AFC Wimbledon 2 v Oxford United 1
A half-time reorganisation propelled AFC Wimbledon towards a much-needed relegation boost as they beat Oxford United 2-1 at Kingsmeadow on Saturday 10 March.
The visitors were on the front foot as soon as the whistle blew, with Ryan Ledson trying an audacious effort from halfway after just 11 seconds that was only narrowly off target. And just minutes later Barry Fuller was forced into a goal-line clearance from Isaac Buckley-Ricketts’ effort as the Dons struggled to cope with Oxford’s formation and endeavour.
But Wimbledon started to come into it around the quarter hour as Lyle Taylor curled an effort narrowly off target and then Cody McDonald fired into the side netting.
It took a slice of luck for Wimbledon to take the lead as Todd Kane slipped in the box and Harry Forrester fell over his prostrate body. Taylor, though, wasn’t in a charitable mood and converted the penalty with aplomb.
The lead, though, didn’t last for long. Wimbledon repeatedly made a hash of winning the ball in midfield before Buckley-Ricketts picked up possession and fired in a long-range effort that Long spilled, the rebound falling kindly for Kane who converted to make it 1-1.
Wimbledon adapted at half time, switching from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 and, although goalscoring chances were still at a premium, the Dons at last started to look a bit more comfortable. Nevertheless, the visitors could have taken the lead when Deji Oshilaja made a mistake, but substitute Wes Thomas fired straight at Long.
And with just shy of 20 minutes remaining the Dons took advantage. Taylor swung in a free-kick that found its way through to Jon Meades at the far post. For some inexplicable reason Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood did a swan dive at Meades’ feet that more closely resembled the theatricals of a clown than a professional goalkeeper. With Eastwood having taken himself out of the equation, Meades’ bobbling shot somehow found its way into the back of the net to prompt massed celebrations.
‘It was hard work, graft, and probably a little bit of luck at some point with the decisions and the goals,’ manager Neal Ardley told the club’s iFollow Dons channel afterwards, ‘but I thought we defended well, particularly in the second-half when we changed our shape slightly.
‘I have a group of players who really care and it is just trying to get the anxiety and stress out of them because they want to do it so much. We want to try and take the situation that they face in the next 10 games away from them and get them to play football to the best of their abilities.’
The Dons travel to in-form relegation strugglers Rochdale on Saturday 17 March, with a trip to Shrewsbury the following weekend, then a Good Friday hosting of Fleetwood Town and an Easter Monday trip to Doncaster.
Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Charles, Oshilaja, Francomb, Forrester (Soares 87), Abdou, Trotter, Barcham (Meades 45), McDonald (Pigott 45), Taylor. Subs not used: Nightingale, Parrett, Kaja, McDonnell.
Goalscorers: Taylor 32 (pen), Meades 71.
Booked: Forrester 61.
Oxford: Eastwood, Kane, Dickie, Mousinho, Smith-Brown, Ledson, Ruffels, Buckley-Ricketts (van Kessel 63), Brannagan, Ferreira da Silva (Henry 81), Obika (Thomas 63). Subs not used: Martin, Shearer, Mowatt, Napa,
Goalscorer: Kane 38.
Booked: Thomas 88, Brannagan 93
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March 16, 2018