No ‘long ball’ for Dons to down U’s
NEAL ARDLEY defended his side against accusations that they are ‘long-ball Wimbledon’ in the wake of their dominant win over Oxford.
Sean Kelly scored a rare goal as AFC Wimbledon put their disappointing festive period behind them with a deserved victory.
Robbie Hall had opened the scoring for Oxford before a first-half own goal from Yellows keeper Simon Eastwood and a Kelly header delivered the three points for Wimbledon.
Ardley said: “I think we thoroughly deserved to win. Their goalkeeper’s made two or three one-onone saves, we’ve had Whelps (Chris Whelpdale) try and head a ball from a yard off the floor that he could have tapped in. We should have won by three or four.
“We tried to mix our game up. People always make comments in the press about ‘long ball Wimbledon’, but look at the stats.
“We’ve had all the chances; the possession stats are even – their goalkeeper’s stopped them getting a battering.”
Oxford boss Michael Appleton disagreed with his opposite number’s assessment, though he did admit his team fell a bit short.
“We did OK,” he said. “I thought Hall was the real big positive in the game for us – not just for his goal, he was dangerous and his general play was very good. We didn’t get the ball to him enough.
“We were in decent control until they got the equaliser. Even once the game settled down at 2-1 I still felt pretty confident.
“I’ve got to give the players credit; it’s been a long time since we felt as disappointed as we do here.”
Oxford did start the brighter, with Hall opening the scoring after seven minutes with a powerful dipping strike from 25 yards into the bottom corner.
After that, there only looked likely to be one winner. Dean Parrett’s crashing long-range drive produced the equaliser, careering back onto Eastwood’s back an in. That was the catalyst for an all-out assault on the visitors’ goal from the Dons, and they should have won far more comfortably, with Lyle Taylor and Dom Poleon guilty of spurning multiple clearcut opportunities.
Ardley remained realistic at his team’s prospects for the remainder of the season ahead of Tuesday’s crucial FA Cup replay with Sutton United. He added: “A nice FA Cup run and safety in League One, that’s our aim.”
STAR MAN DEAN PARRETT AFC Wimbledon