A superb Sammy Moore strike provided the perfect tonic for Simon Bassey this afternoon and lifted the Dons to a first win since the opening day of the season.
With Simon Bassey as caretaker manager, The Dons were simply transformed at Adams Park against a Wycombe side lacking in confidence and Sammy Moore’s excellent volley provided a deserved 1-0 victory.
All the pre-match build-up at Adams Park centred on the 125th anniversary of Wycombe Wanderers with club legends presented to the crowd beforehand and the home faithful getting into the mood to lift their struggling side. However, the Dons travelling support packed into the away end and made plenty of noise themselves in eager anticipation of the dawn of a new era after the departures of Terry Brown and Stuart Cash. The former Dons management pair were in the crowd watching though to show their support for Simon Bassey and Terry acknowledged the cries of the Wimbledon supporters for a wave from the stands.
Simon Bassey made four changes from the side that started against Torquay on Tuesday night with young full-backs Jim Fenlon and George Francomb both restored to the side in place of Warren Cummings and Pim Balkestein respectively. The Dons made a swift start and they were nearly rewarded when Luke Moore sent over a teasing cross from the left that Rashid Yussuff headed just wide of the far post. Wycombe did respond though and there was a let-off for the visitors when good approach play from Jo Kuffour put Richard Logan through, but the striker dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Wimbledon were so fortunate to survive in the 25th minute when Gareth Ainsworth’s header from a corner was saved by Seb Brown and after a goalmouth scramble, Jim Fenlon came to his side’s rescue by clearing off the line. The Dons looked bright in the first-half with Stacy Long often at the heart of their best moves and he came close on the half hour with a powerful drive from 25 yards that Wycombe goalkeeper Elliot Parish just managed to tip over the crossbar. The visitors missed a golden opportunity in the 35th minute when Byron Harrison missed a penalty. The in-form striker won it himself with a shot that Stuart Lewis handled in the box, but Harrison’s subsequent spot-kick was turned away by Parish. Long was having a growing influence on the match and he produced a fine run and shot that had Parish scrambling to his near post to make another fine save.
At this stage, the watching Terry Brown would perhaps have been wondering if this was the same side that ended his reign with a defeat on Tuesday night against Torquay. But there was better to come five minutes before half-time when the Dons deservedly grabbed the lead in style through Sammy Moore. Our stand-in skipper latched onto the ball 25 yards out and produced a fierce drive that left Parish with no chance as it found the back of the net via the crossbar. The subsequent celebrations summed up the camaraderie between the players and Simon Bassey as Sammy ran straight to the Wimbledon bench after putting the Dons 1-0 up.
Simon Bassey was forced into a half-time change at the break with Stacy Long, who passed a late fitness test to feature in the match, having to go off injured and he was replaced by Frankie Merrifield.
Wycombe did improve after the break, but Will Antwi and Dale Bennett were in outstanding form at the back as they formed a great understanding in their first match together at the heart of the Dons defence. In fact, the Dons looked very comfortable during the second-half, their midfield keeping good possession to relieve the pressure and Seb Brown was largely untroubled in goal. There was little from an attacking sense from the visitors during the second-half with only a goal-bound Steven Gregory free-kick threatening to build on their half-time lead, but his shot was deflected and ended up being an easy save for Parish. However, with Wycombe bereft of confidence, one goal looked like being enough for the Dons as they continued to keep the ball for long spells.
It needed a superb last-ditch challenge from George Francomb to deny Wycombe near the end, but Byron Harrison was denied by Elliot Parish in a frantic finale that also saw substitute Huw Johnson strike just wide. The Dons did need Seb Brown to stop an Olly Taylor header in injury-time, but a draw would have been undeserved for Wycombe as Simon Bassey started with a win.
AFC Wimbledon: Seb Brown, Dale Bennett, George Francomb, Will Antwi, Jim Fenlon, Rashid Yussuff (Huw Johnson), Stacy Long (Frankie Merrifield), Steven Gregory, Sammy Moore, Byron Harrison, Luke Moore (Charlie Strutton).