A double from Bayo Akinfenwa earned a second successive home victory for the Dons today as Newport were comfortably brushed aside.
Akinfenwa could have been celebrating his first Dons hat trick as he had a second half penalty saved, but he produced an excellent forward display on the day to help Wimbledon to a fully deserved 2-0 win.
Neal Ardley made just one change to the Dons starting 11 after a creditable draw at Morecambe last Saturday. David Connolly was handed his first start since re-signing for Wimbledon with Craig Tanner having to settle for a place on the bench.
Wimbledon’s vastly experienced forward line showed no lack of adventure early on with Connolly’s clever movement offering a different option and Bayo Akinfenwa headed just wide after fine play down the right from Barry Fuller. However, Akinfenwa made no mistake in the 11th minute when he finished off a lovely Dons move. Callum Kennedy, who has been very impressive since becoming a regular again, picked out Sean Rigg and his excellent cross was headed home emphatically by Akinfenwa.
That produced a response from the visitors, but Wimbledon’s defence held firm with Deji Oshilaja impressing against his old club. That never changed the pattern of this game though as Wimbledon continued to press forward. It was never going to be easy against a Newport defence with former Dons Ismail Yakubu and Darren Jones at the heart of it, but Wimbledon moved the ball around well to threaten before the break. Akinfenwa headed over after a good move involving Jake Reeves and Fuller.
Connolly was far from off the pace in his first start for a long time and he came close to netting his first goal for Wimbledon since his return when he shot just wide. With half-time approaching, Newport’s direct approach started to put the Dons under pressure, but Oshilaja and Nightingale remained resolute in defence.
The Dons made a half-time change with Mark Phillips getting first-team action for the first time since September in place of Nightingale.
Wimbledon started the second half really well and it should have been all over 10 minutes after the break. George Francomb dispossessed Mark Byrne and powered through on goal, before he was sent sprawling in the box by Kevin Feely. Referee Dean Whitestone had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and he subsequently showed a straight red card to Feely. Akinfenwa stepped up with a chance to effectively seal victory, but his shot lacked power and Newport goalkeeper Joe Day saved comfortably.
The Dons then struggled briefly as the visitors sought to take advantage after being let off the hook. Neal Ardley made a double change in an effort to regain momentum with Ade Azeez and Alfie Potter replacing Rigg and Connolly. The changes stirred Wimbledon back into action and Azeez shot just wide as he again showed his qualities as an impact player.
Wimbledon earned the cushion of a second goal 18 minutes from time after more great work from Francomb. The winger, who offered energy and craft down the right flank, sent over another teasing cross that found Akinfenwa and he fired home emphatically. It was so nearly three when Azeez charged down Day, but the ball rebounded off the Wimbledon striker and just over the crossbar.
The Dons piled forward in search of more goals in the latter stages, but two was enough in the end against a Newport side well beaten on the day. It meant that the Dons go into Tuesday’s match at Burton Albion defending a three match unbeaten run.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Callum Kennedy, Jake Reeves, Deji Oshilaja, Will Nightingale (Mark Phillips), Sean Rigg (Alfie Potter), Dannie Bulman, David Connolly (Ade Azeez), Bayo Akinfenwa, George Francomb.