Wimbledon overcame their late season nerves to gain a surprisingly comfortable 1-0 victory against a resolute Basingstoke team. Although the margin was narrow, the tension in the game was more in the minds of the watching fans and management than on the pitch, where Basingstoke threatened only in the first few minutes.
Terry Brown left out Jake Leberl, presumably to save him for the forthcoming game at Bromley, with Alan Inns coming in. Danny Kedwell was on the bench as the manager looked to make best use of Kezie Ibe before his imminent return to Ebbsfleet. With Dwane Lee also rested, the team looked quite different from the one that had beaten Team Bath.
Basingstoke started brightly and the first shot of the game came from them, with James Pullen parrying Matt Warner’s effort. At the other end, Jon Main was pulled up for fouling his marker so although he got the ball in the net, the referee’s whistle was long gone. The next action almost led to a goal when Tony Finn beat his man and cut in to hit a shot that hit a defender. The ball looped slowly over the ‘keeper, but the man on the line was in place to head it away.
The Dons’ disappointment was short-lived as they scored from the resulting corner. The ball cleared the central defence and reached Alan Inns at the far side of the six yard box. He hit the ball low and hard and, despite a desperate effort to clear it from the line, the strength of the shot was enough to carry it into the net for Wimbledon to take the lead after 20 minutes.
Filled with confidence the Dons kept attacking but a second goal wouldn’t come. Chris Hussey set up the two best chances, one for Main’s ambitious diving header to go too high and the other for Inns to power a header onto the far post and out to safety.
The second half was much of a stalemate. Basingstoke rarely threatened and Wimbledon offered little more. The highlights were Hatton’s quickly taken free kick, which had Ross Kitteridge scrambling along his line to push the ball out for a corner, and two free kicks by Basingstoke, the first of which had Pullen scuttling along his line to watch it to safety; the second hit the wall and rebounded to safety
The Dons made three substitutions to try for that elusive second goal but it wouldn’t come and there were a few anxious minutes for the fans as the clock ticked down. But the team looked composed and in control so the anxieties were much greater in the minds of the watching fans and management than they were on the pitch.
It was a day for one goal margins, as both Eastleigh and Hampton recorded narrow wins. So attention now turned to Bromley.