BY MATT VERRI AT THE CHERRY RED RECORDS STADIUM
As one impressive young Scandinavian on loan from Brentford left Wimbledon, another one seems to have arrived at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Mads Sorensen spoke of how important Marcus Forss was in convincing him to join the League One side for the rest of the season, but if the Dane’s man-of-the-match display on his debut against Peterborough is anything to go by he will do just fine in his friend’s absence.
It couldn’t have been a much tougher test for the Danish centre-back. Peterborough may have been in relatively poor form coming into the match, but their threat was obvious. Only Rotherham have scored more goals in the league than them this season, and captain Ivan Toney tops the scoring charts with 15 goals.
It took less than three minutes for Sorensen to make his mark with his first crunching tackle in a Wimbledon shirt, much to the enjoyment of the crowd. He and Toney tussled throughout the match, the pair spoken to by the referee on more than one occasion, but it was the defender who came out on top.
In the first 24 minutes alone Peterborough were called offside four times, the Dons’ backline standing firm as Toney and Mohamed Eisa threatened with their pace in behind.
Sorensen’s debut may have been centred on physicality at the back, but it was very nearly marked with a goal. Three minutes into the second half he met Callum Reilly’s corner at the near post and met it with a thundering header which Christy Pym parried over the bar.
Wimbledon’s goal came 58 minutes in, and by a more expected source. Mitch Pinnock and Joe Pigott were a constant threat for the hosts, working tirelessly to hold up the ball and bring others into play, and it was Pigott who got his reward.
Anthony Hartigan picked up the ball and drove into space, before laying it off to Nesta Guinness-Walker on the right wing. His cut-back found Pigott, who took his time to work space for a shot and fired past Pym.
Much like in the last home game against Southend, the Dons sat back and invited the pressure once they took the lead. Results have not necessarily matched performances in recent weeks at Wimbledon, with luck perhaps not on their side. Not so this time around.
Five minutes after the goal, Sammy Szmodics put Ricky-Jade Jones in on goal. Nathan Trott came flying out, but his sliding clearance cannoned off the striker and trickled back towards the goal and on to the post. Luke O’Neill smashed into the woodwork trying to clear the danger. Toney couldn’t convert the rebound, but it was a frantic few seconds that were only a sign of things to come.
No side has conceded more corners in League One than Wimbledon this season, and three of them for Peterborough in the six minutes of injury time threatened more late heartbreak for the hosts.
Szmodics’ shot deflected off Sorensen, and with Trott stranded the ball flicked just wide of the post. Reilly produced a stunning block to prevent Jones from levelling. It was only when Toney’s free-kick was blocked and cleared that the referee brought to an end a torturous last ten minutes for the hosts.
It was just a fourth clean sheet of the season in the league. All have come at home. This was a particularly deserved reward for a team who ground out a victory as hard-fought as they come.
Wimbledon have lost just one of their last nine matches at home. With three of their next four in familiar surroundings there is every chance they can start to pull away from the threat of relegation.
AFC Wimbledon (3-5-2): Trott 7, O’Neill 8, Thomas 7, Sorensen 9, McLoughlin 7, Sanders 6 (Wordsworth 39, 6), Hartigan 8, Reilly 7, Guinness-Walker 7 (Osew 73, 6), Pinnock 7, Pigott 8. Not used: McDonnell, McDonald, Appiah, Wood, Biler.