Match Report: County 1-0 AFC Wimbledon

Substitute Odin Bailey was the Easter Monday hero, as his sublime late strike secured a single-goal triumph for County at Edgeley Park over Wimbledon – who had earlier missed a first-half penalty.

The win sent the table-topping Hatters four points clear of closest challengers Mansfield and Wrexham – as well as registering their fifth ‘double’ of the season, a third consecutive victory without conceding, and an eighth game in a row unbeaten.

County took to the field in the bank holiday afternoon rain, and with an unaltered starting line-up from that on Good Friday at Forest Green – which included Connor Lemonheigh Evans, who had spent four months on loan to Wimbledon earlier in the campaign. The Hatters’ bench, meanwhile, featured one change – with Myles Hippolyte replacing Todd Kane.

The visitors, starting the game one place and one point outside the play-off positions, included a trio of ex-Hatters – namely, James Ball, captain Ryan Johnson and Joe Lewis, the latter of whom, before signing permanently at Plough Lane three months previously, had, like fellow Welshman Lemonheigh Evans, played for the ‘Dons’ as a loanee.

Eleven minutes were on the clock before the first incident of note in either final third was registered – although, on this occasion, following James Tilley’s free-kick from the left into the Hatters’ area, it took the form of a high boot by Lewis on Nick Powell, for which the former County player was shown a yellow card.

Ten minutes later, Kyle Knoyle’s free-kick on the right found Fraser Horsfall, who nodded across from the far side to Paddy Madden – but the County skipper fired his first-time shot over the Railway End goal and against the screen of the scoreboard behind.

Madden unleashed a further attempt shortly afterwards by latching on to Ibby Touray’s corner from the left, and drilling straight at visiting goalkeeper Alex Bass – who was tied with County Number One Ben Hinchliffe for the most League Two clean sheets (15) at the start of play.

A couple of minutes after the half-hour, the visitors were awarded their penalty when, following a trademark long throw from the right by Kofi Balmer, Omar Bugiel went to ground under a Horsfall challenge in the County box – only for Tilley’s spot-kick, despite sending Hinchliffe the wrong way, to clip the outside of the right post and go wide. 

HALF-TIME: County 0, Wimbledon 0.

Weather conditions were drier upon the resumption, as the Hatters began the new half by introducing Antoni Sarcevic in place of Rico Richards. And they fashioned the first opportunity of it, too, as Callum Camps – who had opened the scoring in County’s previous two matches – fired over at the Cheadle End from 30 yards out.

Two more County substitutes – in Bailey and Tanto Olaofe – were brought on just ahead of the hour, although the next player to go close was visiting winger Josh Neufville, who, following a mazy run on the left, drilled narrowly shy of the Hatters’ near upright.

With just over a quarter of an hour remaining, a Touray delivery from the left was met by Olaofe – who headed over. And when Touray crossed from the opposite flank a few minutes later, Bass needed to be on hand to catch a deflection off the head of Lewis.

Newly-arrived substitute Ryan Croasdale fired high and wide, as the Hatters strove to break the deadlock – and, with half a dozen minutes left, as well as to considerable euphoria and relief in equal measure, their efforts were met with success. Touray, on the right, teed up Bailey, who advanced across to the edge of the box before curling a shot into the top-left corner for his third County goal in all competitions.

Six minutes were added on, during which the Hatters found themselves having to deal with more of Balmer’s throw-in exocets – but they stood firm to create a little more clear blue water between them and the chasing pack at the top, with six games left to play.

FULL-TIME: County 1 (Bailey, 84), Wimbledon 0.

Team (4-3-3): Hinchliffe; Knoyle (Hippolyte, 74), Horsfall, Pye, Touray; Lemonheigh Evans, Powell (Bailey, 58), Camps (Croasdale, 74); Richards (Sarcevic, 46), Wootton (Olaofe, 58), Madden (Capt.).

Unused Subs: Smith, Byrne.

Man of the Match: Touray.

Attendance: 9,550 (390 away).

Reporter: Gareth Evans.

Photographer: Mike Petch.


Keep Up To Date With All The Latest News And Special Offers...

Your email address will not be shared with any 3rd parties

    Opening Times Newsletter Signup