I’m not taking anything for granted about today’s result as when we played them down there Wimbledon were a very big physical side and it took us a while to match them. After their morale-boosting win in the cup last Saturday they’ll have their tails up too. I don’t know which of our new signings will be in the squad but presumably Grigg arrived too late. I’ll be at the game and just hope there’s no last minute postponement due to approach roads being snowed under. With all the games we have in hand on our rivals we’ve got to start getting a few wins so we can catch up and I think we’ll get one today. Match prediction: 2-1 to us.
I’d had a busy morning and had to forego the pre-match visit to Fitzie’s but I was in my seat in the centre of the East Stand ten minutes before kick-off. The sun was dazzling and the mood good at that stage. Leadbitter and Morgan were both starting and Sterling was on the bench. The bench was looking pretty healthy as a result of the transfer-window dealings.
The first-half was largely forgettable and our overall performance was well under par. We looked shaky and at times took an eternity to move the ball forwards from our penalty area. A lot of our passing was poor as well. We did have a couple of efforts on goal with a nice dribble and shot from Honeyman early on and a similar effort from Morgan but we never really looked like scoring. Wimbledon were coping easily enough with whatever we cam up with and more worryingly still, they looked they they might nick a goal themselves. Wyke held up a ball here and there and also won a few headers but as a potential regular goalscorer he looked decidedly inadequate. He looks too slow and doesn’t get himself into good scoring positions. The atmosphere inside the stadium soon became quiet and on the tense side with most of the chanting coming from the three hundred or so Wimbledon fans. I was looking forward to the break when Ross would surely shake things up.
It was good to see Seventies favourite Kevin Arnott doing the half-time draw but as for the Half-Time Challenge, which involved two young lads running around the perimeter of the pitch and then challenging each other to stick the ball into the net, it was a damp squib. They both looked knackered by the time the ball was released and then seemed to run out of enthusiasm as well before mercifully one of them put it away.
We started off a lot better in the second-half but that shakiness was still in evidence at times and I had the horrible feeling Wimbledon might take the lead. We’d won five more corners by the fifty-eighth minute but managed to make none of them count. This has been a problem for too long a time. Just before the hour-mark most people around me were pleased to see Wyke replaced by Sterling and from what I saw of the latter afterwards he likes to get stuck in and made us look more of a threat. A few minutes after that first switch we replaced Honeyman with O’Nien. It’d been good to see George back on again and we’ve missed him. O’Nien always gives it 110% and proceeded to do so – he’s also not afraid to get his head low and nod the ball around. Not long afterwards we finally made the breakthrough and it was worth waiting for as McGeady trapped a long ball and promptly lashed a great shot from the left side of their box into the right of their net. There was still a quarter of the match remaining and like everyone else no doubt I was wondering if we could hang on to the lead or even build on it. Referee Ben Toner didn’t win any friends among us home fans with a series of perplexing decisions but enough said about him. It wasn’t a comfortable final quarter and we didn’t really look like putting the game to bed. Local palpitations weren’t exactly soothed by the announcement of six minutes of stoppage-time but we managed to keep a clean sheet and it ended 1-0 to joyous relief all round.
Portsmouth only drew at home while Charlton lost so it’s been a very good afternoon for us despite the far from convincing performance. Of the new arrivals I was particularly impressed by Leadbitter who was yellow-carded, for quite a nifty foul I have to say, but looked relaxed and creative in the centre of midfield. I know many people baulked at the thought of him coming back but it looks like a good move to me. Sterling also looked like he’ll be an asset while Morgan, after a wobbly start, showed that he can produce a mazy run or two. See you at Oxford.