Battling Wimbledon impress to see off Posh
AFC WIMBLEDON 2 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 1
AFC Wimbledon held on to earn a first win at their new Plough Lane home, after a battling performance against Peterborough.
It took a brace of second half goals from Ryan Longman and Joe Pigott to earn all three points against a visiting team who will consider themselves a little unfortunate not to have at least claimed something. Although Jonson Clarke-Harris pulled one back, the Posh will likely rue the fact they couldn’t make capital from a first half they largely dominated.
Of course these are early days in fresh surroundings for the Dons, but this was an entertaining affair and brighter times appear to lie ahead in south-west London for Glyn Hodges’ side.
The Dons were hoping for third time lucky to carve out a maiden victory at their new home; a stadium which will generate a spicy atmosphere due to its compact and enclosed nature. That much is guaranteed.
Indeed, there is a real sense that the yearning from Dons fans to safely return to Plough Lane since their 1991 exile is growing daily. Still, in the grand scheme of things, what is another few weeks or so? Soon, the new place will be fully unwrapped for a one-time reluctant, nomadic support to finally, and deservedly, settle into. For the moment, Hodges’ players had to settle for the occasional – and strangely authentic mono-sounding – blasts of “Wimbledon!” and “Come on you Dons!” from the PA system.
As far as Wimbledon’s League One campaign was concerned in the build-up to Peterborough’s visit, it was very much a case of mixed fortunes. Fifteenth in the table and coming to terms with last weekend’s surprise FA Cup second round exit at home to Crawley Town, this term has the unmistakeable sheen of a work-in-progress both on and off the pitch.
Peterborough, meanwhile, in their garish pink change strip, demonstrated early on why they are currently third and just a shade off the automatic promotion slots, by enjoying most of the possession in the hosts’ half. Yet for all their bright league form, the Posh were also on the receiving end of a cup upset, losing to Chorley of the National League North.
It took a full half hour for Wimbledon to properly threaten, though, as they belatedly began to assert themselves. Picking up possession on the edge of the Peterborough penalty area, Longman slipped a ball to Pigott, whose side-footed drive simply didn’t carry sufficient power to unduly trouble visiting keeper Christy Pym.
Moments later, Peterborough responded - Jack Taylor’s impressive shot from 18 yards was turned away by Dons' glove man Connal Trueman. But both sides had to settle for a goalless first half, and Darren Ferguson will have wondered why his men were not ahead.
Posh found the hosts more aggressive after the interval as it turned out – and Wimbledon’s enterprise was rewarded when they took the lead in the 54th minute. Pym could only parry a close range shot from Jack Rudoni, and the ball fell kindly, amid a packed six yard area, for Longman to tuck in.
This was certainly a different Dons in action, pressing United in a manner which appeared to take them by surprise. Subsequently, Longman’s strike partner, Pigott, made sure he was in the right place at the right time to add to the lead in 61 minutes. The hit man netted his eighth goal of the season, forcing the ball home after Peterborough failed to clear a corner.
Rallied into action at last, the Posh responded to halve the deficit in 71 minutes. Clarke-Harris took aim from a 20 yard free kick and curled it low past Trueman into the left hand side of the net. It was a spark which certainly rallied Ferguson in his technical area.
Naturally, the goal boosted Peterborough and a resumption of the first half trend set in, the Dons requiring to work hard to keep shape out of possession. The question was: could they hold on for that first victory?
Posh midfielder Louis Reed came close to a leveller - a long range shot which skipped inches over in the closing minutes. Nevertheless, Pigott could have added a late third only to see his cute free kick clip the bar.
Wimbledon, in the end, did what they needed to do to hold on. Most encouragingly for Hodges and all the expectant Dons fans, some quiet confidence is now beginning to lap along the banks of the River Wandle.
AFC Wimbledon: Trueman, Nightingale, Heneghan, Csoka (Terell-Thomas 82), Alexander, Woodyard, Hartigan, Rudoni (Reilly 90), Guinness-Walker, Longman (Chislett 86), Pigott