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By Adam Harwood, at the Cherry Red Records Stadium
Saturday, August 18, 2012
npower League Two: AFC Wimbledon 1 Chesterfield 0
AFC Wimbledon got their npower League Two season off to the perfect start with a win – and a clean sheet – against division new boys Chesterfield.
In a sun-baked Cherry Red Records Stadium, the Dons delievered an exemplary second half performance to stifle the Spirites’ attack, while being unlucky not to add to their half time lead given to them by last season’s top scorer Jack Midson.
Yet Dons manager Terry Brown may well be more pleased with the blanks fired at the other end of the pitch. Last season it took until March for Wimbledon to keep a clean sheet - in the 2012-13 season they have managed it at the first attempt.
Not that Seb Brown’s home goal wasn’t put under threat. In spells in the first half, Chesterfield – impressively led by midfielder Jordan Bowery – peppered the Wimbledon goal with shots, Drew Talbot on another day could have had a hat-trick if not for some poor finishing and one excellent flying save by Brown.
Yet out of nothing, in the 35th minute, the Dons took the lead. Angus Macdonald, being pressurised in the right back position, produced a superb long ball forward which Midson, springing the offside trap, latched on to, taking the advantage of time and space to finish left footed into the bottom corner of Tommy Lee’s goal.
Despite not adding to their lead, it was certainly AFC Wimbedon’s second half display that caught the eye. The Dons produced a superb concoction of defensive competence and attacking flair to defy their pre-season billing as strugglers. Midson worked extremely efficiently to produce chances for Luke Moore, whose finishing was slightly awry; while Dons subs Rashid Yusseff and Christian Jolley tried to kill the game and score from a tight angle when a pass would have surely led to the killer second.
Yet despite the slim margin of victory, for a long while it was felt like this game was won. It took a Chesterfield centre back, captain Sam Hird, to have their only truly meaningful second half chance, a powerful drive that Brown did well to tip wide of the far post.
Wimbledon thoroughly deserved this victory, and will cause many a team problems in the league this season if they can maintain the quality of their second half performance in particular.
AFC Wimbledon: Brown, Cummings, Balkestein, Mitchell-King, Harris, Midson, L Moore, S Moore, Macdonald, Long (Yusseff), Kiernan (Jolley)
Attendance: 3,780 (606 from Chesterfield)