WE watched for half an hour, frozen to the marrow, feet turning to blocks of ice, stoically hoping for something to happen when, out of nowhere, spectacularly, wonderfully, it did! Like a rescue flare released high to light up the gloom Wimbledon produced a most extraordinary five minutes to claim the three vital points, writes The Wizard of Oz.
It was bitingly cold at the Meadow, a chill wind and snow falling, but the game was on; the pitch looked a bit greasy but quite playable. Will Antwi came in for Pim Balkestein, while Sammy Moore was a late withdrawal.
Chris Hussey, who was to have a significant impact on the game, set the tone early when, on a slippery pitch that would have tested the balance of Torvill and Dean, he tried to dribble the ball out of his penalty area and lost it.
Wimbledon allowed Morecambe to take charge of the game playing as if suffering from a collective form of Daltonism, an affliction whereby a person cannot distinguish between the colour blue (Wimbledon) and the colour red (Morecambe).
Luke Moore was the one Wimbledon player to stand above the rest, calm and thoughtful on the ball, with time to play it. And, despite the poor level of football, the back four were tough and resilient. There was none of the catastrophic mistakes that have so blighted this season.
Alan Bennett had a header cleared off the line; Morecambe had a great chance when Harry Pell judged a ball to be going out, fortunately from the cut back, the shot was placed wide; Bennett produced a marvellous sliding block when Morecambe broke the offside line.
That was to be the best of Morecambe as two interventions by Hussey changed the shape of the game.
First, a sharp interception to stop a Morecambe attack: the ball was moved to Luke Moore whose excellent pass found Gary Alexander on the left, his cross was on the money and Kevin Saint-Luce, who had a very ordinary game to this point, forced the ball home.
The crowd couldn’t believe it, it was Wimbledon’s longest passing sequence – four passes, along the ground – where did that come from?
Secondly, a brilliant Hussey dribble down the left, beating two men and cutting into the penalty area: the cross was intercepted by a defender who seemed to have passed the ball into his own net until the keeper picked it up. Free kick! In the chocolate box. To the side of the goal but only metres away.
Morecambe built the wall but when Alexander belted the ball high to get it over some stupid defender had his hands in the air. Penalty! And Jack Midson doesn’t miss penalties.
In the second half Neal Ardley reshaped the side with Stacy Long replacing Saint-Luce. I know KSL scored but I don’t get the love for this player who runs around ineffectively like a headless chook. Wimbledon looked better for the change and were unlucky not to make it 3-0 when Antwi’s header was cleared off the line. They really looked like they wanted to go on with it.
Morecambe hardly troubled John Sullivan in goal as Wimbledon compressed them deep in their own half. Powerful aggressive tactics from Ardley, not pretty to watch, but it got the job done. Wimbledon showed today that they can no longer be bullied; the old Wimbledon is gradually returning.
It was a good day for Wimbledon, they have yet to lose at home since the New Year, and they are now, the Accrington result aside, very difficult to beat.
MoM was awarded to MMK but I thought Bennett was the best defender and I would have given it to him. Luke Moore gave an intelligent willing display for the team, Midson and Alexander held the ball up well and Hussey, who has his critics, stepped up with two moments of quality.