Tuesday 20th March 2012 ko 7.45pm
OXFORD UNITED 1 (Morgan 57)
AFC WIMBLEDON 0
Att 6,366 (362 away)
Programme £3 (inc Oxford Mail)
So, those of you who weren’t there will look at the score, and think, play-off side struggles to beat lower-table side, in a dour encounter. And you’d be right, except for the last 4 words. For at no point did this game look like ending nil-nil, as both sides played good passing football, but with a frustrating lack of end product.
As a little aside, the first time I watched AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow they were playing AFC Wallingford in a Combined Counties League game. How times change, as Wimbledon have been promoted 6 times to reclaim the league place that had been stolen from them. Poor old Wallingford now languish at the bottom of the North Berkshire League’s top flight. By my reckoning, there’s now 7 promotions between the two clubs. And to square the circle, North Berkshire League Press Officer Phil Annets was watching the game from one of the executive boxes!
Oxford looked capable of tearing their visitors apart, but at times looked lopsided, with Dean Morgan looking lost for much of the first half. Not withstanding that, its was refreshing to see both sides play an attractive passing game, with Oxford’s Adam Chapman, and Andy Whing both going close with a free kick and close-range header respectively. For Wimbledon George Moncur’s shot was well smothered by Ryan Clarke.
Its was a little suprising that United made no change at half time, as they had looked a tweak away from looking really convincing. As usual Chris Wilder showed why he’s the manager and I’m sat typing this, as a glorious passing move led to the goal. After a series of passes, Scott Rendell moved the ball wide, and Asa Hall’s flicked back-heel found Morgan on the left. His shot seemed to come from nothing, and was from an acute angle, but it flashed past Seb Brown, and into the top right corner.
After that United looked happy to attack sporadically, and defend in numbers. Oli Johnson headed on to the bar following a quite wonderful Peter Leven free kick, and the visitors were limited to just two chances. Sammy Moore’s 25 yard shot found the car park when it should have found the goal, and the only real scare came at the end of injury time. Leven was adjudged to have fouled on the edge of the box, a decision that angered Chris Wilder sufficiently for him to be dismissed from the technical area. The shot was driven in, Clarke parried, and Andy Whing blocked twice to keep Wimbledon out.
And it was the popular full back/midfielder/centre half that summed the last few minutes to me. Not pretty, but wholly committed and always gets the job done. Cheltenham away, I suspect will be a different challenge all together.