Wycombe Wanderers 1
AFC Wimbledon 2
Appiah 29 Jervis 90
BY LAURENCE LOWNE AT ADAMS PARK
Wimbledon manager Wally Downes made some crucial changes to his starting team at Adams Park. He restored fit-again Kwesi Appiah and James Hanson to the starting eleven and gave keeper Tom King, on loan from Millwall, an opportunity to impress before the January transfer window opens.
Neither Darius Charles nor Adebayo Akinfenwa, who both previously played for the Dons, were in the starting line-up for Wycombe. The duo were given a warm welcome by supporters with pictures and autographs galore.
With manager Wally Downes and assistant Glyn Hodge in charge now for some three weeks, many supporters were beginning to wonder when they would see their impact?
Wait no longer, as a resolute display gave testimony to their influence.
A fine cross by Scott Wagstaff to the far post where Hanson lurked and headed down for Appiah to sweep home after five minutes – only for the referee to deem Hanson’s challenge to be a foul and disallowed the goal. This was not going to be the only time the referee would penalise Hanson for foul play as it became a running theme for John Busby to blow again and again. He gave the Wimbledon striker a harsh yellow card in the second half.
Hanson would shake his head in dismay as again and again the Wycombe players grabbed hold of his shirt with impunity to stop him running or jumping for the ball and were never penalised by the referee.
One would hope that the referee will learn from this when he sits down with the assessor to review his performance?
It was not all about Hanson, though since Wimbledon were playing to their strengths with Andy Barcham on the opposite wing showing fine pace and ability to swing in a number of crosses seeking out Hanson and midfielders alike.
One fell for Anthony Hartigan to connect with on the edge of the box, but his attempt went high.
At the other end, Wycombe were having chances too.
Two fell to Nathan Tyson, but even though unmarked he was unable to miss the target on each occasion.
One he headed over the bar and the other blasting wide.
It seemed likely Wycombe were not going to make it win number seven on the trot at home as Kwesi Appiah found the net in the 29th minute from a corner.
This corner routine had all the hallmarks of a Wimbledon goal as coached by Glyn Hodges.
Hartigan produced an accurate inswinger to the near post, flicked on by Hanson for Appiah to volley home.
Any Wimbledon supporter would recognise that routine immediately. It was almost poetry in motion.
Here is the interesting thing to take on board.
Wycombe had some chances, but the back five did not panic, stuck to their guns, kept their discipline and cleared their lines. Anthony Wordsworth and Jake Jervis, who had replaced the injured Scott Wagstaff in the 10th minute, were available and willing to run with the ball and take the pressure off.
The second half saw Wycombe reorganise and become encamped in the Dons half, but even with their possession they failed to create openings worthy of the name.
In fact Wimbledon started breaking with speed from defence and playing the ball up to the big man.
Shades of Dave Bassett’s management style.
The solid defence was down to the coaching of Downes and then the organisation on the break had the influence of Simon Bassey and Hodges. The players knew what thy had to do and where to go.
There is though a danger of sitting on a lead, and here, King had to earn this money.
When Alex Samuel broke free and he has been prolific in recent games for Wycombe, the on-loan Lions shotstopper bravely smothered the goalbound shot, then a second shot came in and captain Will Nightingale was alive to blocking this one from Fred Onyedinma. It was great defensive work.
In reality though these were the two clearest chances and Wycombe’s other attempts were powder puff to the extent that when Tom Soares broke free and quickly fed the ball to Appiah, who in turn passed to the supporting Tyler Garratt and he pinged in a cross of pace and accuracy, Jervis simply had to be there to volley home from within the six yard box.
It was a delight to see planning and coaching coming to the fore.
Interestingly this was the first goal Jervis had scored in 364 days, and what a great one too – a proper team effort in the last minute of normal time.
Wycombe gained a consolation in the second minute of added time. There were questions of offside, first phases, second phases and more.
Wimbledon have been on the receiving end of some contentious decisions at Adams Park in previous seasons and Busby wasn’t going to disappoint after overruling his assistant for waving offside.
Onyedinma took advantage from close range. Hodges was spotted discussing the decision with the fourth official, but the referee was never going to change his mind even after consulting his assistant.
Three minutes more were played until the final whistle sounded and Wally and Glyn were up and running with their first win.
Now Plymouth Argyle come visiting on Boxing Day.
Jake Jervis managed to miss a more or less open goal at Home Park in the fixture earlier in the season and now he has found his shooting boots again, perhaps supporters will not need to wait 364 days for his next goal?
AFC Wimbledon: (4-4-2): King 7, Watson 7, Purrington 7, Nightingale 8, Thomas 7, Wagstaff (Jervis 10, 7), Hartigan 7, Barcham (Garratt 88), Appiah 7, Hanson 7 (Soares 82), Wordsworth 7.
Not used: McDonnell, Trotter, Kalambayi, Burey.
IMAGE BY PAUL EDWARDS