A rare headed goal from Luke Moore got Wimbledon’s home league campaign off to a flying start at the Cherry Red Records Stadium today.
Luke continued his bright start to the season with his glancing header earning a 1-0 win against a Wycombe side that played for 54 minutes with 10 men after their captain Stuart Lewis was dismissed.
Despite having that advantage, it failed to take the shine off Wimbledon’s encouraging start to 2013/14 as they made it four points out of six from the first two games.
Neal Ardley decided to pair Jack Midson and Michael Smith together up front for the first time as part of an attacking line-up that highlighted Wimbledon’s determination to start their home campaign with a bang. Luke Moore was also restored to the starting 11 after his goal at Millwall with Sammy Moore having to settle for a place on the bench.
Wimbledon started on the front foot as they looked to enforce a high tempo approach that their manager had called for in the build-up. They were so nearly in front in just the seventh minute when Luke Moore’s teasing cross from the left found George Porter on the far post and he struck a powerful effort that produced a flying save from Wycombe goalkeeper Matt Ingram. Porter made a particularly impressive start on his home debut and he was at the heart of Wimbledon’s fine moves early on. One marauding run from Porter ended with a pass that set Barry Fuller free and his cross was just cut out before a Wimbledon player could get on the end of it.
There was only one team showing attacking intent during the early stages and only resolute defending from the visitors stopped Wimbledon making a breakthrough. The football on show from Wimbledon was easy on the eye too, particularly when Callum Kennedy swung over a superb cross that Porter touched on for Smith, but the striker’s effort was admirably blocked by Wycombe defender Leon Johnson. Porter was giving Wycombe left-back Charles Dunne a torrid time early on and another excellent run from the youngster ended with a powerful shot across the face of the goal from an acute angle.
Wycombe had failed to fire as an attacking force in the first-half and it was not until the half hour mark when they had their first meaningful effort on goal. A searching ball from Paris Cowan-Hall picked out Dean Morgan on the far side and the striker set-up a shooting opportunity for himself by getting the better of Alan Bennett, but he shot just over.
Though Wimbledon had been well on top in the first-half, they were given a huge helping hand in the 36th minute when referee Gavin Ward sent-off Wycombe captain Stuart Lewis after a clash with Porter. Barely a minute later and Wimbledon were celebrating their first goal of the season at the Cherry Red Records Stadium. It was a fine goal too as Kennedy swept over another teasing cross from the left and this time his delivery got the finish it deserved when Luke Moore headed home emphatically. There was a warning shot for Wimbledon that they were not home and hosed yet though when Ross Worner was forced into a flying save to deny Jon-Paul Pittman.
Now playing towards the newly named EcoHouse End, Wimbledon started the second-half with a determination to double their advantage and they forced a decent save from Ingram when he held onto Andy Frampton’s snapshot. However, Wycombe refused to lie down with one man less and it needed a fine interception from Wimbledon captain Bennett to stop Cowan-Hall getting in. Indeed, Wycombe started to turn the screw around the hour mark and Wimbledon were forced into a sustained spell of defending for the first time. But they continued to defend resolutely and midfielder Peter Sweeney got in a crucial block to deny a goal-bound effort from Wycombe substitute Matt Spring. Then there was a particularly worrying moment for Wimbledon when Pittman powered through the Wycombe defence, but he dragged his shot wide of the target.
Neal Ardley made a change with 15 minutes to go when Charlie Sheringham came on for his home debut in place of Midson. Chris Arthur was also introduced for Porter with eight minutes to go and his impact did spark the Dons once again. His energetic running put Wimbledon on the front foot again and the hosts forced another save from Ingram when he reacted well to save Frampton’s header.
Smith was twice denied by Ingram at the death and Arthur also fired against the crossbar.
Though Wimbledon failed to add to their tally, they were never really threatened by the visitors and Neal Ardley’s men appear to have a defensive solidity this season that should serve them well during 2013/14.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner, Barry Fuller, Callum Kennedy, Peter Sweeney, Alan Bennett, Andy Frampton, George Porter (Chris Arthur), Harry Pell, Michael Smith, Jack Midson (Charlie Sheringham), Luke Moore (George Francomb).