AFC WIMBLEDON 2
Trotter 49 Pigott 77
BY LAURENCE LOWNE AT THE CHERRY RED RECORDS STADIUM
Neal Ardley did a shrewd bit of business last week, signing Joe Pigott from Maidstone United.
AFC Wimbledon signing Pigott started repaying that faith – and a nominal fee – with his first goal from an assist by Liam Trotter, who in his own way is beginning to carve his name into Wimbledon legendary status. Trotter has been accused of being cumbersome and slow by some supporters, but his late arrival into the penalty box, saw him break the deadlock and become top-scorer in 2018 with two goals.
Another player who scored many goals by timing his breaks into the box perfectly was Robbie Earle, so long may these late forays continue.
Dons boss Ardley made one change to the side that drew the previous week, bringing back George Long to replace Joe McDonnell.
Long had next to nothing to do, except deal with one shot on target in the whole match from former Wimbledon youngster Dan Agyei, who is on loan with Blackpool from Burnley, and a number of crosses into the box in very wet conditions, often opting to punch, rather than catch, since there were opposition players charging in. It proved a wise decision.
All in all this was a comfortable run out for the team as they recorded three home league wins on the spin and three consecutive clean sheets.
Wimbledon are now solid at the back, solid in midfield and scoring goals.
They are seventh in the form table, Ardley said: “In the early season when we were not winning enough games, I looked at several reports people had done on League One and their comments were, ‘I cannot quite work out why Wimbledon are in that position’. The stats and the expected goals certainly did not tell you that.”
Having tried an expansive game earlier in the season, a more pragmatic approach is paying dividends. They have two games in hand on those above them.
The Dons’ minus-seven goal difference is the best amongst the bottom sides, and perhaps caution first is the way forward?
The first-half saw little in what would be classed as fireworks. Left winger Andy Barcham gave Kelvin Mellor a torrid time and together with the supporting Deji Oashilaja swung in several delicious crosses, which were not met by forwards. The lack of height was evident.
Ardley changed his tactics at half-time, switching from a 3-5-2 to 4-3-3 after Blackpool withdrew Sessi D’Almedia and replaced him with the more direct Callum Cooke.
That change helped the Dons more than Blackpool, and an early breakthrough arrived. Long launched a delightful ball into the penalty box for Cody McDonald to latch onto, control and shoot. Keeper Joe Lumley saved but the ball fell nicely for Trotter to sweep home in the 49th minute.
Blackpool were forced into a more adventurous activity and piled in the crosses and forced a few corners. For all their domination, not a single shot on target was recorded.
Within minutes of his introduction, Pigott was fouled on the halfway line.
The free-kick was fed into the box and only half-cleared, Trotter immediately returned it and there was the former Charlton forward to lash home past a despairing Lumley in the 77th minute.
Pigott adds a missing dimension – extra height up front, speed of thought and pace too.
Away to Bradford City beckons on Saturday and meeting up again with former Dons Jake Reeves and Don Poleon.