BY GEORGE, THAT’S OUR BEST WIN YET!
IT WASN’T pretty, but Michael AppIeton labelled promotionchasing Oxford’s win over Wimbledon as their best of the season so far as George Baldock struck late.
With five victories under their belt from the opening 11 games, defender Baldock broke the deadlock and secured victory ten minutes from time.
The three points moved the U’s up to third, level on points with Portsmouth and Plymouth at the top of League Two.
“Some of the fans will disagree with me, but I think that’s our biggest win so far this season, without a shadow of a doubt,” said Appleton.
“It was always going to be difficult, particularly against a team who are really awkward to play against.
“We’re all absolutely delighted with the three points. The players are going to get a well-earned couple of days’ rest.”
Before the match, a minute’s silence was held in memory of 16year-old Ben Roberts, the brother of Oxford striker James Roberts, who died in a car accident the previous weekend.
And Appleton added: “He knows that we’re here for him. I had a chat with him on Thursday.
“We spoke about when he might come back and we’ll soon see when that happens.
“When things like that happen, the players really get behind each other. Everyone at the club has been really respectful and I think James and his family appreciate that.”
The visitors had never beaten Oxford, losing six of their eight meetings, but they started the strongest, with Adebayo Azeez forcing Sam Slocombe into a great one-handed save after seven minutes.
Wimbledon were then dealt a blow as centre-back Semi Ajayi, on loan from Cardiff, was forced off with a head injury.
Oxford’s first real chance of the match came after half an hour through Danny Hylton, whose closerange header was tipped over by James Shea.
The home side also felt they should have had a penalty five minutes before half-time when Hylton appeared to be bundled over by substitute Karleigh Osborne.
Oxford came within a whisker of going in front on 52 minutes as Liam Sercombe’s ferocious strike came back off the crossbar.
The lively Jordan Graham then produced a great cross which was just scrambled away by Osborne.
At the other end, Lyle Taylor’s flick-on fell to substitute Adebayo Akinfenwa, who lobbed the ball over from six yards out.
Former U’s midfielder Dannie Bulman then saw his 20-yard strike fizz just over the bar.
As with the previous two meetings between these sides, this game seemed destined for a goalless draw.
But, with ten minutes remaining, Oxford made the breakthrough as right-back Baldock surged forwards and unleashed a brilliant 25-yard strike which went in off Shea’s right-hand post.
Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley said: “I didn’t think we were great. I didn’t think we had enough belief in our play.We didn’t really open them up enough and create enough.
“The goal was a nothing goal. Fair play to him for the strike, but I would expect James Shea to save that. It’s a disappointing way to lose the game, but I didn’t think we did enough to win.
“If we’d have come away with a point, I would have said that was a good point, but instead we’ve lost a scrappy game 1-0. The initial thought on Semi was that he had broken his nose. Blood kept pouring out and he was a little bit dazed.”
NO WAY PAST: Oxford’s Jake Wright and AFC Wimbledon’s Tom Elliott in action