FC Halifax Town 1
Hanson 86 og
AFC Wimbledon 3
Purrington 42 Wordsworth 73 Pigott 75
By Dave Hunt-Jackson at The MBi Shay
AFC Wimbledon reached the third round of the FA Cup for the fourth time in five years with an ultimately convincing win against National League side FC Halifax Town at the refurbished Shay Stadium.
Left-back Ben Purrington got his first goal for the club, there was a class finish from Anthony Wordsworth and a poacher’s one for Joe Pigott.
Last time the Dons were in these parts – the 1982-3 season – there was a speedway track around the ground. For that matter, there was still a speedway track in Wimbledon.
There was a sentimental note to this fixture as Halifax were Wimbledon’s first ever league opponents in 1977.
This time around there was a two-division gap and in the end it showed as the hosts ran out of steam and the South Londoners showed their class with a superb strike from Wordsworth book-ended by a deflected effort from Purrington and Pigott’s close-range strike.
Simon Bassey has now matched his previous performance as interim manager with two wins in his four games with the club delaying the announcement of Neal Ardley’s replacement on the eve of the tie.
Under Bassey performances have improved, albeit with just one win in the three league games, leading to the view that this squad may yet be good enough to rescue AFC Wimbledon’s League One status.
Wally Downes, set to be confirmed on a two-and-a-half-year contract this week, has no recent experience of managing and has spent the last few years coaching in India. He is nevertheless a very well regarded coach and the man who invented the Crazy Gang. The Dons needs to squeeze every inch out of their ability, especially until they can strengthen in January and they need to play with fire in their bellies.
For many AFC Wimbledon supporters, Downes has the credentials to succeed on both counts.
There will be those who see this as another example of an appointment made on sentiment with an ex-player who “gets” Wimbledon and they may well be right – but keeping things in house did not do the Liverpool side of the late 70s and early 80s any harm – and Downes’ predecessor had his successes.
One thing is clear, regardless of what January may bring both in terms of personnel changes and FA Cup revenue, the games between now and then are vital – starting with the visit of Rochdale.
By steadying the ship and guiding Wimbledon into the third round of the FA Cup, Bassey will once again hand over the baton with the club in a stronger position than when he stepped in.
The club owes him a further debt of thanks.
AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): McDonnell 7, McDonald 7 Purrington 7, Pinnock 7, Oshilaja 8, Soares 6 (Trotter 63, 5) Nightingale 6, Wordsworth 7 (Wagstaff 74, 6) , Jervis 7 (Hanson 74, 6), Pigott 7, Hartigan 7. Not used: King,Thomas, Watson, Burey.
Photos by Sean Gosling