AFC Wimbledon stayed in contention to make progress in the Leasing.com Trophy by striking three more goals tonight.
Joe Pigott, Michael Folivi, and Callum Reilly hit the goals in a 3-0 victory that was also achieved with a superb penalty save from Nathan Trott that came with the game still in the balance at 2-0. It was an eventful midweek Leasing.com Trophy group C match between clubs separated by just one division and an entertaining one too for the 642 spectators in attendance.
It was certainly another fine demonstration of finishing from Wimbledon against League 2 side Leyton Orient and it augers well for the trip to Southend United on Saturday.
Glyn Hodges had promised in the build-up to this game that it would be a strong Wimbledon team for this match and that certainly proved to be the case. Just two changes were made to the side that started the victory versus Rochdale on Saturday. Captain Will Nightingale was rested for this one with Ryan Delaney taking his place in defence and Callum Reilly replaced Anthony Wordsworth in midfield. With Nightingale not on the pitch, Scott Wagstaff was handed the captain’s armband.
Wimbledon made the perfect start in the second minute when Wagstaff was fouled by Shadrach Ogie in the box and Joe Pigott slotted home the subsequent spot-kick. In a free-flowing start to this match, Orient should have been level just three minutes later. James Alabi pounced on a defensive lapse by Paul Kalambayi, before sending over a cross that picked out Louis Dennis just a few yards out, but his effort bounced off the underside of the crossbar onto the line and away to safety. Dennis then almost scored himself, but his shot flashed just wide of the target. It had certainly been a strong response from the visitors to going behind and they came tantalisingly close to the equaliser again when a curling free-kick from Jordan Maguire-Drew just missed the far post.
As we approached the midway point of the first-half, Orient were continuing to pile the pressure on and it needed Reilly to clear Alabi’s header off the line and Dennis lifted the rebound over. Wimbledon’s midfield were struggling to pick-up the runners from deep as Orient poured forward at every opportunity. A Dons break did result in a half chance for Joe Pigott after he initially gave his marker the slip, but Marvin Ekpiteta did well to get back and get a block on the shot, allowing Orient keeper Sam Sargeant to save comfortably.
Wimbledon had a very good spell leading up to half-time with Mitch Pinnock at the heart of it. The midfielder, who had scored in his previous two games, struck a superb effort that Sam Sargeant did very well to stop and the Orient keeper reacted well to also deny Michael Folivi’s follow-up. Pinnock then shot just off target after Sargeant’s second save. The Dons had ended the first-half strongly following an opening spell when Orient had played very well after conceding the opener. It remained 1-0 to Wimbledon at half-time.
It didn’t take long for Wimbledon to double the advantage after the interval. Paul Osew cut inside and struck a shot with his right foot that Sargeant could only parry into the path of Michael Folivi, who made no mistake from close-range. Folivi showed good composure to strike his first goal of the season with a combination of Orient defender Jayden Sweeney and keeper Sargeant unable to stop him. Osew’s trickery and pace had once again caught the eye on the left flank, the 18-year-old’s bold attacking play showing no fear at senior level. After hitting the goal trail in the previous two games, more of the same was certainly most welcome for everyone in blue and yellow. Confidence was growing now and a third goal almost followed when Mitch Pinnock smashed into the side netting from an acute angle.
Glyn Hodges made a double change on the hour with Marcus Forss given a taste of the action up front, Pigott making way after his goalscoring contribution. Kyron Stabana also entered the fray at right-back to replace Wagstaff. Orient had a great chance to reduce the deficit through a penalty of their own with 20 minutes to play. After Paul Kalambayi was adjudged to have fouled Jordan Maguire-Drew in the box, Dale Gorman stepped up and struck a fine effort from 12 yards that was bound for the bottom corner, but Nathan Trott dived to his right to save superbly.
With 11 minutes to play, Wimbledon extended the advantage in fine style as Callum Reilly slotted home with a well placed effort into the bottom corner from outside the area. It had been much better from Wimbledon in the second-half and striking more midweek goals can certainly only be a positive heading into Saturday’s important away match at Southend United. Our league opponents at the weekend are also the team that Wimbledon will need a result against to progress in this competition with the final group match on Tuesday 12 November.
AFC Wimbledon: Nathan Trott, Terell Thomas, Scott Wagstaff (Kyron Stabana), Mitch Pinnock, Michael Folivi, Ryan Delaney, Max Sanders, Paul Kalambayi, Callum Reilly, Paul Osew (Nesta Guinness-Walker), Joe Pigott (Marcus Forss).
Pic credit: Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images.