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  • By Yann Tear at Plough Lane

Relief for Dons as second half goals put paid to Walsall and end dire run of results


AFC Wimbledon (0) 2 Nightingale 59, Al-Hamadi 74

Walsall (0) 0

Will Nightingale’s first goal of the campaign and a close-range prod from sub Ali Al-Hamadi gave AFC Wimbledon a first win in 12 as they brought their wretched recent run to an end.


Both goals came from Armani Little corners in the second half – the first a header from the Dons’ central defender which found the top corner, the second coming after a goalmouth scramble at the near post.


Al-Hamadi had only just come on for Saikou Janneh and the Iraqi international now has seven goals in Dons colours since his move from Wycombe.


Victory will come as a blessed relief for the Dons, who may be comfortably above the drop zone but were desperate to end an alarming slide down the League Two table since a 1-0 home win over Stockport in January.


They had only scored 11 in 15 games since the turn of the year too, so this evening felt like something of a luxury to those in the South London Movers Stand anxious for a change of fortune.


It was a nervy but deserved win. In his programme notes, Johnnie Jackson had demanded less caution and more decisiveness in the final third and the early signs were that his players had taken that message on board.


Excellent work from Ethan Chislett created two good openings in the opening 10 minutes, with Kasey McAteer sliding a low shot just wide of the far post and Alex Woodyard having a close-range header tipped over by Saddlers keeper Owen Evans.


But that early promise gave way to some very ordinary fare as a lack of confidence threatened to once again undermine them. Yet they managed to impose themselves again in the second half and once they had broken the deadlock, they always looked like seeing it out.


Luckily, Walsall are also a team struggling in the lower reaches of the division. They have only one win in 16 now and only recently ended a run of 13 without a victory. They have not won on the road since Boxing Day and this was probably a good time for the Dons to play them.


The Midlanders produced very little to trouble youngster Nathan Broome. The keeper's only serious piece of work was a first-half dive to his left to keep out a header from Conor Wilkinson and a leap to tip another late header over.


Dons fans vented their frustration at the team in the last home game – an abject 1-0 home defeat to Crawley – but they will have left feeling a whole lot better this time.


They have the chance to build on that with a home game against Rochdale on Saturday and the season could yet end on a happier note, although they cannot be sure that Al-Hamadi will play a part. The striker took a knock and had to come off before the end.



Dons: (4-2-3-1) Broome – Ogundere, Nightingale, Pierre, Currie – Woodyard, Marsh – McAteer, Little, Chislett – Janneh (Al-Hamadi 69) (Pearson 87). Subs not used: Griffiths, Bendle, Adeji-Hersey, Jenkins, Bartley


Saddlers: (4-3-1-2) Evans – White (Songo’o 69), Daniels, McEntee (James-Taylor 77), Monthe – Kinsella (Labadie 77), Riley, Williams (Stevens 69) – Hutchinson – Knowles (Allen 69), Wilkinson. Subs not used: Smith, Labadie, Low


Attendance: 6,809

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