Forss 56 Reilly 70
BY LAURENCE LOWNE AT THE CHERRY RED RECORDS STADIUM
With a growing list of injured players, AFC Wimbledon manager Glyn Hodges could have trotted out the bare bones excuse long before a ball was kicked – but instead he juggled his fit players and put out a side to frustrate and nick a goal or two on the break.
The first half failed to go to plan and Doncaster took the lead from a corner, when keeper Nathan Trott got trapped and outmuscled by attackers and his back post was left unguarded – Kwame Thomas had the simple task of nodding home from two yards out after 12 minutes.
Doncaster had four more gilt-edged chances and a 3-0 half-time lead would not have been unfair. But football is never about being fair.
Wimbledon continued to frustrate them in the second half but also carved out chances of their own as captain Joe Pigott led the line with the flying Finn Marcus Forss beside him with plenty of pace to burn.
It was from one of the fast attacks that saw Forss upended in the penalty box by a careless challenge from defender Donvervon Daniels. The Brentford loanee dispatched the spot-kick to bring the scores level in the 56th minute. It was the striker’s 10th goal for the Dons.
Now it was the turn of the defence to hold firm, and they did so without resorting to unnecessary challenges, standing their ground, covering the angles, and making blocks when required.
It was from a Doncaster corner that the break for Wimbledon’s second goal came.
The corner was half cleared by Trott then helped on by a defender, who launched the ball forward and Forss found himself one on one with a Doncaster defender.
Forss won the ball and the supporting Callum Reilly smashed the ball home from the edge of the penalty box to make it 2-1 to Wimbledon on 70 minutes.
It was the 26-year-old’s first goal for the club.
There were a few nervy moments to follow, but the defence held firm and Jon Taylor, who had tormented Wimbledon in the FA Cup replay just a few weeks earlier, managed to miss when it seemed easier to score.
There were a couple of highlights for the scrap book.
Jack Rudoni, one of the up-and-coming youth players, made his debut for the first team. He came on as a 61st-minute sub for Mitch Pinnock, who found little joy alongside Max Sanders in midfield, as he struggled with the formation. The substitutes bench had five players who were under the age of 21.
AFC Wimbledon (3-5-2): Trott 6, O’Neill 6, McDonald 7, Thomas 7, Osew 6 (Guinness-Walker 61, 7), Pinnock 5 (Rudoni 61, 7), McLoughlin 7, Sanders 8, Reilly 7, Forss 8 (Hartigan 86), Pigott 7. Not used: McDonnell, Delaney, Robinson, Biler.
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