A brilliant winner from Jack Midson provided a third successive Wimbledon victory for the first time this season and earned a crucial victory at Aldershot.
Midson struck in the 72nd minute with an audacious chip to clinch a 1-0 win for the Dons that also dealt a blow to Aldershot’s hopes of staying in League 2. While Wimbledon were far from at their best, the Dons showed the necessary fight to repel Aldershot pressure and showed how far they have come in recent weeks by snatching a late winner. It also rewarded the 1,191 Dons supporters that made the trip and they watched their side move closer to the 50-points mark that Neal Ardley believes will be enough for survival.
Midson was rewarded for his goal at Southend with a starting berth at Aldershot this afternoon as one of three changes made by Neal Ardley. Chris Hussey and Rashid Yussuff were also restored to the side. The injured Pim Balkestein missed out completely with Kevin Sainte-Luce and Kelly Youga having to settle for places on the bench. The changes meant that Wimbledon reverted to the 4-3-3 formation that had served them well on occasions this season.
In an opening spell that bore all the hallmarks of a tight survival scrap on a tricky playing surface both sides struggled to put together any moves of significance. However, Wimbledon were extremely fortunate not to be behind in the 12th minute. Wimbledon goalkeeper John Sullivan got down well to parry a fierce effort from Lionel Ainsworth and Craig Reid was left with a completely open goal from the rebound, but he scuffed his shot wide from close-range. The Dons gradually started to gain good possession as the first-half progressed, but too often the final ball was lacked, most notably when Chris Hussey’s free-kick from a promising area sailed over the crossbar.
When Aldershot did offer fleeting moments of threat, Wimbledon defended resolutely to defy the hosts an opener. Jonathan Meades got in a last-ditch block to deny a goal-bound effort from Ainsworth, who also had another shot deflected just over. However, the pressure started to build from Aldershot as the first-half drew to a conclusion and Wimbledon’s defence was forced back for long spells.
From a defensive perspective, Wimbledon had done all that was required of them during the first-half, but there was a lack of cutting edge in attack. The best move from the visitors came in first-half injury-time when Meades found Midson in space, but Alexander failed to get a proper connection on his strike partner’s cross.
Wimbledon made a half-time change with Brennan Dickenson withdrawn and Kevin Sainte-Luce entering the fray. Sainte-Luce wasted no time making an impression and a trademark run down the right from the Frenchman ended with a teasing cross that just missed everyone in the box. The visitors certainly started the second-half with more purpose thanks to Sainte-Luce’s introduction as they penned Aldershot back, but they found it tough to break Aldershot down. When Wimbledon did have men over in attack, Midson’s final ball lacked the accuracy to pick out Sainte-Luce’s run.
After threatening to take control after the interval, Wimbledon were twice fortunate to survive in quick succession. First, Ainsworth struck against a post with a venomous drive and then Sullivan had to get down well to deny Asa Hall. With Aldershot now clearly having the momentum and Wimbledon struggling to hang on, Neal Ardley decided to make another change with Jesse Darko replacing Gary Alexander.
The decision to withdraw Alexander and not his strike partner Midson proved to be the right one when Wimbledon’s top scorer broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute. Harry Pell provided the spark as he finally forced a save from Aldershot goalkeeper Jamie Young, but Aldershot defender Aaron Morris produced a poor clearance that bounced off Sainte-Luce and straight into the path of Midson. The Wimbledon striker still had a lot of work to do, but he looked up and produced a delicate chip that found the top corner in superb fashion.
The hosts never looked like recovering from Midson’s 12th goal of the season and Wimbledon cruised to all three points with the minimum of fuss.
AFC Wimbledon: John Sullivan, Jonathan Meades, Chris Hussey, Sammy Moore, Alan Bennett, Mat Mitchel-King, Rashid Yussuff (Luke Moore), Harry Pell, Gary Alexander (Jesse Darko), Jack Midson, Brennan Dickenson.