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Match Reports

Dons strike five in rampant away display

Ollie Palmer and Ayoub Assal share four goals

10 April 2021

AFC Wimbledon produced one of the best away displays since returning to the league in 2011 with a stunning victory at Accrington Stanley today.

Ollie Palmer was simply superb up front, producing his best display in a Dons shirt with two goals and an assist, and 19-year-old Ayoub Assal again highlighted his rich potential with a notable double of his own. The 5-1 win, Joe Pigott struck the other goal with a fantastic free-kick, moved Wimbledon out of the relegation zone. Mark Robinson had stressed in recent weeks that the performance levels had been good, particularly at Plymouth recently, and his side added the missing ingredient today - goals! 

It certainly didn't start well at Accrington today. Nik Tzanev made a fine save to palm away a fierce drive by Matt Butcher. However, it was only a temporary reprieve for the Dons. Sean McConville’s corner was flicked on by Cameron Burgess, and Michael Nottingham rose highest in the box to head home. It was a disappointing goal to concede, as Wimbledon were caught out from a simple set piece. Considering our previous visits to Accrington, there was a real sinking feeling for anyone who has followed the Dons over the years – yet another early goal conceded at The Wham Stadium.

Despite the early blow of falling behind, Wimbledon produced a spirited response. Ayoub Assal was finding space in the attacking midfield role and he did very well to pick out Luke O’Neill, but his cross was just cut out. However, Wimbledon continued to bang on the door and the equaliser followed in the 21st minute. A good move by the Dons ended with a cross by Nesta Guinness-Walker cut out for a corner. There was certainly a helping hand for Wimbledon to strike the equaliser, as Accrington goalkeeper Toby Savin made a hash of the subsequent corner, and Palmer was in the right place to head home.

As we progressed towards the half hour mark, Wimbledon had really come into this game, but Accrington still maintained a threat. Paul Smyth struck an effort on goal that Tzanev was forced to save and the hosts had a goal correctly ruled out for offside. In a first-half that ebbed and flowed, Wimbledon came so close to taking the lead through Joe Pigott, who turned inside and unleashed a superb effort that flashed just wide. Crosses into the box were causing panic in the Accrington defence with Palmer’s power and strength making it very difficult for the hosts. Savin dropped a cross and the ball fell for Nightingale, but he was only able to direct the ball off target. However, it was only a temporary reprieve – and the Dons scored in style. Luke O’Neill sent over a lovely cross from the right that Jack Rudoni headed back to find Palmer, and he struck his second goal.

The second Wimbledon goal came in the 43rd minute, but there was still time for another in first-half injury-time. Palmer chased down a lost cause, before playing a one-two with Nesta Guinness-Walker, and the Dons forward sent over a lovely cross that found Ayoub Assal. There was still plenty to do for Assal from an acute angle, but he scored with a sublime looping header.

The margin of Wimbledon’s lead was fully deserved, and now it was a test to keep it going and not let Accrington gain a foothold in the game during the second-half. The hosts almost halved the deficit when Smyth tried to lob Tzanev and it was a fine effort, but the ball landed just wide of the far post. That proved to be important when the Dons increased the advantage through Joe Pigott and what a goal it was too, our top scorer curling home a free-kick in superb style, Savin left with no chance.

The fourth goal in the 57th minute was a killer goal, but there was more to follow. George Dobson, who was impressive again in the midfield engine room alongside Rudoni and Alex Woodyard, won a header in midfield that picked out Assal, who finished emphatically with a cool finish past Savin. The Dons had never had it so good at Accrington, scene of many difficult days in the past. However, it was almost six when Rudoni tried his luck, but his shot was well saved by Savin. Ben Heneghan received a second booking near the end, but his sending off certainly didn't sour a wonderful away day for Wimbledon. The final whistle signalled the end of a simply brilliant away display from the Dons, offering renewed hope that League One survival will be achieved. 

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Luke O’Neill (Cheye Alexander), Alex Woodyard, Will Nightingale, Ollie Palmer (Shane McLoughlin), Jack Rudoni, Ayoub Assal (Paul Osew), Nesta Guinness-Walker, Ben Heneghan, George Dobson (Jaakko Oksanen), Joe Pigott (Ryan Longman).

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