Late goals seal three points
With supporters and players alike on their third leg of a 1,299 mile round trip and their second visit to York City in glorious autumn sunshine, it was vital for Neal Ardley to instil belief in the team with a telling and positive performance after the poor showing at Exeter midweek.
Stacy Long was restored to the team in place of an unfit Rashid Yussuff, and he would have an instrumental part to play later in the game with a livewire performance against a York City side who appeared tentative from the off. In fact so much so that for the first 22 minutes it was all Wimbledon, roared on by over 400 travelling fans, and it was not until the 31st minute that the hosts had a shot at goal. There is always a nagging doubt in the back of the mind that unless possession is turned into goals, then the game could be lost. Saturday was not going to be like that.
Within four minutes of the start of the game, Danny Kearns, who had been so dominant the previous Saturday in the FA Cup game, misplaced a pass across the back four and Jack Midson, playing more centrally, seized upon the ball and bore down on goal, letting fly from fully 25 yards. His shot was straight at Mike Ingham, who saved well.
The Dons continued to retain possession, but couldn't find the killer pass or clear sight of goal. New boy Jake Reeves, playing in midfield, lashed in a great shot from the edge of the box after fine interchanges with Steven Gregory and Long in the 15th minute; unfortunately it nestled in the side netting. Shortly afterwards, on 24 minutes top scorer Byron Harrison had an excellent chance from a corner swung in by George Francomb, but managed to head wide by the narrowest of margins with the goal beckoning. His disbelief was palpable.
York City had their first chance of the game in the 31st minute as a poor clearance fell nicely for Danny Kearns. His snap shot went wide from the edge of the box. A few minutes later Jason Walker did the same from the opposite edge of the box but an untroubled Seb Brown watched the ball fly wide.
The second half was a more even affair, but for Wimbledon much more positive as the team, with a slight change in emphasis, brought three welcome points with goals aplenty. Within two minutes of the restart three corners were on the board after Long's shot was deflected to safety when a goal had looked on the cards. However that was not to be and Matty Blair almost punished the Dons at the far post, which was nicely saved by Brown after Lanre Oyebanjo’s long throw found its way to the winger.
A minute later the Dons made a breakthrough. Will Antwi's towering header beat the midfield and found Harrison racing away. A little dink under Ingham and the ball was in the net in front of the Wimbledon supporters. Cue relief and belief.
With twenty five minutes left to play home manager Gary Mills threw on Jamie Reed and Oli Johnson as City searched for an equaliser. Some neat work from Scott Kerr and Blair on the edge of the box set up Oyebanjo but his shot sailed high over the crossbar in the 69th minute. The full back was then involved once again as his shot across goal was deflected away by Yado Mambo with Reed waiting to pounce.
The York City pressure continued. Kearns had a great chance in the 72nd minute and saw his shot deflected away for a corner and that was it for the home team. With York pushing for an equaliser Wimbledon almost doubled their lead but Ingham produced a fine reflex save from Mambo.
Enter Charlie Strutton in the 76th minute in place of Harrison. The scorer of Wimbledon's equaliser the previous week caused problems in the home defence with his strength and pace. Within a minute Francomb put in a fine cross and somehow Strutton missed; he headed downwards towards the goal from close in but it bounced over the bar. There was a rueful smile from the striker, whilst the visiting bench were on their feet expecting to applaud a goal. They didn't have long to wait.
Four minutes later Strutton went away with the ball, tight by the corner flag, but found space to slip a delightful reverse pass for Long on the edge of the box. Long looked up and then lashed the ball home from 20 yards, past a despairing Ingham. 2-0. Within a further four minutes Strutton chased a ball into the penalty box and Chris Smith clipped his legs as he tried to get to the ball. Penalty to Wimbledon. Jack Midson stepped up to the mark and drove the spot kick home for 3-0 and three points in the 85th minute.
There were fine displays across the team. Strutton really shone after coming on late in the game, whilst loanees Jonathan Meades and Jake Reeves brought an extra dimension to the left side of the team. Midson was back to his best and Francomb continued to deliver while Brown in goal, although rarely troubled by a direct shot, showed good judgement deciding when to punch and when to catch.
This was Wimbledon's best win of the season and York's heaviest defeat. Now York City visit the Cherry Records Stadium for the FA Cup 1st Round replay, which will see Wimbledon put out a somewhat changed side.The game is not all ticket, but you can buy online and collect them before the game on Monday 12 November. It is going to be an intriguing game as the two managers go head to head for the third time in nine days.