Bayo Akinfenwa was Wimbledon’s hero once again as he earned a second successive home victory for the Dons.
Akinfenwa headed home emphatically in the 27th minute to complete a fine week for him and Wimbledon that moved them up towards the play-off positions. It provided a rare 1-0 home win for Wimbledon – their first since the opening home game of 2013/14 – but they were full value for it and showed a tenacity and resilience that was perhaps lacking last season.
With Wimbledon having performed so well against the League 2 leaders on Tuesday night, it was no surprise that manager Neal Ardley made only one enforced change. Ade Azeez was given the nod to make his first league start for the Dons with Matt Tubbs suspended.
Experienced defender Adam Barrett had called for the Dons to show the same intensity in their play that proved so successful against Burton and Wimbledon certainly came out of the blocks quickly. Bayo Akinfenwa, who was so impressive on Tuesday, was at the heart of it straight away as he tormented the Morecambe defence. First, his excellent hold-up play created space on the edge of the area and Dannie Bulman forced Morecambe goalkeeper Barry Roche to make his first save.
Akinfenwa provided a platform for all of Wimbledon’s early threat, but he also came close to breaking the deadlock himself when he volleyed wide. Two other chances came Wimbledon’s way in the first 20 minutes. A lovely move down the left ended with Sean Rigg’s cross finding George Francomb at the back post, but it was an acute angle and he was unable to get his shot on target. An even better chance came after a short corner with Rigg sending over a teasing cross that found Bennett in space just eight yards out, but he headed over.
Despite Wimbledon holding the upper hand early on, Morecambe showed their threat on the break. Padraig Amond shot straight at James Shea from close range and Kevin Ellison started a move that ended with Morecambe appeals for handball in the area, but referee Darren Drysdale was unimpressed by their penalty claims.
Wimbledon were well on top though in the first half hour with Akinfenwa and Azeez making life tough for Morecambe. The pair showed signs of a promising partnership in the pre-season friendly against Sutton United and they were brilliant together in the first-half today. Azeez showed a great turn of foot to get down the wing and put over a fine cross for Akinfenwa, but this time he made a hash of his header. However, there was no stopping Akinfenwa shortly afterwards when he bagged his third goal in a Dons shirt. Morecambe only managed to half clear a corner and captain Alan Bennett sent over a lovely cross that Akinfenwa headed home emphatically.
It had been an impressive first-half from Wimbledon, but they needed Shea to be alert just minutes before half-time when he beat away a fierce long-range free-kick from Ryan Williams. Apart from a few fleeting moments of danger from Morecambe, Wimbledon had controlled the first-half and one sensed there could be more goals in it for the Dons.
Morecambe had their best spell so far at the start of the second-half and Shea twice had to come way off his line to stop the visitors making an impression. However, Bennett and Barrett remained resolute in defence and Wimbledon started to turn the screw again just after the hour. More good work from Azeez created space for Francomb and he sent over a lovely cross that Akinfenwa failed to direct towards goal on this occasion. However, Akinfenwa continued to haunt Morecambe and he came even closer minutes later when his powerful 20-yard drive was beaten away by Roche.
Though Shea had been far from overworked in the Wimbledon goal, he was impressive when called upon and he made a fine point-blank save to turn away Paul Mullin’s fierce drive. The pace of Azeez was proving to be a very useful outlet to relieve Morecambe pressure and he won a free-kick that almost brought the reward of a second when Akinfenwa headed wide from Francomb’s cross.
Neal Ardley made his first change with 10 minutes left as Azeez was replaced by Tom Beere. A fine day for Azeez was summed up by the rousing ovation he received from the home fans when his number was held up. Beere wasted no time getting involved after his introduction and he turned inside and fired over the crossbar after lovely play by Francomb.
The final stages became nervy from a Dons perspective as they clung on desperately and Morecambe should have equalised seven minutes from time. Ellison rose highest in the box to meet a cross into the box and the ball fell nicely for Mullin just a few yards out, but he headed wide with the goal gaping. It turned out that one was enough for Wimbledon and Azeez earned the man of the match award for his excellent display up front.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Ben Harrison, Sammy Moore, Adam Barrett, Alan Bennett, Sean Rigg (Callum Kennedy), Dannie Bulman, Bayo Akinfenwa, Ade Azeez (Tom Beere), George Francomb.