60). Subs not used: Mingoia, Hunt, Dawber, Conneely.

Goalscorer: Buxton 88.

Att: 3,859

By Rob Crane

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January 26, 2015