Tyrone Barnett’s first club goal capped a superb fightback from AFC Wimbledon to earn a first League One away victory for Neal Ardley’s men.
Despite being outplayed in the first half, Wimbledon fought back in determined fashion to secure a 2-1 victory in front of 1,714 travelling Dons.
The manner of the comeback offers real encouragement that Wimbledon can build on this and be competitive at the higher level this season.
Neal Ardley made three changes to his starting line-up after the defeat to Sheffield United. James Shea was handed his first League One start in place of Ryan Clarke with Dannie Bulman and Lyle Taylor replacing Dean Parrett and Tyrone Barnett.
It was clear after conceding three goals last Saturday that more defensive solidity would be needed to get something against a Charlton side unbeaten since the opening day. The hosts threatened inside two minutes when Nicky Ajose cut inside and cracked a shot wide. However, good work from Jon Meades down the left set-up a great chance for Andy Barcham just a few minutes later, but his shot was blocked by Morgan Fox.
Wimbledon fell behind in the eight minute to a goal that was simple in its execution. A switch of play from Fredrik Ulvestad picked out Ademola Lookman in plenty of space on the Dons right and he cut inside and beat Shea at his near post with a powerful strike. Lookman was proving to be a real menace with his pace and movement, Wimbledon struggling to contain his threat. It was his pass that set-up Ricky Holmes for the next chance midway through the half, but Shea did very well to get down and save his shot.
The Dons had struggled to create anything of note in the first-half as promising moments of possession all too often broke down. There was a sight of goal for Jake Reeves just before the half hour mark, but he dragged his shot wide after fine play initially from the midfielder to create space. Wimbledon failed to test Declan Rudd in the first-half, but he did do well to hold a fine cross swung in by Dominic Poleon. The half ended though with Charlton on top and it could have been two when Josh Magennis set-up Ajose, but he fired over the crossbar.
Goalscorer Lookman was the undoubted class act of the first-half and it needed superb goalkeeping from Shea to deny him again just before the break. Indeed, Charlton’s first-half superiority perhaps deserved more than just a 1-0 lead.
The second-half started with more possession from Wimbledon, without being able to create openings against a well drilled Charlton defence. At the other end, it needed more great goalkeeping from Shea to stop Charlton adding to their advantage. Holmes burst through on the right and his fiercely struck effort was destined for the bottom corner, but Shea reacted superbly to tip it wide.
There was a worrying sight in the 57th minute as George Francomb was stretchered off after suffering an injury inside his own box. Tom Elliott was his replacement and his towering presence certainly offered something different for Charlton to think about. Before he had a chance to make an impact, it needed fine defensive play from Robinson to prevent further damage, the defender showing good awareness to stop Magennis getting to a cross from Chris Solly first.
With Elliott now on and offering a useful target up front, Wimbledon sensed they may be able to pull something out of the bag. The striker burst through midway through the second-half, but Elliott was unable to get his shot off with appeals that he had been dragged back proving to be in vain. Tyrone Barnett was also introduced up front for Barcham as Neal Ardley went all out for an equaliser.
Wimbledon’s improvement offered encouragement that an equaliser could be achieved and it arrived 12 minutes from time. It was a brilliant solo goal from Poleon as he burst in between two Charlton defenders before unleashing a fierce low drive that left Rudd with no chance. The large Wimbledon travelling support behind the goal went crazy and their team deserved credit for hanging in there after Charlton’s earlier domination.
It was a completely different match now as Wimbledon began to believe that an unlikely victory could be on the cards. Five minutes from time that edged closer to reality with a goal of real quality. Barry Fuller powered down the right and sent over a lovely cross that substitute Barnett headed home emphatically. What a turnaround for Wimbledon and the final whistle signalled a great first win on the road in League One.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Jon Meades, Dannie Bulman, Paul Robinson, George Francomb (Tom Elliott), Jake Reeves, Dominic Poleon, Andy Barcham (Tyrone Barnett), Darius Charles, Lyle Taylor (Chris Whelpdale).