Dons stay on target
Lyle Taylor made it twenty goals for the season as AFC Wimbledon stayed on target for a play-off place at Dagenham and Redbridge.
A goal in each half from the Montserrat international cemented the Dons position with just four games remaining.
Neal Ardley made three changes to the starting line-up that beat Crawley Town 1-0 at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on Saturday. Connor Smith, Bayo Akinfenwa and ex-Dagger Rhys Murphy dropped to the bench, with Andy Barcham promoted, Sean Rigg keeping his place having come on as substitute and Tom Elliott fit again after illness able to partner Lyle Taylor up front.
With barely twenty seconds on the clock, 18-goal Taylor had a golden opportunity to open the scoring after a mistake by Dagenham’s Clevid Dikamona, but he slipped the ball wide of Matt Cousins’ goal.
Taylor switched sides after six minutes and after a promising exchange with Elliott he blazed the ball high over the home end. A minute later, the Dons pressure intensified with this time Elliott putting the ball wide after the Daggers backline were looking for an offside decision.
There was a blow for the Dons though after ten minutes with Jon Meades stretchered off with a suspected ankle injury and replaced at left-back again by Callum Kennedy, as he did on Saturday.
Paul Robinson needed to make an important block to deny Jamie Cureton after sixteen minutes. Shortly after that, the stretcher bearers were called into action again as the hosts lost Matt Richards in an incident-packed opening period to the game.
After 26 minutes, skipper Barry Fuller made a vital stop on the line to deny Cureton another goal to his tally against the Dons over the seasons. The breakthrough finally came though after 33 minutes when Taylor’s deflected effort gave the visitors daylight after a succession of passes finally paid off inside the box.
With five minutes to go before the break, George Francomb’s high ball fell tantalizingly into the path of Taylor, but his low drive went wide of Cousins' goal again.
Despite the threat of Cureton from a couple of nervy moments, the Dons had the advantage and were deservedly in front at the break against a side playing with more freedom after their relegation.
Daggers were quick out of the blocks in the second half with Christian Doidge forcing the Dons backline to clear inside the first minute. Taylor benefitted from a counter attack and curled an effort at Cousins goal, who shortly after had to get down at the feet of Andy Barcham amid calls from a packed Dons following in the away stand.
of the season right on the hour mark.thThere was no doubting Taylor’s second as he broke with pace and power and smashed the ball past Cousins for his 20
Matt Cash looked lively for Dagenham and Redbridge, and forced Kelle Roos to dive and collect the ball midway through the half, with proud parent Stuart Cash - the former Dons assistant manager - watching on from the main stand.
With twenty minutes to go, Neal Ardley brought on the bustling pace of former Dagenham loanee Ade Azeez for the hard-working Elliott. Four minutes later, Francomb earned a standing ovation from the Wimbledon support of 983 when Connor Smith came on for him for the last fifteen minutes.
Cash received a yellow for a challenge on Kennedy, with just under ten minutes to go, with the Dons well in control of the game and looking to add to the score. The Dons were now playing at their best and with freedom and finished the game playing some quality, attacking football.
AFC Wimbledon: Kelle Roos, Barry Fuller, Dannie Bulman, Paul Robinson, George Francomb (Connor Smith), Tom Elliott (Ade Azeez), Sean Rigg, Jon Meades (Callum Kennedy), Andy Barcham, Darius Charles, Lyle Taylor.