By Chris Slavin
AFC Wimbledon rounded off an impressive sequence of results in January with a brilliant attacking display at Bradford today.
A Cody McDonald double and goals from Andy Barcham and Jimmy Abdou secured a 4-0 victory that was fully deserved for Wimbledon on the day. It was a match when it all really came together for Wimbledon; a solid defensive display, combined with a flowing attacking edge.
Certainly, it provided a big boost to Wimbledon’s hopes of continuing to climb the League One table and staying outside that bottom four.
Neal Ardley decided to select an unchanged starting line-up, resisting the temptation to hand Joe Pigott his first Wimbledon start after his debut goal as a substitute. On a ground where Wimbledon had suffered 5-1 and 3-0 defeats on their last visits, the Dons came into this one with confidence high of turning that around. With Wimbledon unbeaten in the league in 2018 and Bradford on a run of defeats, there was no reason for the Dons to be fearful.
Wimbledon showed signs of early threat in the first 10 minutes. A lovely run down the right by George Francomb created space for a cross and his delivery was right into the danger area, but Andy Barcham and Cody McDonald were both just unable to reach it. McDonald also got in behind to latch onto a long ball, but he was just unable to get a clean contact on his shot and the ball trickled just wide. At the other end, former Wimbledon striker Dominic Poleon was aiming to get in behind at every opportunity, but he was caught offside twice in the opening stages. When he did break the offside trap, George Long did well to hold his effort on target.
The Dons marched into the lead in the 14th minute with a well-taken goal from Abdou. With Bradford appealing that the ball had gone out, Lyle Taylor played to the whistle and cut the ball back for Abdou, who produced a lovely curler into the far corner. It had been a fully deserved lead for Wimbledon and the defending was good too. Bradford were restricted to efforts from long-range with Paul Taylor flashing a shot a yard off target from just outside the area.
As the first-half wore on, the natives were growing restless and Wimbledon showed signs of capitalising on that. Lyle Taylor won a free-kick just outside the area, but his effort was charged down. Wimbledon came even closer when McDonald headed just over the crossbar after another ball into the Bradford box caused problems. With hesitancy growing among the Bradford back-line, Francomb wasted no time getting more crosses into the box, but the hosts managed to hold out until half-time unscathed. Nevertheless, it had been a very impressive first-half from Wimbledon and certainly a display to take plenty of encouragement from for the second-half.
There was a key incident in the 49th minute when Bradford thought they had equalised, but the match officials eventually ruled the goal out. It all started when Paul Taylor’s shot took a deflection and was diverted in by Poleon. Though the referee’s assistant did not initially put his flag up, he eventually did and after consultation with man-in-the-middle Geoff Eltringham, the goal was disallowed. After surviving that scare, Wimbledon doubled the advantage in the 59th minute after a well-worked move. McDonald showed fine vision and quality to pick out Barcham in the box and he kept his cool with a low finish past Rouven Sattelmaier.
It was far from a case of Wimbledon sitting on the lead after earning a two-goal advantage and it was 3-0 in the 65th minute. McDonald won possession on the left flank and darted inside before striking a shot that Sattelmaier was just unable to keep out and it rolled over the line for number three. Neal Ardley had the luxury of taking off Lyle Taylor with Joe Pigott handed another opportunity from the bench and Jon Meades also entered the fray for Francomb. There was more to come from Wimbledon and it was 4-0 with 10 minutes to go. Pigott was involved immediately, sending a lovely pass through for McDonald, who finished superbly. Cue celebrations to match the performance with keeper George Long running the length of the pitch to celebrate with his joyful team-mates.
The fourth goal had Bradford supporters heading for the exits after a second-half domination from Wimbledon and what a way it was for the Dons to round off a very impressive run of form in January. Next up, it’s a trip to Rotherham, but that will surely hold no fears after this wonderful Wimbledon display.
AFC Wimbledon: George Long, Barry Fuller, Deji Oshilaja, George Francomb (Jon Meades), Jimmy Abdou (Anthony Hartigan), Cody McDonald, Liam Trotter, Andy Barcham, Tom Soares, Darius Charles, Lyle Taylor (Joe Pigott).
Pic credit: Simon Davies, Pro Sports Images.