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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Al-Hamadi gives Dons fans another night to remember before he heads off on his travels

AFC Wimbledon (2) 5 Davison 4’, 51’ Lewis 42’, 90+2’ Al-Hamadi 67’

Colchester United (2) 3 McGeehan 7’ Taylor 25’ Dallison 90+4’

Ali Al-Hamadi gave Wimbledon fans something to remember him by for a month or possibly longer, producing another match-winning performance as the Dons saw off Colchester United.


The striker has been the subject of incessant transfer speculation ahead of the January window after scoring 15 goals in the first half of the season, and he is set to miss a number of games next month regardless after being selected to represent Iraq at the upcoming Asia Cup.


Although boss Johnnie Jackson will take heart from his short-term replacement Josh Davison finding the net twice in this one along with defender Joe Lewis, it was Al-Hamadi who once again stood out as the Dons took a stranglehold of an end-to-end game in the second half against out of form Colchester and moved back into the League Two play-off places.


It did not take long for Al-Hamadi to show Plough Lane crowd what it will be missing for at least the next few weeks, accelerating down the right with a ferociousness that few defences in this division or the one above would be able to handle before squaring for Josh Davison to net his first home league goal since September.


Even though the Dons were only level at the interval, there could be little doubt that Al-Hamadi was the game’s outstanding player. He should have restored the lead when he worked space for a shot on the edge of the box, and a delightful dribble and cross would have brought about a goal had Omar Bugiel’s header not been kept out by Owen Goodman.


For all their Iraqi superstar was making this look an easy contest against a side toying with relegation, slack defending soon left Wimbledon with work to do.


Noah Chilvers blasted over when through on goal just seconds after Davison’s equaliser, but midfield partner Cameron McGeehan kept his cool not long after to fire beyond Alex Bass from inside the box.


As dangerous as the home side looked when they won the ball back in the Colchester half, their defence struggled to get to grips with the visitors’ fluid attack. Chilvers found the side netting with a curling effort midway through the first half, and moments later a lapse at the back allowed Luton loanee Joe Taylor to race through and beat Bass at his near post.


Now staring at back-to-back home defeats for the first time since April, Jackson’s side re-found the resilience that has defined much of their season so far. Since going five games without a win in October, the Dons have won 10 of 12 matches in league and cup to reach the verge of the play-off places and set up a plum FA Cup third round tie against Ipswich next month.


Having seen his backline allow a long throw to bounce in the box for Sutton’s Boxing Day winner, Jackson would have been far happier with his side’s efforts from dead balls in this one. Lewis, who was returning from a suspension that ruled him out against Sutton, flicked home a corner from captain Jake Reeves to restore parity.


Lewis became an unlikely provider early in the second half as, after a spell of Dons pressure following the break, his long ball up field was brilliantly controlled by Davison before the forward lashed an effort home.


The striker, who has made just five league starts this term owing to the partnership between Al-Hamadi and Bugiel, almost had a hat-trick before the hour mark, only to see a poked shot scrambled off the line by an increasingly ragged Colchester defence.


The away side, who are currently being managed by former Tottenham and West Ham winger Matthew Etherington, were not able to regain their attacking rhythm and come from behind again. A late red card for McGeehan after he was booked twice in the space of a minute for getting on the wrong side of referee Ben Atkinson summing up their efforts.


Lewis and Colchester substitute Tom Dallison traded scrappy set-piece goals in stoppage time, but Al-Hamadi had already had the defining moment by then as he gathered an Armani Little pass before slotting beyond Goodman.


The home crowd were elated that the goal secured a place in the top seven to end the year, yet they will surely know that even if Monday’s trip to Forest Green is not the last they see of him, it is surely only a matter of time before he is testing himself at a higher level.


Wimbledon: (4-3-1-2) Bass – Biler, Lewis, Johnson, Currie – Reeves, Little, Lemonheigh-Evans – Bugiel (Pell 83), Al-Hamadi, Davison (Neufville 83). Subs not used: Tzanev, Brown, Tilley, Pearce, Ball.


Colchester: (4-4-2) Goodman – Greenidge (Dallison 59), Mitchell, Hall, Iandolo (Kazeem 59) – Fevrier, McGeehan, Read, Jay (Akinde 59)– Taylor, Chilvers. Subs not used: Hopper, Hornby, Cooper, Ihionvien.


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