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02 October 2018 Venue The Cherry Red Records Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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Match Reports

THE BANTAMS BATTLE TO HARD-FOUGHT WIMBLEDON WIN

2 October 2018

David Hopkin's Bantams produced a superb defensive display to claim a morale-boosting victory at AFC Wimbledon.

First half substitute Jack Payne - brought on for the injured Jim O'Brien - scored the only goal of the game in first half injury time from the penalty spot after George Miller had been brought down in the box.

As Wimbledon pushed for a leveller after the break, City showed all of the battling qualities required to hang onto their clean sheet and win.

Their never-say-die attitude was typified by stand-in skipper Anthony O'Connor - wearing the armband with Eoin Doyle not risked through injury.

The rock-solid defender produced a brilliant goal-line clearance to keep out a Jake Jervis header in the second period.

The victory for Hopkin's men makes it four points and two clean sheets in the space of just four days.

With Doyle unavailable and Jordan Gibson moved down to the bench, Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Kai Bruenker were handed starting berths at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.

In truth, the beginning of the contest was fairly low-key as the two sides seemed to be feeling each other out.

Sean Scannell, who was yet again a willing runner down City's right flank, saw a cross-come-shot blocked by Rod McDonald.

Tom Soares then fired wide from outside the box at the other end with a low drive minutes later.

City sadly lost Jim O'Brien to injury at the half hour mark when the midfielder unfortunately was forced off with a hamstring problem.

The change meant a reshuffle for the Bantams, with O'Connor moving up into central midfield, Knight-Percival changing from left back to centre half and Connor Wood dropping further down the pitch from his left wing starting position.

In a crazy little period for City, the Bantams then looked set for more injury sorrow just a minute or so later.

Richard O'Donnell appeared to fall awkwardly as he went to claim a bouncing forward ball into his box.

With O'Donnell down on the floor, Dons striker Joe Pigott tried to convert but his close range effort from a tight angle hit the side-netting.

Sub goalkeeper George Sykes-Kenworthy was stripped and ready on the touch-line as O'Donnell received treatment on the pitch, but City's number one was eventually able to continue.

As City looked to adjust to their enforced changes in set-up due to Jim O'Brien's departure, Wimbledon aimed to get on top in the game.

Mitch Pinnock had two efforts for goal from outside the box, while O'Donnell was forced to push away a Soares header from a corner late on in the first period.

Wimbledon threatened again from the following corner but O'Donnell held onto Piggott's goal-bound header.

The game looked set to be heading to the interval goalless until smart play from Miller finally earned the Bantams a spot-kick.

After the frustrations of turned down appeals in recent matches against Doncaster Rovers and Bristol Rovers, City were awarded a penalty in first half injury time when Miller was fouled by Deja Oshilaja as he moved away from the Wimbledon skipper.

Payne, who was introduced into the action following Jim O'Brien's injury, took responsibility for the kick and he coolly sent Joe McDonnell the wrong way for his fourth goal of the season.

Aiming to get back into the contest, AFC Wimbledon threw everything they could at the Bantams after the break.

Soares curled an effort from just outside the box onto the roof of the net five minutes into the second period.

Arguably one of the most crucial moments in the match, however, came roughly seven minutes afterwards.

Jervis' goal-bound header from a Pinnock free-kick looked set to level things up for the hosts, but O'Connor showed tremendous anticipation to get back and hook clear off the line.

Wimbledon continued to push men forward - bringing on attacker Kwesi Appiah later in the half - but Jervis' chance would be the closest the home side would come to equalising.

City were standing strong under territorial pressure from the hosts; players in claret and amber always seemingly in position to head and kick clear under pressure.



Liam Trotter headed over from a Jervis cross before he and Pinnock were replaced by attacking midfield options Andy Barcham and Anthony Wordsworth as the Dons threw more caution to the wind.

Wordsworth was involved in one promising chance for Wimbledon nine minutes from the end but he volleyed over from Ben Purrington's cross into the box.

As the hosts pushed more men forward, though, they left spaces at the back.

After going close on two previous occasion earlier from similar counter-attacks, substitute David Ball could have sealed the victory for City in the final stages when he won possession deep inside Wimbledon's half.

Ball, who replaced Bruenker twenty minutes from the end, had an unmarked Miller supporting him in the middle but the striker elected to shoot himself and his low effort was held by McDonnell.

City could have been left to rue that near miss in injury time when Wimbledon won a free-kick just outside the box by the byline.

Wordsworth's ball into the box from the resulting free-kick found an unmarked Appiah but the sub headed over.

Breathing a sigh of relief after that close shave, City expertly saw out the remaining minutes of injury time - winning a series of throw-ins deep inside Wimbledon's half.

The full whistle brought joyous scenes from City's staff, players and 224-strong away support.

Three league and cup games unbeaten - now onto the mouth-watering prospect of Sunderland at the Northern Commercials Stadium this Saturday.

 

Match line ups, match stats and match action from the AFC Wimbledon fixture can be found via the Match Centre - HERE.

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