Wimbledon marched seven points clear of the relegation zone today with two goals in seven minutes before the break brushing aside Morecambe.
Kevin Sainte-Luce (pictured) and a Jack Midson penalty earned a comfortable 2-0 win and moved the Dons up to the dizzy heights of 16th with the combination of postponements and other results going for them.
In what was a tribute to the hard work of volunteers and ground staff in getting the match on, Wimbledon recovered from a rocky start against Morecambe to earn their fourth win in six games so far during March.
Neal Ardley made three changes to Wimbledon’s starting line-up with the most significant being a return for Will Antwi after over two months out. Antwi, who had not played since Wycombe Wanderers on 12 January, came straight back in due to Kelly Youga’s international commitments, the other changes involving returns for Jack Midson and Rashid Yussuff in place of Sammy Moore and Stacy Long.
With the match having only being given the go-ahead after a 12 noon pitch inspection, it was hardly a surprise that neither side mustered a meaningful attack in the first 20 minutes. The two sides were struggling to get any passing moves together on the heavy surface, but Wimbledon did test Morecambe goalkeeper Barry Roche for the first time in the 22nd minute. Luke Moore sent over a teasing cross and Alan Bennett met the ball with a header that Roche could only parry, but the ball was cleared to safety. That brought a spirited response from the visitors and they twice came close to taking the lead before the half hour mark. First, Andrew Fleming squandered a great chance when he dragged wide from close-range after he was set-up by Chris McCready. Then a combination of Wimbledon goalkeeper John Sullivan and Bennett foiled Jack Redshaw after he had sprung the offside trap.
Wimbledon had been forced back into their own half for long spells of the first 30 minutes and their best chance of making an impression appeared to be from set-pieces. Chris Hussey picked out Midson with a long and searching free-kick, but the striker headed straight into the grateful arms of Roche. However, the Wimbledon faithful never had to wait too much longer for the opener with Kevin Sainte-Luce notching his second goal for the club in great style. Rashid Yussuff started a sweeping move with a defence-splitting pass to pick out Gary Alexander and his cross was steered home at the back post by Sainte-Luce. It got even better for Wimbledon five minutes later when they doubled their advantage through a Midson penalty after Morecambe had contributed to their own downfall. It all started when Robbie Threlfall was adjudged to have intentionally passed the ball back to Roche after intercepting Chris Hussey’s cross. Then Chris McCready handled Alexander’s fiercely struck free-kick and Midson made no mistake from 12 yards with the subsequent penalty.
Wimbledon made a half-time change with Sainte-Luce departing and he was replaced by Stacy Long. The Dons were almost celebrating the cushion of a third goal five minutes after the break when Antwi’s towering header from a Chris Hussey corner was cleared off the line by Fleming.
As the game approached the hour mark, Wimbledon were cruising with Morecambe never really threatening to get back into it. Neal Ardley decided to inject more pace into the attack with Sainte-Luce having departed when he sent on Jesse Darko in place of Alexander, who could be well pleased with his contribution on the day. Harry Pell then made an ambitious attempt to claim his third Wimbledon goal with a 25-yarder, but it was a good effort and Roche parried the ball to safety.
In truth, the second-half was a bit of a non-event as Morecambe – already effectively safe – failed to make a game of it. That will matter little to Neal Ardley and his players with their brilliant form during March having moved the Dons close to survival.
AFC Wimbledon: John Sullivan, Mat Mitchel-King, Chris Hussey, Rashid Yussuff, Alan Bennett, Will Antwi, Kevin Sainte-Luce (Stacy Long), Harry Pell, Gary Alexander (Jesse Darko), Jack Midson, Luke Moore.