AFC Wimbledon produced a display full of spirit and resilience to secure a first victory since returning to Plough Lane.
Promotion contenders Peterborough were defeated 2-1, thanks to goals by Ryan Longman and Joe Pigott. However, it was Wimbledon's commitment to the cause from the whole team that really impressed as the Dons dug deep to repel a side with so much attacking talent. Even though Posh had ample time to snatch a point with a goal back in the 71st minute, Wimbledon showed real defiance to hold onto the points.
The game started with a clear pattern set as Peterborough dominated early possession and Wimbledon had to stay in a good defensive shape. The visitors sprayed the ball around well in the opening exchanges, but the Dons got in vital challenges when required, managing to frustrate a side chasing promotion into the Championship. Posh created a great chance through lovely play by their attacking talent Sirike Dembele, who found space down the right before setting up Ryan Broom, who cracked a shot against the crossbar.
The Dons had been restricted to fleeting moments of attacking threat, and it really needed players to provide support for the forward partnership of Joe Pigott and Ryan Longman whenever possible. Cheye Alexander did exactly that when he sent over a lovely ball from the left that Pigott was just unable to get on the end of, and subsequent penalty appeals were turned away. Jack Rudoni also sent in a dangerous corner delivery that almost deceived Peterborough keeper Christy Pym, but he recovered well to gather the ball.
Just before the half hour came Wimbledon’s best moment so far when Ryan Longman showed good movement to set-up a shooting opportunity for Joe Pigott, who got his shot on target, but Pym parried the effort to safety. That was a rare foray forward for Wimbledon in a first-half when Glyn’s boys had to really dig in to stay in it. There was a moment of threat from Peterborough when Jack Taylor’s shot was deflected just wide. As the pressure started to build in the latter stages of the first-half, Dan Csoka was required to make a vital last-ditch clearance to stop the visitors taking the lead.
In the final moments of the first-half, more superb play down the right by Dembele set-up Sammie Szmodics, but Connal Trueman did very well to come out quickly and smother the ball. Though Peterborough had controlled possession, Wimbledon could take encouragement from hanging in there with resolute defending, while looking dangerous on the break.
The second-half started with Wimbledon showing more attacking ambition and the ultimate reward came in the 54th minute. Jack Rudoni showed good movement to create space for a shot and Pym could only parry his shot into the path of Longman, who showed real sharpness to follow-up and slot home. Though Peterborough attempted to strike back immediately, Wimbledon stayed strong in defence, and the advantage was doubled on the hour. Jack Rudoni sent over a lovely corner from the left that caused panic in the Peterborough defence and when an attempted clearance rebounded into Joe Pigott’s path, our top scorer made no mistake.
At 2-0 up with half an hour to go, Wimbledon were in a great position to earn a first victory since returning to Plough Lane. However, the advantage was reduced in the 71st minute when Jonson Clarke-Harris curled superbly around the wall and into the bottom corner, leaving Connal Trueman with no chance. As the pressure started to build, Dembele appeared certain to score when he found space in the box, but Ben Heneghan got in a last-ditch block to stop his shot finding the back of the net.
Unsurprisingly, Peterborough piled forward in the latter stages, but Wimbledon stayed disciplined in defence to frustrate the visitors. Former Peterborough midfielder Alex Woodyard made a vital contribution in the centre of the park, alongside Anthony Hartigan, who produced a tireless display in his fifth match in 11 days. It could have been game over with two minutes of normal time left. Joe Pigott's free-kick thudded off the crossbar, and away to safety, but two turned out to be enough to earn victory with the Dons defending valiantly during five minutes of injury-time.
AFC Wimbledon: Connal Trueman, Dan Csoka (Terell Thomas), Alex Woodyard, Will Nightingale, Cheye Alexander, Anthony Hartigan, Jack Rudoni (Callum Reilly), Nesta Guinness-Walker, Ben Heneghan, Ryan Longman (Ethan Chislett), Joe Pigott.