IF you suffer from high blood pressure, if you have any sort of heart problems, stay away from Kingsmeadow! This display from a spirited Wimbledon was not for those of a nervous disposition, writes the Wizard of Oz.
Wimbledon finally found the secret to winning: score more goals than your opponent, but along the way they kept us all on edge as the defence again leaked soft goals.
Under grey but mild skies the Dons were well up for this. Apart from a trademark Pim Balkestein miscue in the opening seconds they took the game to York. Fine work from Jack Midson set Brennan Dickenson free and his sharp early ball almost produced a goal for Rashid Yussuff but he couldn’t get the decisive touch.
The lady next to me in the stand said “I have Gary Alexander in the Dons Draw to score in the ninth minute”, and, on cue, he almost did, but awkwardly scuffed an angled chance from Dickenson’s cross. She theatrically tore up her ticket and threw it in the air.
Moments later Balkestein, who in the first half won every header, almost scored at the near post and from the scramble Midson just failed to score. Sammy Moore had a dig from the edge of the box, it lacked conviction and was wide, but at least Wimbledon were playing positive football.
At one point in an impressive first half York had a throw-in and the entire Wimbledon side, apart from goalkeeper John Sullivan, was encamped ten metres in York’s half; the equivalent of basketball’s half-court press. Considering how deep our back four used to sit it was an impressive statement of intent.
It was all Wimbledon and their opening goal was well deserved although from an unlikely source and in an unlikely manner. Mat Mitchel-King’s goal would have graced any stage; an exquisite highly skilled volley from the edge of the penalty area. The crowd, an impressive near full house, roared its approval.
The York equaliser came from probably their first decent attack of the game. Wimbledon lost possession in midfield, I thought Sammy Moore dwelt too long on the ball, and play broke down the left and from the cross York’s Chris Smith had too much time and space to place his header.
It is probably asking too much of this season’s Wimbledon to learn how to defend from broken play but he was unmarked and that should not be allowed to happen.
It was 1-1 at half-time with Wimbledon very unlucky when Gary Alexander’s header beat the keeper but not the bar in the closing moments.
Wimbledon started brightly in the second half and Dickenson’s direct running almost gave Alexander another chance. Balkestein had a looping header tipped over by the goalkeeper and then when Harry Pell’s cross-cum-shot found Midson’s boot, probably inadvertently, it fell kindly for the keeper to save.
The attacking pressure had to pay off and it did as Midson, who put in another hard working shift, did well to half win a header and Dickenson stole in to take the ball round the keeper and slot the ball home.
Unfortunately Dickenson, who had a real impact on the game, had to be replaced because of injury. Kevin Sainte-Luce came on and Wimbledon were the poorer for it. KSL may have scored an impressive winner the other week but he was wholly underwhelming against York: he barely touched the ball and when he did he was tossed around like a paper bag in the wind by York’s muscular defenders.
Wimbledon’s defence sadly, is as reliable as a car salesman’s handshake, and when York were awarded a free kick to the left of Wimbledon’s area you could feel the sense of anxiety emanating around Kingsmeadow. That York scored, a low driven kick somehow turned in, was met with a sense of inevitability by the suddenly deflated crowd.
Jesse Darko had replaced Midson but, like KSL, it gave York an invitation back into the game as he too had little impact. These were nervous moments but gloriously Wimbledon were not finished and when Pell broke into the penalty area and scored off the post the joy was everywhere.
York had one last hurrah, a wicked volley from distance but Sullivan was up to it and when the final whistle went there were huge smiles, and sighs of relief.
I gave my MoM to Brennan Dickenson, who had a telling influential game until his injury; Alan Bennett and Gary Alexander were leaders on the pitch, and Balkestein played well, especially dominant in the first half.
John Sullivan, eliciting an early “Sully! Sully! Sully” cheer from the Tempest End, could do little about their goals and showed an alertness to sweep beyond his penalty area.
Time’s running out to vote in WDSA’s latest poll. Here’s your chance….