Wimbledon ended four seasons of misery at Accrington Stanley in superb fashion with a wonderful demonstration of attacking football earning all three points.
A 4-3 Wimbledon win was also a tribute to the battling qualities of Neal Ardley’s men as they were 2-0 down after just 10 minutes and fell behind once again after equalising. Dannie Bulman was the catalyst for victory as he struck a memorable first-half double and Lyle Taylor’s finishing was every bit as good as he also struck twice.
Such a scenario had all seemed so unlikely early on for the 131 Dons fans that made the long trip as Wimbledon’s defensive frailties struck once again.
Neal Ardley made two changes to his starting 11 at Accrington Stanley with both of those forced upon him due to injuries. Loan signing Ben Wilson was thrust straight into the number one role after his international clearance came through with James Shea missing out due to a groin injury. With Andy Barcham also ruled out, it meant a start for Sean Rigg.
Wimbledon supporters had cause to believe it was another wasted journey to Accrington Stanley inside 10 minutes with the Dons 2-0 down. It was a poor first goal to concede in the fifth minute with the hosts taking advantage of slack marking from a free-kick. A set-piece from Sean McConville was cleared back to the same player, but Wimbledon reacted too slowly after he chipped the ball back into the box and Billy Kee struck home from close range.
The Dons failed to learn from that and the same combination linked-up to make it 2-0, this time McConville picking Kee out with a free-kick from the right and the Morecambe striker headed home emphatically. With another defeat at Accrington now seeming inevitable, Wimbledon finally woke up and produced a stirring response that stunned the hosts. It all started when Accrington failed to clear a long throw-in and Bulman pounced to strike an absolute belter.
Now, it was a completely different game as Wimbledon poured forward in numbers and it was a superbly worked move that earned the equaliser in great style in the 25th minute. Bulman started it with a ball out to the wing for Francomb and he delivered a lovely cross that Lyle Taylor met with a clinical first-time finish. It was one of those games when a goal seemed likely every time both teams went forward. With Wimbledon continuing to pile forward, Francomb had an effort well held by Accrington goalkeeper Jason Mooney.
A reaction followed from Accrington and the hosts regained the lead in the 36th minute when McConville was found in space on the left and he delivered a fine finish from an acute angle. From a Wimbledon perspective, it was a real shame with Neal Ardley’s men having battled back with no shortage of spirit and swagger. However, there was still time in the first-half for a sixth goal in a remarkable 45 minutes and it came for Wimbledon. Taylor, who led the line superbly, latched onto a flick-on from Akinfenwa and put through a lovely ball for Bulman, who struck another fierce strike to leave Mooney with no chance.
The first-half action ended with Fuller striking a shot that was well held by Jason Mooney and with a 3-3 score at half-time it was hard to envisage what the team-talks would be from the respective managers.
It was certainly a tough act to follow in the second-half, just how could it match the entertainment value of the first 45 minutes? Taylor wasted no time showing his quality yet again when he burst through, but this time his shot was well over the crossbar.
Unsurprisingly, the first 15 minutes of the second half failed to get anywhere near the high-tempo football produced before the interval, but Wimbledon controlled possession as Accrington were forced deep yet again. Just maybe, travelling Dons supporters were starting to contemplate a first win at Accrington since returning to the Football League.
That scenario moved a step closer 19 minutes after half-time when Wimbledon took the lead for the first time with a simply brilliant goal. There did not appear to be too much danger when Barry Fuller picked out Taylor, but he turned his marker smartly and let fly with a superb strike that left Mooney with no chance. A 4-3 lead for Wimbledon had seemed highly unlikely with 10 minutes gone, but it was fully deserved for an excellent demonstration of attacking football on the night.
Wimbledon held on quite comfortably in the latter stages and it was a much-needed victory for the Dons after two successive defeats.
AFC Wimbledon: Ben Wilson, Barry Fuller, Jon Meades, Paul Robinson, Semi Ajayi, George Francomb, Sean Rigg, Dannie Bulman, Jake Reeves, Bayo Akinfenwa (Tom Elliott), Lyle Taylor (Ade Azeez).