AFC Wimbledon came from behind to earn a deserved victory against Plymouth Argyle today.
It took until the 75th minute for Mitch Pinnock to net the decisive strike, but Wimbledon were full value for the 2-1 victory. Anthony Wordsworth (pictured above striking the equaliser) had earlier netted a goal of the season contender to cancel out an opener from David Fox. With the Dons having Blackpool at home to come up next, it could be a pivotal Christmas period for Wally Downes's side.
The manager made just one enforced change to his starting line-up after the victory at Wycombe Wanderers. Scott Wagstaff, who came off injured early on in that game, was replaced by Jake Jervis, who was aiming to build on his fine goal at Adams Park on Saturday. Jervis was one of two former Plymouth players in the Wimbledon starting line-up with Ben Purrington having also played for the South Devon club.
In a meeting of two sides scrapping for valuable points at the bottom of League One, Wimbledon started the brightest. A fine Dons move in the fifth minute threatened to break the deadlock when Anthony Hartigan showed good vision to pick out Jervis on the right and his cross was diverted into the path of James Hanson, but his shot was blocked. Plymouth started very cautiously, defending deep in their own half. They did have a first shot at goal in the 15th minute with Ryan Taylor trying his luck, but it was deflected wide. There was a half chance for Ryan Edwards from the subsequent corner, but his header was comfortably over the crossbar.
Plymouth took the lead in the 23rd minute with a goal out of nothing. Though the ball fell kindly for David Fox, he was at least 35 yards out, but his shot had so much power on it and Tom King’s out-stretched hand was just unable to reach it. There was a quick response from Wimbledon and Appiah struck a fine volley that was well saved by Plymouth keeper Matt Macey. Wally Downes was forced into a change shortly afterwards when James Hanson had to come off injured and that meant Mitch Pinnock was called into the action.
It had been a good reaction from Wimbledon to falling behind and the Dons equalised in the 32nd minute with a goal of real quality. Pouncing on a half cleared cross, there was still plenty to do when Anthony Wordsworth shaped up for a volley from 25 yards out, but it was an absolutely cracking first time effort that left Macey with no chance as it nestled in the bottom corner. It had been an exhibition in shooting prowess from distance so far and Jervis almost got in on the act with a lovely curler that just went wide. Before half-time it was almost 2-1 to Wimbledon when Appiah latched onto a through ball and tried his luck, but his well-struck shot was just over. Wimbledon also had strong penalty appeals for a challenge by Plymouth keeper Macey on Andy Barcham, but the referee was unimpressed.
Those in attendance had witnessed two goals of real quality in a first-half that was far from a tense struggle between two sides fighting for survival. On the balance of play, Wimbledon had created the better chances and perhaps should have gone in ahead at the break.
Wimbledon started the second-half with attacking intent and there was almost a second for the hosts 10 minutes after the break. Andy Barcham cut inside and tried his luck with a curler that was bound for the top corner, but Macey made a full-stretch finger-tip save. Though Antoni Sarcevic shot just over the crossbar at the other end, Wimbledon started to put more pressure on at around the hour mark. A flurry of corners followed, but the Dons were unable to make the most of set-piece opportunities, as Plymouth defended resolutely.
With 20 minutes to go, Wally Downes provided Tyler Burey with another chance to impress, the 17-year-old replacing Jake Jervis. Tyler had certainly shown his attacking qualities as a substitute at Charlton recently and maybe he could offer a different kind of threat for Plymouth to deal with. However, Plymouth contributed to their own downfall with 15 minutes to go, as Wimbledon punished a defensive lapse. Last-man Yann Songo’o, who was just inside his own half, should really have dealt with a long ball forward, but he made a hash of it, and Pinnock took full advantage. Though he was in plenty of space, there was a lot for Pinnock still to do, but he powered clear, before scoring with a lovely lob that was expertly judged.
Though Wimbledon had to defend the lead, it was hardly backs-to-the-wall stuff. Substitute Burey almost made it three when he was put through by Pinnock, but his shot was saved by Macey. At the other end, Burey earned applause from the home faithful for tracking back and putting in an important challenge. That summed up the commitment from Wimbledon at both ends of the pitch and it was a fully deserved victory. Though Pinnock fired into the side netting late on, two was enough to earn a crucial win for the Dons.
AFC Wimbledon: Tom King, Tennai Watson, Ben Purrington, Will Nightingale, Terell Thomas, Anthony Hartigan, Kwesi Appiah, Jake Jervis (Tyler Burey), Andy Barcham (Tyler Garratt), James Hanson (Mitch Pinnock), Anthony Wordsworth.
Pic credit: Nigel Cole, Pro Sports Images.