A bundled home effort from Jack Rudoni and a brace from Ollie Palmer gave AFC Wimbledon their first home win in League One since the 3-1 victory over Oxford United in early September.
Head coach Mark Robinson named an unchanged side from Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Portsmouth, but Chelsea loanee Henry Lawrence was able to be named as a sub after recovering from tonsillitis. Watford loanee Dapo Mebude was not selected for the squad.
Here are Edmund Brack’s four takeaways from Plough Lane:
DONS TURN EARLY GOAL INTO FIRST HALF DOMINATION
After conceding the early goal very much against the run of play, the South Londoners were able to remain calm under pressure and stick to their game plan as they turned a clumsy start into their most dominant first-half performance of the season.
During their rampant 35 minutes after going a goal down, the Dons rediscovered their attacking swagger and clinical conviction to breeze past a buoyant Crewe side that saw off league rivals Gillingham on Saturday.
Ollie Palmer, who was central to everything, pulled the Crewe backline of Terell Thomas and Zac Williams towards him and opened the space for Luke McCormick, Ayoub Assal and Jack Rudoni to exploit.
Once the Dons got their first through the persistent Rudoni, who smashed home his fifth goal of the season, Robinson’s side played with an assertive attitude that controlled the game.
Having 15 shots compared to Crewe’s two, the majority of possession and controlling the midfield battle – largely down to Anthony Hartigan’s ability to set the tempo – Robinson’s side went in at half time overflowing with confidence.
THEY DID IT THE HARD WAY
Beginning the second 45 minutes in the same swashbuckling fashion that they ended the first, the trio of Palmer, Rudoni and McCormick all went close as they searched to kill the game off.
But as the clock ticked down, Wimbledon players began to cut frustrated figures, with the stubbornness of Dave Richards and a sea of Crewe shirts thwarting one of the 28 shots towards goal, as chance after chance went begging for the hosts.
While the Dons had been in total control of the second half, the final seven minutes created a tense atmosphere around Plough Lane.
Chris Porter pulled one back for the visitors in the 89th minute, and with six minutes of additional time, the game’s momentum swung swiftly in favour of Crewe.
Wimbledon’s final few minutes became an even more arduous effort when Ayoub Assal was issued a straight red after an incident with Zac Williams. Despite the Crewe centre-back headbutting the 19-year-old winger in the altercation, referee Craig Hicks sent Assal off and gave Williams a yellow card.
Although Crewe launched crosses towards Ben Heneghan and Dan Csoka for the final five minutes, the 10-man Dons fended off the aerial threat and held out to secure their first win in their last three league games.
RUDONI RADIATES UNDER THE PLOUGH LANE LIGHTS
Scoring the first to ignite the fightback, having the determination to hunt down the loose ball and set up Palmer for the second, and making the most tackles of any AFC Wimbledon player, Jack Rudoni produced one of his best performances of the season on Tuesday night.
The 20-year-old is maturing into one of the team’s leaders and will only get better as he gains more experience.
With opposition defenders occupied on one of McCormick, Palmer or Assal, Rudoni is learning to become one of the consistent and reliable outlets for the Dons.
During his 90 minutes, Rudoni had a pass accuracy of 88.1 per cent, made 42 passes, had 64 touches and made four key passes.
PAUL OSEW IMPRESSES AT RIGHT-BACK
Filling in once again in the absence of a natural right-back due to Cheye Alexander’s injury and Lawrence only just recovering from tonsillitis, Paul Osew carried over his excellent performance against Portsmouth to Tuesday night’s clash against Crewe.
A threat going forward and a natural ability to defend, Osew used his ability to glide past the opposition, join the counter-attack, and strength of crossing with either foot to bamboozle the Crewe defence.
Completing five crosses into the box, two key passes and posing a threat from distance, the 20-year-old showed he is more than capable of stepping into the side at either full-back role and putting in an assured performance.
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