Another headed goal from Tom Elliott made it three successive away wins as AFC Wimbledon’s march up the League One table continued.
It’s unlikely you will see a more one-sided 1-0 victory than at Peterborough today with Wimbledon completely dominating from start to finish to make it eight league games unbeaten. It completed a brilliant week for the Dons with two wins on the road in five days after the late victory at Bury.
Neal Ardley had spoken about making changes to his starting line-up for a third game in eight days and he was certainly true to his word. George Francomb, Tom Elliott, Chris Whelpdale and Tom Beere were all recalled in place of Dean Parrett, Lyle Taylor, Tyrone Barnett and Dannie Bulman. As part of six changes on the day, there was a completely new centre-back pairing with Chris Robertson and Will Nightingale paired together in place of Paul Robinson and Darius Charles, who was injured in the warm-up.
Despite all the changes, Wimbledon started fluently and an attacking approach from the outset was rewarded in the 10th minute. George Francomb sent over a deep corner that picked out Jon Meades and his header back across goal was nodded home by Tom Elliott. Yet again, Wimbledon had struck from a set-piece and it was the spark for a period of complete domination from the visitors. The Dons came so close to making it 2-0 almost immediately with Elliott denied by Peterborough goalkeeper Luke McGee, who just managed to tip wide. From the subsequent corner, Whelpdale was denied by an overworked McGee and Nightingale’s follow-up effort was cleared off the line.
Far from Wimbledon sitting on the lead, numerous chances followed as home anxiety grew. Elliott was simply unstoppable in the first-half, his power and intelligent running simply proving too much for a shell-shocked Peterborough back-line. Well supported by the direct running of Andy Barcham, Peterborough couldn’t cope with the Dons onslaught. There was good support from a rampant midfield too, Tom Beere’s run into the box creating space for Elliott, who teed up Whelpdale and his shot flashed just over the crossbar. Beere then had a shot deflected wide and Meades was denied by McGee in a first-half that was completely one-way traffic.
Just before the half hour mark, Elliott came closest to doubling the advantage. The all-action striker powered through on goal and after his initial effort was saved by McGee, his follow-up crashed against a post. The extent of Wimbledon’s first-half domination was summed up when Callum Chettle had an effort saved by James Shea on the stroke of half-time and that brought ironic cheers from the home faithful. It had been a first-half display just as good as the first 45 minutes at Oxford United, just without the extra goals to show for it. The major concern as the half-time whistle shrilled was that Neal Ardley’s men had failed to secure the lead their superiority deserved.
As expected, Peterborough did improve at the start of the second-half and they simply had to if they were to get anything out of this game. Nightingale showed his defensive qualities with a well-timed block and then Meades displayed his trademark tenacity to get back and stop Tom Nichols from going through. With an hour gone, Wimbledon had fallen deeper and deeper to defend the lead and the home support were getting more behind their team. Neal Ardley was forced into his first change with Chris Whelpdale having to come off injured and he was replaced by Lyle Taylor.
Taylor, who had been in such great form heading into this match, didn’t take long to make an impact and he shot over after latching onto a long kick from Shea. With 20 minutes to go, Wimbledon had stemmed the tide and they looked in the mood to seal victory. Taylor shot over again after more sharp forward play and then Francomb’s shot was blocked after a good run through the heart of Peterborough’s defence. Neal Ardley made another change with 18 minutes to play as Beere was substituted and replaced by Dean Parrett.
Wimbledon were so unlucky not to double the advantage with 15 minutes to go. Elliott latched onto a through ball and produced a sublime lob over McGee, but the ball struck the inside of a post and rolled agonisingly away to safety. Further chances followed, firstly when Nightingale’s glancing header bounced just wide after he got on the end of a superb free-kick delivery from Parrett. Then Taylor’s lob flashed just off target. It was difficult to work out just how Wimbledon had not finished off Peterborough, but maybe one would be enough with the defence offering stout resistance. When a cross did evade the attentions of Nightingale and Robertson, Shea punched clear brilliantly.
Despite a bit of late Peterborough pressure, Wimbledon held on with Shea making a fine save to deny Andrew Hughes a late headed goal.It was a deserved victory and it completed a fruitful week that secured seven points out of a possible nine.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Jon Meades, George Francomb (Dannie Bulman), Jake Reeves, Tom Elliott, Chris Whelpdale (Lyle Taylor), Tom Beere (Dean Parrett), Andy Barcham, Will Nightingale, Chris Robertson.