BY SAM SMITH
A late Lee Cattermole goal stunned AFC Wimbledon as Sunderland earned a 2-1 win at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
A fantastic strike from Joe Pigott gave the Dons an early lead and it seemed they might go on to win the game, missing a host of excellent chances in the process.
But the long-serving Black Cats midfielder equalised midway through the second half for the Wearsiders – who were the inferior side throughout – and then struck home a volley with five minutes remaining.
The visitors had the first few chances, Josh Maja’s looping cross almost inadvertently found the corner of Tom King’s net before Max Power struck an effort just wide.
But it was the hosts who led on nine minutes through a stunning volley from Pigott. Andy Barcham did excellently to beat Donald Love down the left-hand side, before firing the ball across for the former Charlton Athletic forward to convert with a powerful kung-fu style effort.
Pigott could have added a second soon after but scuffed his effort when the ball dropped his way from a Mitch Pinnock corner. Maja then almost equalised when he outjumped King but could only head onto the roof of the net.
Neal Ardley’s side were excellent in the first half and continued to threaten after taking the lead. James Hanson’s physical presence caused a threat from several set-pieces and Anthony Wordsworth was the beneficiary of the former Bradford man’s knock-down on 25 minutes but failed to create enough room to produce a shot.
Black Cats youngster Maja was isolated in the first half, much to the excellent work of Will Nightingale and Deji Oshilaja. However, the visitors’ top-scorer was allowed free at a free-kick inside the first minute of the second period but could only head straight at King.
Wordsworth then had a similar opportunity for the Dons soon after, climbing highest to knock a Pinnock free-kick goalwards, and the ball appeared destined for the corner of the net but Jon McLaughlin did excellently to prevent a second Wimbledon goal.
McLaughlin had to be bailed out by his defenders soon after when his poor punched clearance was looped back towards goal by Barcham, who saw his effort cleared from under the crossbar.
Sunderland were much improved in the second half and began to put the hosts under further pressure. Young full-back Toby Sibbick did excellently to deny Lynden Gooch a certain goal with a last-ditched challenge when the American appeared to be through on King’s goal.
And the Black Cats controversially equalised midway through the second period. Wimbledon failed to clear a corner and Lee Cattermole – who appeared offside – tapped home from close range. The players had returned to the halfway line and Wimbledon were set to re-start the game when the assistant referee raised his flag, but after a lengthy discussion the referee awarded the goal.
Wimbledon rode a spell of pressure before they had two chances in quick succession to re-establish their lead. Pigott somehow struck the post from close-range after Nightingale’s flick-on, before Oshilaja waywardly fired over from the next corner when it seemed he should have at least hit the target.
It appeared the hosts might regret the succession of chances, Liam Trotter was next to waste an excellent opportunity, firing over when the ball had favourable ricocheted his way 18 yards from goal.
Ardley’s side would indeed go on to rue those errors in front of goal as Cattermole popped up with his second goal late on, striking a volley across King and into the bottom corner.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.