Two John O’Flynn
first half goals settled this attractive SkyBet League Two fixture at a damp St James Park.
On a day when the club celebrated the historic links with Brazil fittingly in front of Brazilian TV cameras, the weather was not at all Brazilian but the football at times approached it. It could be said that, with City in yellow shirts for the day, it was almost like watching Brazil!
Manager, Paul Tisdale, surprised the SJP faithful by handing a debut to first year pro, Matt Grimes, and there was also a welcome return to first team action for Matt Oakley
. Both played their part in a pulsating performance, especially in the first half.
Grimes wasted no time in getting involved in the action with a teasing cross after just 15 seconds, which flashed across the face of the goal. This was indicative of the start the Grecians made and after 5 minutes John O’Flynn
headed over in front of the Big Bank following a tempting David Wheeler cross.
However, it wasn’t long before the Irishman netted his first of the season after great link up play down the right between Oakley, Dawson and Sam Parkin, with the ball eventually falling to O’Flynn, who arrowed a shot across the keeper to give City a 10th minute lead.
O’Flynn had a chance in the 24th minute to double the lead after he pounced on a wayward back pass and rounded the keeper but his shot lacked conviction and the Dons cleared their lines.
City continued to dominate with good, flowing football and, in the 29th minute, soon-to-be dad, Pat Baldwin
, saw a screamer deflected just wide of the post when destined for the top corner.
Coles picked up a yellow card for a trip as Wimbledon broke dangerously and a couple of minutes later the Dons centre forward, Michael Smith, headed over following good work wide by George Porter.
But it was City who responded and scored the crucial second goal in the 35th minute. Artur Krysiak
instigated the move with a quick throw to David Wheeler, waiting wide in his own half. Wheeler showed evidence of the early promise he has shown, having the confidence and pace to race away from the left back, Callum Kennedy, driving on into the box and crossing for John O’Flynn
to show athleticism and steer the ball past Worner in the Dons’ goal.
With Oakley and Grimes particularly dictating the play, City continued to press and play neat and effective football for the rest of the half and the Dons would have been somewhat relieved when referee, Graham Horwood, blew the half time whistle.
HALF TIME: Exeter City 2 AFC Wimbledon 0
Having made their first substitution in the first half, Wimbledon replaced George Porter with George Francomb as they looked to find a way back into the game but it was the Grecians who continued to press and manufacture the best chances, typically in the 57th minute when good work from Woodman saw his cross headed low by Parkin to the keeper’s near post, but Worner made an excellent save to deny him.
City continued to press and, after a Davies shot was well saved, another excellent delivery by Woodman was headed on by Coles but Baldwin was unable to get anything on the ball to steer it in.
On the hour, marksman O’Flynn was replaced by Liam Sercombe
and he was soon in the action as his goal bound shot was deflected behind for another City corner. Soon after, Arron Davies
showed great pace to get himself into a 1 on 1 position with keeper Worner who responded with a great save as Davies got his shot away.
Wimbledon started to get back into game, and following a corner, Craig Woodman
rescued his team with a great header off the line on the far post as a looping header flew past Artur Krysiak
Worryingly, soon after, Sercombe had to be replaced by Tommy Doherty
and the Doc soon picked up a yellow following a tackle on Francomb. Then it was then Dons turn to find themselves in the referee’s bad books as Harry Pell and Luke Moore were booked in quick succession.
With 5 minutes to go, Paul Tisdale made his final change when Alan Gow
came on to replace man of the match, David Wheeler. Soon after, the Dons had arguably their best chance when Harry Pell blazed over the bar and continued their late pressure forcing Baldwin to head off the line and then, two minutes later, race back to hook the ball off the line, after Krysiak was beaten. Goal line technology was needed at SJP for this one as the Dons players claimed a goal!
It was still end to end as captain Coles was unable to connect cleanly from a corner with the goal gaping and from the resulting counter attack, Krysiak made his best save of the game, beating away a smart shot from Moore.
As the referee blew the final whistle, Grecians fans could head off to enjoy the rest of the weekend with City still unbeaten in the league and in the knowledge that the football on show so far this season has been of the highest quality and all the more enjoyable because of this. The blend of youth and experience is working at present and bodes well for the rest of the season. Dawson, Grimes and Wheeler all showed their worth to the team and Matt Grimes deserves special mention for an excellent debut, probably only just pipped to the man of the match award by the energetic and increasingly effective Wheeler.
On Brazil day, it’s worth noting that City are unbeaten in the yellow shirts. Tuto bon!
FULL TIME: Exeter City 2 AFC Wimbledon 0
Exeter City; Krysiak, Dawson, Baldwin, Coles, Woodman, Wheeler (Gow 85), Oakley, Grimes, Davies, Parkin, O’Flynn (Sercombe 59, Doherty 67)
Subs (unused): Pym, Reid, Gosling, Keohane
AFC Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Kennedy, Sweeney, Frampton, Bennett (Weston 38), Smith, Midson (Sheringham 60), Luke Moore, Pell, Porter (Francomb 45)
Subs (unused): Brown, Sammy Moore, Fenlon, Arthur
Attendance: 3881 (488 away)
Referee: Graham Horwood