DONS PICK UP A RARE HOME WIN
AFC WIMBLEDON manager Neal Ardley was relieved after Adebayo Azeez’s late header gave the Dons victory over Exeter City and a first win at Kingsmeadow since March.
Wimbledon took the lead through George Francomb, who hooked the ball past Bobby Olejnik from Jon Meades’ throw-in.
Ryan Harley drew the visitors level five minutes later as he showed great composure to stroke home from 15 yards.
Ardley’s side dominated a turgid second period but had to wait until the 82nd minute for Lyle Taylor to cross for Azeez’s winner.
“I thought we started brightly but lost our way a bit and Exeter are the sort of team that can pick holes in you when you’re stretched,” said Ardley.
“They’re always tricky opponents and I don’t enjoy playing against them because they cause problems.
“We needed to up the tempo in the second-half and we didn’t. We couldn’t press high enough up the pitch, so we brought fresh pace and energy on and it made a difference.
“Despite playing average, we found a way to win the game. When people read the paper, they don’t see who played well and who didn’t – they see that Wimbledon won and that’s the most important thing.”
The best chances of the opening quarter fell to the hosts, with Andy Barcham and Adebayo Akinfenwa going close.
The Dons went in front when Exeter’s Matt Oakley inadvertently flicked Meades’ long throw into the path of Francomb, who adjusted his body sharply to score on the halfvolley.
But City soon restored parity as Harley collected Will Hoskins’ deft touch from Oakley’s right-wing cross, taking the ball under control before calmly sliding the ball left-footed beyond James Shea.
The visitors thought they had their second when Barry Fuller glanced another Oakley centre into his own net, only for the referee to penalise Troy Brown for a foul.
Wimbledon monopolised possession in the second period, but it wasn’t until Ardley introduced Azeez and Taylor that the home side began to threaten.
And it was the two substitutes that combined for the decisive goal, with Taylor outmuscling Jordan Tillson on the right before whipping in a vicious cross to the onrushing Azeez.
Exeter manager Paul Tisdale admitted that the Grecians’ midweek Capital One Cup defeat at Sunderland had drained his team, but was nonetheless left angered by their display and that of referee Darren England.
Tisdale said: “We’re giving two concessions today. One is that we had a long week and the opposition haven’t.
“I don’t think the referee helped us too much, but I thought we were way below par today and I’m clutching at straws with those excuses.
“That certainly wasn’t the performance we needed.”
KEY MOMENT: Adebayo Azeez dives in to head Wimbledon’s late winner against the Grecians
STARTER: George Francomb opens the scoring for Dons
STAR MAN LYLE TAYLOR AFC Wimbl