Report: AFC Wimbledon 2 Exeter City 1
Exeter City were defeated 2-1 at the hands of AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow in an entertaining but ultimately disappointing fixture.
The frustration was compounded because City had taken an early lead through a Jack Midson own-goal, heading Matt Grimes’ corner into his own net.
But Luke Moore levelled the game before the interval from close range, before Dons striker Midson earned his redemption by turning in a low cross 15 minutes from time as the turnaround was completed.
Added to the result, the sight of Grimes having to be withdraw at the interval after suffering a really poor tackle by Sammy Moore was equally unedifying.
Liam Sercombe was a late casualty for the game after picking up a knock in training during the week, while Alan Gow and Pat Baldwin both took seats on the bench to begin.
A young-look squad also featured Jimmy Keohane in midfield, with Tom Nichols once again retaining his place leading the line.
And when the opening goal came in the third minute, it already felt like it had been coming. The Grecians had been spritely since kick-off and Grimes and Matt Gill linked up nicely before the former drew a save from Ross Worner with a powerful shot.
Grimes forced Worner into action again from the resultant corner as he palmed around his near post, but he was powerless to do anything from the next flag-kick as Midson inadvertently nodded past his own teammate for a City lead.
It almost got even better for the Grecians when Jordan Moore-Taylor, who had retained his left-back berth, swung in a beautiful cross for Keohane, but the midfielder’s acrobatic volley fizzed just over the crossbar.
The Wombles had been struggling to score on their own patch before the Grecians rolled into town – and Artur Krysiak was doing his utmost to continue that misery. Alan Bennett rose well at the far post to a cross from deep on the right, and his fingertips were called into action.
The play ebbed and flowed with both sides taking turn to make inroads into each other’s half. Exeter could have doubled the advantage but David Wheeler and Davies both had efforts blocked out.
Another chance went begging as a cool Grimes pass sent Keohane away, and the Irishman found his midfield teammate Davies, but the Welshman curled his effort straight into the hands of the goalkeeper. And debutant Darren Jones appeared to haul Nichols to goal in the area but the referee wasn’t interested.
The Wombles left Exeter ruing missed chances when they found and equalising goal before the interval. Charlie Wyke somehow came away with the ball near the left-hand corner-flag and made a beeline for the penalty area, and a ball slipped across the face of goal allowed Luke Moore to slot in from under the bar.
The goalscorer’s namesake Sammy Moore was lucky to be remain on the pitch after a poorly-timed lunging tackle just before the interval, which called physio Andy Proctor into action. Teenager Grimes was the victim, and wasn’t so fortunate as to be able to emerge after the interval.
Half-time: AFC Wimbledon 1 Exeter City 1
Indeed it was John O’Flynn, who scored twice in the victory over the Dons at St James Park, who replaced Grimes for the second period. It also called for a change of shape to the Grecians and a more orthodox 4-4-2.
And the striker – as well as the travelling contingent – could scarcely believe that he didn’t add his name to the scoresheet within minutes of the restart.
It was a direct ball upfield by Krysiak which was allowed to bounce – Wheeler headed the ball into the box for Nichols, and the forward backheeled for his strike-partner, but O’Flynn hammered over the bar.
When City did get the ball in the net, they were denied cause to celebrate when the assistant raised his flag for an offside. It was Keohane, receiving from Wheeler, unleashed a thunderous left-footed effort which Worner couldn’t hold onto, and the whistle was blown against Davies just as Nichols was slotting a loose ball into the empty net.
The conditions became dramatically windy and rainy midway through the second period, completely changing the complexion of the two teams’ approach to the game.
But right on cue, the score turned with the weather as the Wombles completed their turnaround. Kevin Sainte-Luce, freshly on from the bench, created space for himself on the right flank to deliver a low left-footed centre. The ball squirmed through to the grateful Midson who diverted the ball into the net.
Manager Paul Tisdale introduced Alan Gow and Sam Parkin in place of Wheeler and Davies in an attacking roll of the dice, giving City four strikers for the final quarter of an hour.
City piled forward and had the Dons under the cosh for the closing stages – it was full-back Butterfield that drew the best save from Worner as he drilled a shot from deep which the stopper adjusted well to save.
The Dons didn’t muster any attacks in the closing stages, and instead defended rigidly to see out the win.
Full-time: AFC Wimbledon 2 Exeter City 1
AFC Wimbledon: Worner; Bennett, Jones, Antwi; Fuller, S.Moore, Pell, L.Moore (Saint-Luce 68), Kennedy (Arthur 28); Midson (Francomb 84), Wyke.
Subs: Brown, Morris, Sheringham.
Goal: L.Moore (38), Midson (74).
Exeter City: Krysiak; Butterfield, Bennett, Coles, Moore-Taylor; Gill, Grimes (O’Flynn 46); Keohane, Davies (Gow 78), Wheeler (Parkin 78); Nichols.
Subs: Pym, Woodman, Baldwin, Gosling.
Goal: Midson o.g. (3).
Attendance: 4,410 (622 away)
Referee: S. Rushton