Michael Smith’s double earned Wimbledon a deserved first away win of the season to maintain their early season challenge near the top of League 2.
Smith (pictured) made it four league goals so far since his loan switch from Charlton to enhance his growing reputation and the Dons were full value for a 2-0 win at Bootham Crescent. A solid defensive display, led by the returning pair of Alan Bennett and Andy Frampton, provided the platform for victory and there is a growing feeling of confidence among the Wimbledon ranks that they will always get the goals at the other end.
Neal Ardley made six changes to the Wimbledon side that started at Brentford on Tuesday with captain Bennett’s return perhaps the most significant. Bennett replaced Rhys Weston (hamstring) at the heart of Wimbledon’s back-line alongside the returning Frampton with Barry Fuller and Jim Fenlon making up the defence. A notable inclusion on the bench was Charlie Fayers, who made the first-team squad just four days after playing for the club’s Under-21 Development squad against the Bailey Academy.
An indication of the wholesale changes made by Neal Ardley since last season was that George Francomb was the only Wimbledon player to start who started in the 3-0 win at Bootham Crescent on 10 November, 2012.
There was almost a dream comeback for Bennett inside two minutes when he got on the end of Francomb’s corner, but his header was deflected into the hands of York goalkeeper Michael Ingham. The hosts had their first half chance when the ball fell nicely on the edge of the area for Sander Puri, but Ross Worner got down well to save comfortably. That had been a rare foray forward from York during an opening spell that saw Wimbledon enjoying most of the possession. The Dons almost found a cutting edge too when Harry Pell, who scored the winner against the same opponents in March, powered a 25-yarder just wide.
There had been little in the way of goalmouth incident by the midway point of the first-half, but Francomb curled a free-kick just over after a quick break instigated by George Porter. Wimbledon had been solid in defence during the first-half and they were celebrating just their second league away goal this season just after the half hour.
It was a goal simple in its execution, but certainly effective, with Frampton’s long ball out of defence giving Michael Smith something to chase and he held off two challenges before producing a deft lob over Ingham. Both sides were down to 10 men in the 35th minute after a clash of heads between Ryan Jarvis and Andy Frampton forced both players to go off for treatment, the York striker having already gone off earlier for 10 minutes.
Wimbledon could be well pleased with their first-half display as it had been a classic away performance so far with a defensive resilience and a breakaway goal too.
The match was interrupted for four minutes shortly into the second-half when Frampton had to have a bandage reapplied to his head. However, the experienced defender was straight back into the thick of the action by winning a clash with Jarvis. Wimbledon continued to be the more threatening after the break and Bennett had the ball back in the back of the net after getting his head to a Smith flick, but it was ruled out for offside.
Though there was little fluidity to York’s attacking in the second-half, they gradually started to push Wimbledon back with their direct approach. And it needed Frampton to make an excellent last-ditch block to deny a goal-bound shot from Jarvis. That had been a rare scare for Wimbledon and they doubled their advantage in the 72nd minute when Chris Arthur made an instant impression. Arthur, who had replaced George Porter just seconds earlier, beat Lanre Odebanjo to Jim Fenlon’s through ball and delivered a perfect pass that Smith steered home from close range.
It was the least that Wimbledon deserved for an impressive away performance. There was little to worry Wimbledon after that and this was as comfortable an away win as they are likely to get all season. It could have been 3-0 right in injury-time when Pell smashed against the crossbar with a stunning strike, but two was easily enough by that point.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner, Barry Fuller, Andy Frampton, Alan Bennett, George Francomb (Jack Midson), Sammy Moore, Michael Smith, Luke Moore, Chris Arthur, Jim Fenlon, George Porter (Chris Arthur).