BY MAX HALL
First-half goals from Wimbledon’s Scott Wagstaff and Joe Pigott set up a much-needed win against an Oxford side who have also started the League One season slowly. Although Cameron Brannagan’s strike, just before the break, pegged them back, the hosts were rarely troubled as they controlled the second half.
Dons keeper Joe McDonnell had been called into action early on, supplying a flying one-handed save to tip over Brannagan’s rising drive in the eighth minute, and Tennai Watson had to chest behind a dangerous cross from Gavin Whyte four minutes later, as the Us started brightly.
Wimbledon stood their ground though, and began to find their rhythm before taking a 20th minute lead, when Andy Barcham cut back in on his right foot and delivered a cross Jake Jervis flicked on for Wagstaff to head into a gaping net.
The hosts deservedly doubled their lead in the 32nd minute, when Ben Purrington’s ball down the left channel completely flummoxed central defender John Mousinho, who tried unsuccessfully to haul down Pigott, the Dons target man keeping his feet to drill in a low effort.
Just as Neal Ardley’s side appeared in full control, Brannagan burst into the box and fired past McDonnell a minute before the break, finishing coolly moments after the ball ricocheted up into his arm or chest, although there was no strong appeal.
Ricky Holmes blazed over seven minutes into the second half after a string of Wimbledon defenders failed to halt James Henry’s progress into the area and Whyte then sent a shot wide as Oxford’s approach play was let down by their finishing.
The visitors managed a flurry of late corners as nerves set in amongst Wimbledon’s young team but an equaliser would have been really harsh.
Wimbledon (4-4-2): McDonnell, Watson (Nightingale, 81), Oshilaja, McDonald, Purrington, Soares, Wagstaff, Trotter, Barcham (Wordsworth, 68), Jervis, Pigott (Appiah, 68). Subs not used: King, Hartigan, Pinnock, Garratt.
Oxford: Mitchell, Long, Nelson, Mousinho, Garbutt, Brannagan, Hanson (Baptiste, 56), Whyte (Smith, 79), Henry, Holmes, Obika (Mackie, 70). Subs not used: Shearer, Dickie, McMahon, Ruffels.
IMAGES BY PAUL EDWARDS