AFC Wimbledon hit the goal trail for the second successive Tuesday with Dominic Poleon striking another double in a Checkatrade Trophy win against Swansea City.
A week after beating Wigan 5-0 in the Premier League Cup, the Dons triumphed 3-0 against Swansea’s youngsters. It meant that Wimbledon started the group stage of the competition with a victory, Andy Barcham getting the ball rolling with the opening goal in front of 461 spectators.
The Dons fielded a strong starting 11 with only Will Nightingale yet to play for the first-team this season. Nightingale featured in a revamped back four at centre-back alongside Barry Fuller with George Francomb at right-back and Sean Kelly on the other flank. Up front, Dominic Poleon and Tyrone Barnett were paired together for the first time since Peterborough away in the EFL Cup.
EFL clubs were required to feature a minimum of five ‘first-team’ players in the starting 11 as defined under the competition’s existing rules.
As one of the invited Category One clubs, competition rules stated that opponents Swansea had to include six players in their starting line-up under the age of 21. However, there was a clutch of more experienced players with 37-year-old goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel, Franck Tabanou, Jay Fulton and Marvin Emnes having featured at first-team level.
Swansea started with plenty of possession early on with Marvin Emnes showing attacking threat, but they were unable to get behind Wimbledon’s defence and the best chances fell to the hosts in the first half. Tom Beere’s tidy approach play caught the eye in midfield and his smart pass gave Poleon a glimpse of goal, but his shot was too close to Swans goalkeeper Tremmel. Poleon came even closer minutes later when a lovely defence-splitting pass by Jake Reeves, put him through, but with the angle narrowing, Tremmel saved well with his legs.
At the other end, Swansea mustered their first shot at Ryan Clarke when captain Keston Davies tried his luck, but it was straight at the Wimbledon goalkeeper. With Wimbledon having had the better of the first-half, it was little surprise when the Dons made the breakthrough. It was a fine goal too as lovely play by Barnett put Barcham clean through and his shot had just enough on it to beat Tremmel. It was Barcham’s third goal of the season and that highlighted his impressive start to 2016/17.
The second-half started with Wimbledon spraying the ball around effectively and it was almost 2-0 when good work from Beere found George Francomb in space and his cross found Poleon, whose shot was deflected just wide. However, there was not long to wait for Wimbledon to double the advantage. Dean Parrett’s fierce shot was parried by Tremmel and Poleon showed a fine poacher’s knack to follow-up and steer home from close range.
Neal Ardley made a double change in the 65th minute with Dannie Bulman and David Fitzpatrick introduced for Jake Reeves and Andy Barcham. It didn’t take long for skilful winger Fitzpatrick to make an impact as he set-up the third goal with a powerful run down the right, before crossing for Poleon, who volleyed home from close-range. Barnett then had a header well held by Tremmel as Wimbledon threatened more goals.
In the latter stages, Poleon came close to claiming a hat-trick with a fierce drive just wide, before Clarke denied Emnes a consolation at the other end. The final whistle signalled victory in the first group game with matches against Plymouth and Newport still to come.
AFC Wimbledon: Ryan Clarke, Barry Fuller, Will Nightingale, George Francomb, Sean Kelly, Tom Beere, Dean Parrett, Jake Reeves (Dannie Bulman), Tyrone Barnett, Dominic Poleon, Andy Barcham (David Fitzpatrick).