First league defeat of 2017
AFC Wimbledon endured a tough afternoon at Bramall Lane today with title contenders Sheffield United showing their full array of attacking qualities.
The Blades marched to a 4-0 victory that highlighted what a good side they are with Wimbledon condemned to a first league defeat of 2017.
Wimbledon had great support on the day with an attendance of 20,549 including 831 travelling fans, but this was certainly not one of the better away days in League One this season.
Neal Ardley made six changes from the side that drew at Chesterfield two weeks ago with new signing Tom Soares among those included. Paul Robinson, Tom Elliott, Andy Barcham, Dannie Bulman and Lyle Taylor were all restored to the team with the manager having virtually a fully fit squad to choose from.
Wimbledon endured the worst possible start inside two minutes at Bramall Lane after Andy Barcham was adjudged to have fouled Kieron Freeman just outside the area. The free-kick was fired in from the right by John Fleck and James Shea was only able to divert it straight back at Billy Sharp and the rebound just about crossed the line.
minute, but the effort from Jake Reeves was too close to United goalkeeper Simon Moore. However, United continued to pose a threat with the movement of their attack catching the eye. Mark Duffy, who was so impressive in the 3-2 win for United at Wimbledon earlier this season, shot just wide as United started to work up a head of steam again.thRecovering from the shock of conceding so early, Wimbledon did start to establish good possession with Jake Reeves at the heart of it and Barcham relieving pressure down the left. A decent move ended with Wimbledon’s first shot on target in the 16
minute and it was a mountain to climb now for Wimbledon.thWith Wimbledon attempting to find a way back, former Blades striker Lyle Taylor displayed lovely skill to take a ball down and pick out Barcham on the left side, but the winger was unable to make the most of it. Bulman also had a good shooting chance, but his effort was comfortably wide. At the other end, James Hanson, who scored the winner for Bradford against Neal Ardley’s men earlier this season, headed just over. It turned out to be only a temporary reprieve for Wimbledon. Another fine United move down their right ended with a cross from Freeman picking out Hanson, who finished clinically with a debut goal to make it 2-0. The second goal came in the 36
Going in 2-0 down at half-time against a side vying for the League One title, it was now a real test of Wimbledon’s character to try and make a game of it. The second-half started with Wimbledon committing more men forward and there was a moment of encouragement when Taylor got in behind, but with the angle narrowing, his shot was deflected wide.
United picked up the tempo once again though and they had chances to effectively seal victory before the hour mark. The first in a flurry of opportunities came when a cross from Daniel Lafferty picked out Sharp, but with the goal gaping, he diverted the ball just wide. Then Shea did well to gather an attempted lob from the same player, before Lafferty headed wide from close range after another good cross from Fleck.
As the second-half progressed, United showed just why they are regarded by many as title favourites. Another flowing move ended with Duffy denied by a good save from Shea, before Soares cleared off the line after United had won a corner. Wimbledon almost caught United with a sucker-punch when Tom Elliott beat Moore to a long ball, but his header over the keeper drifted wide.
minute. It came in fine style too with Fleck twisting and turning through the Wimbledon defence, before beating Shea with a lovely curled finish. On a day to forget for Wimbledon, the standard of Sheffield United’s attacking play had to be acknowledged and substitute Caolan Lavery made it four in injury-time to put the icing on the cake for the hosts. No one will be surprised if all at Sheffield United are celebrating the League One title on 30 April.thUnited had the third goal they merited for an impressive second-half display in the 78
James Shea, Barry Fuller, Dannie Bulman (George Francomb), Paul Robinson, Jake Reeves, Tom Elliott, Tom Soares, Andy Barcham (Dominic Poleon), Sean Kelly, Darius Charles, Lyle Taylor. AFC Wimbledon:
Pic credit: Simon Davies.