The Dons rounded off a memorable week in style by winning a thrilling game against promotion contenders Bury.
Bayo Akinfenwa (pictured) grabbed another double to make it seven goals in six matches from him and Matt Tubbs struck what turned out to be the winner in a 3-2 win against the team that started the day top.
It was a match that provided further evidence of Wimbledon’s attacking prowess this season as their forward line proved too hot to handle for a side expected to be challenging come the end of 2014/15.
Neal Ardley made four changes to his starting line-up with the substitutes who made such a difference at Milton Keynes all coming straight back in. Bayo Akinfenwa, Sean Rigg and Matt Tubbs were all handed starting berths again with Ade Azeez, Tom Beere and Jake Nicholson the men to make way. Captain Alan Bennett was also restored to the side at centre-back with Andy Frampton having to settle for a place on the bench.
It was a scrappy start to this game with League 2 leaders Bury aiming to stamp their authority on the match, but Wimbledon stood up to the challenge. Few chances ensued in the first 20 minutes, but Danny Mayor and Ryan Lowe both shot just wide with presentable opportunities.
Wimbledon had struggled to fashion a chance of note in the first quarter, apart from an Akinfenwa header that was straight into the grateful arms of Bury goalkeeper Shwan Jalal. At the other end, James Shea was required to make a brilliant full stretch save to deny Mayor.
However, the Dons have showed plenty of cutting edge in attack this season and they’ve not needed many chances to open their account in most games this season. And Akinfenwa made no mistake midway through the first-half when a superb cross from George Francomb picked him out and he guided the ball home with a sublime finish. In response, Bury came close when Lowe’s free-kick struck the top of the crossbar and bounced to safety.
But such is Akinfenwa’s prolific form that there was a sense of inevitability when Sean Rigg’s teasing cross found him at the back post and the in-form striker’s header left Jalal with absolutely no chance. Having shown such sharpness in attack and defended so well to keep out the visitors, Wimbledon were full value for their 2-0 half-time lead.
Given Wimbledon’s superiority, Neal Ardley unsurprisingly decided to make no changes at half-time. However, the Dons knew they had plenty of work still to do when Bury halved the deficit just three minutes after the break. It came completely out of nothing as Mayor, who scored the winner in last season’s corresponding fixture, picked up the ball 25 yards out and struck a fierce effort that left Shea with no chance.
It was game on again now and Bury really started to really show just why they are one of the promotion favourites as they penned Wimbledon back. However, the Dons were celebrating a third goal in the 53rd minute – and it came in great style too. Francomb delivered another excellent corner that was dummied by Rigg and Tubbs produced a fine finish with the outside of his left boot.
Conceding a goal once again brought the best out of Bury though and a free-kick from Lowe bounced on top of the net. The visitors had become a little disjointed now as they searched for a way back into the match and it could have been game over shortly afterwards. Akinfenwa popped up just inside the area and struck a fierce volley that was just over the crossbar with Jalal getting nowhere near it.
With Bury desperately seeking a second goal, manager David Flitcroft decided to send on former Don Chris Hussey, who got a good reception from the Wimbledon faithful when he came on. The left-back had a presentable shooting chance almost immediately, but he blazed well over the crossbar. However, Hussey did make a meaningful contribution in the 72nd minute when he powered down the left flank and was fouled in the area by Barry Fuller. Lowe stepped up and made no mistake to make it 3-2 and seemingly a nervy conclusion for the Dons.
But the Dons defended resolutely in the latter stages and Bury were unable to create any clear-cut chances. The manner in which Wimbledon held out for victory showed how far the Dons have come this season and it was a win that augers well for the rest of 2014/15.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Jack Smith, Sammy Moore (Andy Frampton), Adam Barrett, Alan Bennett, Sean Rigg, Dannie Bulman, Bayo Akinfenwa, Matt Tubbs (Ade Azeez), George Francomb (Tom Beere).