We didn’t deserve to lose that game but we certainly didn’t deserve to win. I’ll take an undeserved win over a heroic draw any day of the week.
City came into this game ‘buzzing’ from a 3-3 draw against Sheffield United. For all the back slapping from the managers, any reasonably sane City fan would know that we can’t go on with a defence that leaky, even if we were playing the form side of the division.
Would McCall stick with McArdle at right back or would he bring back the more conventional Darby?
The team sheets were announced and a back four of Darby, Vincelot, NKP and Kilgallon would start. What worried me a bit was that Wimbledon’s direct approach might target Vincelot’s height disadvantage against Dons striker, Tom Elliott.
The Dons didn’t start with the direct approach that I thought they would. They tried to play along the floor, which came as a surprise. Having 5 in midfield, they maybe thought they could make the extra body count, rather than missing them out completely and fighting for second balls. This approach came to be their undoing for the first goal. A misplaced pass from top striker, Lyle Taylor, ended up with City counter-attacking from midfield, with Law setting up Hiwula to put City 1-0 up within 5 minutes.
It looked like City would kick on, we played some neat stuff, as always, in the middle but rarely threatened the Dons goal, attacks fizzling out around the 18 yard box as has been the case a lot this season. Wimbledon changed it up and started to go more direct, Elliott winning all his duels against Vincelot. Their goal came from a free kick, pumped into the box. Hanson, doing his defensive duties, went up with Elliott and just got his head to the ball. Unfortunately, the ball wasn’t cleared and Elliott reacted quickest for a fine strike into the roof of the net.
The rest of the half, City huffed and puffed but Billy Clarke in particular, was wasteful on the ball and attacks kept breaking down.
The second half seemed much of the same, City came out the quicker and had some decent forays into the Wimbledon half, again, without any clear cut chances. McCall had to change it up and did with McNulty and Marshall coming on for Hiwula and Clarke. Then, a contentious penalty. I was in the home end for this game as I didn’t manage to secure an away ticket. From where we were, Wimbledon attacked from a City corner through Barcham on the wing. He was up against 2 City defenders, including a scrambling Josh Cullen. He played a reverse into Jake Reeves who got into the penalty area and Cullen slid in. Realising he wouldn’t get to the ball, Cullen ended up sliding on his knees. Barely any contact, if at all and Reeves went flying. The referee had no hesitation to point to the spot but there were embarrassed laughs around me as the Dons fans didn’t think it was either. Lyle Taylor stepped up and City were now 2-1 down.
Cullen was withdrawn immediately and replaced with Morais. City now had two wingers on and started to peg back a worried looking Wimbledon side, with 25 minutes still to go.
After a few dangerous looking attacks, City got a penalty of their own, 10 minutes after Wimbledon’s. Kilgallon went up for a header and was taken out by the Dons keeper. Another contentious decision. It looked soft, maybe the ref was evening it up. Hanson stepped up and got a vital equaliser. 2-2.
The game appeared to be fizzling out, a draw probably a fair result on the balance of play. City then got a fantastic winner with the ball being clipped in from Darby on the right and Hanson’s accurate glancing header creeping into the far post, almost like slow motion. City fans went mental, including a couple in front of me in the home end. Oops. 3-2 and the Dons almost equalised with the last kick of the game when Tyrone Barnett missed by inches.
There was a deflated feeling around the home end, understandably. City probably didn’t deserve to win but we played the better football. 6 goals in the last two games suggests that we’re probably better going forward than we think. I feel we need to sort the CB problem. Vincelot is starting to get found out by anyone taller than 6ft. Cullen had an off game by his standards but Law and Dieng were outstanding, pretty much carrying our midfield.
Questions remain about the recent leakage of goals but it is good to see us scoring more frequently. It’s also good to Hanson playing so well yesterday. It’s funny how everytime you speak to opposition fans, they always fear Hanson, yet some of our own fans give him such a hard time. Hiwula and Hanson now have 2 goals in the last 2 games. That’s something to build on.
Doyle – 6 – Not called upon much but was steady.
Darby – 7 – Quelled a lot of their attacks on the left. Kept Taylor quiet on the whole.
Vincelot – 5 – Struggled to control Elliott. I like his general play and distribution but it’s time we had a proper CB there.
NKP – 6 – Steady, cut out some dangerous attacks and mopped up Elliott’s flick ons.
Kilgallon – 7 – Played very well and involved for the penalty. Doing well standing in.
Dieng – 8 – If teams are going to try play along the floor, they won’t get through him
Law – 8 – My MOTM. Everything went through him and he set up so many attacks.
Cullen – 6 – The game seemed to pass him by, perhaps in need of a rest.
Clarke – 5 – Very poor today. One marauding run into their half in the second half but other than that, he isn’t what we need against physical teams.
Hiwula – 7 – Starting to really like him, he’s not going to to run for 90 minutes but you can see what the confidence of scoring does for him.
Hanson – 8 – Winning free kicks? Really? Not something that happens often with big Jim but he got his goals, held up the ball well and caused their defence issues. The haters can be quiet, for a week anyway.