A stunning result
Looking at all our remaining fixtures other than Northampton this was the fixture I felt would give us our biggest test and in all honesty before the game I would have settled for a point provided we beat Mansfield Saturday. Having looked at some of the clips of their last few matches they looked a very pacey side with a very long good away record,the last away defeat stretching back to 10th October when they lost 1-0 at Oxford. Their last 10 away games since that day has seen them record 6 victories and 4 draws and when you see three of their draws were against Portsmouth,Northampton and Leyton Orient and they also won at Accrington so this was a team that needed to be respected.
I felt the team selected last night respected the opponents more than one set up to attack the opposition and let them try to stop us. I was very disappointed to see the return to wingbacks and felt particularly sorry for Montano.It sums up his season really where he has not had a run of games to show what he can do and many supporters have labelled him as awful when Saturdays performance showed he is far from awful and possesses the ability to beat players,retain possession of the ball and put good crosses in. I have to admit to being disgusted with changes to a team that put in such a good performance on Saturday. I do feel DC tinkers too much with his teams but to be fair most of his selections have worked and I was to be proved wrong again last night. Well done Darrell Clarke.
Some outstanding saves when the score was 2-1 including an exceptional save with his feet. Some criticise him for not coming for crosses but personally I would rather have a keeper who you know isn’t going to come rather than one who is inconsistent. Definitely gave a match winning performance and his kicking was pretty good too. Had no chance with the goal which was entirely down to ridiculous setting up where we had a corner and we left their striker 1 against 1 when the corner was cleared and we ended up conceding a corner from which they scored with a thumping header.
Clarke J.7 Gave his usual consistent performance with a solid defensive display. For me he lacks any real pace and gives his opponents too much room but to be fair to him he rarely actually gets beat when he does challenge an opponent and gets in useful challenges and excels in a back three. Again I was worried that with the pace Wimbledon had down the sides that we would get caught out without a definite full back but as on many occasions DC got it dead right and the effort and commitment put in by James Clarke proved what a solid player he is and has a far better first touch than Leadbitter.
Played very well again against a very powerful and quick opponent. Won more than his fair share of headers and really came out on top of his personal battle which was one where he had to show great concentration. His positioning is excellent as is his reading of the game and in truth you can see in every performance just how much he enjoys the game of football and the challenges he faces.
Parkes 7 Another selection that surprised me ,although I should not have been any more surprised than the decision to drop him and bring McCrystal back a couple of games ago. Again DC got it spot on as Parksey produced a very solid performance with some great tackling and blocks and an air of authority when he had the ball at his feet. Still can lose his player at times but overall a very steady and strong defensive
display. It will be interesting to see if this was a one off selection to combat Wimbledon’s style or whether he will win out over McCrystal again.Perhaps DC is trying to keep both players on their toes.
Leadbitter 5.5 For me he spends the majority of time lost in the wingback position rarely getting past his opponent and also rarely getting a cross past the first man. I can understand why he was played as he provides fast cover for James Clarke but IMO the inclusion of both Mansell and Ollie Clarke and two wingbacks make us a very defensive side. For the plus side Danny did work very hard and had a better second half than first half and got in some useful challenges.
Yet another assist with a fantastic cross for Easter’s goal but this was another fine defensive performance from Lee.
Mansell 8 Ran himself into the ground again as he moved from player to player getting in vital challenges and touches and gave Ollie Clarke and Lines the opportunities to attack more. He seemed to be disappointed when he was substituted but that really sums up the Manse.His experience shines through his performanses as does his first class attitude.He is very much a player who sets standards for others by the way he performs and for some he may well have been Man of the Match but for me this was a game where the Man of the Match could have been any of six players.
Clarke O. 8
Came in and did a good job with a solid game in the middle. Scored a good goal and seemed to take confidence from this. Won some good tackles and kept us moving forward. If only Ollie could set this down as a marker and bring some consistency to his game then we would have a good squad player on our hands.
MOM Great all round midfield display. At last Chris is performing like the player he should be. His running with the ball at opponents is second to none in this division and it was good to see a number of these marauding runs last night as well as a consistency to his general play and working for the team. Fantastic pass that gave Taylor his goal and effectively killed the game off. For me that has now guaranteed him a place in the team for the upcoming matches as he has the ability to put his foot on the ball and maintain possession.
Easter 7 Some people just do not seem to see the great footballer he is and the way he holds off opponents and brings others in to the game. The fact he missed two good chances similarly to Saturday for me shows how he has the knack of getting into good goalscoring positions and how when he was a yard quicker he was a good goalscorer. The goal he did score was a brilliantly executed header just inside the post and overall I felt he led the line very well.
Clever footballer who provides far more than just goals to this team with his telling runs and twists and turns. I wasn’t sure about this Taylor/Easter partnership but in the last two games we have created a number of opportunities and both players general play has been very good. Matty took his goal very well indeed to put the game beyond Wimbledon and it will be interesting to see if this is the partnership that starts Saturday or whether Easter will make way for McBurnie.
McBurnie 7 Looks to be a real handful both in the air and on the ground. I look forward to seeing more of him as he certainly gives more aerial power than any other player has displayed this season. I can see him being very useful at times and we might actually see an improvement in our goals from corners.
Mc Crystal Not long enough to mark. Brought on to shore up the defence but not sure if he did that but we didn’t concede so it was a successful substitution.
Montano Only had four minutes so really nothing to mark on.
Ref 6 Strange one this one because although he allowed Wimbledon to get away with a lot of unfair challenges I felt he was consistent with his decisions and dealt with the petulant Akinfenwa superbly and he did try and succeed in keeping the game flowing rather than what could have been a continual whistle blowing event.
Another good turnout by gasheads who were rewarded with what was an excellent game of football between two good sides who both tried to attack each other at every opportunity.
AFC Wimbledon 8
Definitely one of the best teams we have played at the Mem this season. Always willing to push the extra player forward and until they brought Akinfenwa on one of the quickest teams I have seen this season. Add to this a general physicality to their play which was helped by a mainly lenient referee and it was easy to see why they have had such a successful away record. The fact we won the game shows just how well we played as we could have been out of sight at half time had we taken some great chances. Despite them having a lot of good possession we managed to look dangerous whenever we came forward and create by far the better of the good chances.
DC I can’t praise enough the way DC goes about his job and looks at every match as a project and selects his team likewise. The fact we had 5 players missing in Gaffney, Sinclair, Lawrence,Bodin and Ellis not 100% and yet still can put out a squad capable of competing and winning against good opponents really shows the giant strides made this season.
Though I personally may not agree with a lot of his selections and being a prophet of keeping a winning team it is impossible to not admire the way he manages the team and he is rarely out Managed by opponents and he also manages to get people who do not appear to be getting that fair deal to come in and produce stirring performances. I still feel now that Montano must feel very down after his performance at the weekend was rewarded with a four minute appearance . I do wonder whether it was the absence of Bodin that made DC make the decision he made or whether he would have selected that team anyway. We will never know but all we can do is look back at a great performance where all players played their part.
So with 9 points from our last three games we are back in with a chance of a Play Off place at minimum and the next game at Home will bring our fixtures up to the same number Home and Away played which is the best point to take a look at how we are doing. Three points are very possible Saturday and if we get them then the table will make interesting reading with still 30 points to play for!! Every position bar Champions is there to play for but the secret is to take each game as it comes which is something our Manager does excellently. The most important thing is to keep our feet on the ground and by that I mean everybody. UTG