Substitute Joe Pigott wasted no time making an impact at AFC Wimbledon with his debut goal ensuring victory for AFC Wimbledon today.
The vital 2-0 victory against Blackpool, which takes Wimbledon out of the League One relegation zone, was achieved with both goals in the second-half. Liam Trotter had paved the way towards victory by scoring for the second successive home game after his first goal for the club against Southend United on New Year's Day.
Victory was so important with Blackpool in close proximity in the table and with away games to come for the Dons, who are unbeaten in the league so far in 2018.
Neal Ardley made just one change from the side that started at Milton Keynes with George Long handed an instant recall after illness in place of Joe McDonnell. New signing Joe Pigott was named as a substitute after signing earlier this week. Wimbledon came into this match aiming for a third successive home victory after previous wins against Bradford and Southend United. However, Blackpool had shown decent form on the road in recent weeks, including a 1-0 defeat last time at Oxford that was very harsh, according to reports.
Both sides struggled to establish meaningful possession in the first 10 minutes, but former AFC Wimbledon academy player Dan Agyei, who had been signed on loan from Burnley, tried his luck with a shot that was well gathered by Long. Wimbledon started to up the tempo and in the 13th minute a fine move ended with Deji Oshilaja sending over a teasing cross from the left that Lyle Taylor was just unable to reach. Wimbledon's top scorer was really starting to cause problems to the Blackpool defence, his movement earning free-kicks around the box. Taylor had one of those deflected out for a corner, but from the subsequent flag-kick his delivery picked out Tom Soares, who headed just over the crossbar.
As we edged towards the half hour mark, Wimbledon had enjoyed the majority of possession with Blackpool mainly restricted to the occasional break. Joe Lumley was tested for the first time after 30 minutes when Cody McDonald put through a lovely ball for Andy Barcham to run onto, but his shot was too close to the Blackpool keeper. In a first-half of few chances, both sides were restricted mainly to long-range efforts. Jimmy Abdou found space for a shot from outside the area, but it sailed over the crossbar, and at the other end Sessi D'Almeida struck a shot well wide of the target. The 0-0 half-time score-line reflected a closely fought first 45 minutes with chances at a premium.
Wimbledon came out of the blocks quickly at the start of the second-half and earned reward less than four minutes after the restart. George Long's kick deep into the Blackpool half was almost reached by Taylor, but it landed nicely for McDonald, who needed no second invitation to power through on goal. Though McDonald's shot was parried by Lumley, Trotter followed up to produce a clinical finish past Lumley. It once again demonstrated Trotter's renewed confidence in front of goal, the midfielder adding a finishing edge to his fine work in the centre of the park.
Though there was no let-up from Wimbledon, Blackpool started to come into it around the hour mark. They threatened to catch Wimbledon with one quick break out when the ball was worked to Kyle Vassell on the right, but his cross eluded Blackpool players waiting in the box. Wimbledon were now forced to defend in numbers and a fine defensive clearance was needed from Deji Oshilaja, who impressed throughout. At the other end, Wimbledon came close to sealing victory when a fine ball from Taylor put Barcham through, but his shot was well saved by Lumley.
With 18 minutes remaining, Wimbledon made a double change. Joe Pigott came on for his debut in place of McDonald and Jon Meades entered the fray for George Francomb. It certainly didn't take long for Pigott to make his mark. The former Maidstone striker had a lot to do when he latched onto a through ball from Trotter, but he cracked home emphatically from an acute angle to signal ecstatic scenes at the Cherry Red Records Stadium. Though Blackpool tried in vain to conjure up a response, there was no way back and it was a fully deserved win for the Dons.
AFC Wimbledon: George Long, Barry Fuller, George Francomb (Jon Meades), Deji Oshilaja, Darius Charles, Jimmy Abdou, Liam Trotter, Tom Soares, Cody McDonald (Joe Pigott), Lyle Taylor (Harry Forrester), Andy Barcham.
Pic credit: Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images.