Rashid Yussuff turned out to be Wimbledon’s unlikely hero this afternoon when he inspired the Dons to victory after originally being left out of Terry Brown’s squad.
Yussuff, who was only a late replacement on the bench after an injury to substitute Jack Turner in the pre-match warm-up, scored a fine opener 11 minutes from time and George Moncur sealed it with five minutes left. It was a score that far from flattered the Dons too as the hosts were the better side for long spells against a side chasing an automatic League 2 promotion spot.
Terry Brown made just two changes from the side that started at Crawley with Chris Bush handed a rare chance to impress in place of Gareth Gwillim and Billy Knott replacing the injured Jason Prior. That meant that Christian Jolley was pushed up alongside Jack Midson as Wimbledon looked to penetrate a mean Torquay defence that the club’s promotion chase has been built on.
There was very little goalmouth action in the first 20 minutes as the Dons nullified the threat of Torquay hit-man Rene Howe at one end, but struggled to find a cutting edge in attack. The invention of Knott looked to be Wimbledon’s main threat and he twice almost picked out Jack Midson with fine through balls over the top. However, Howe served notice of his danger for the first time in the 24th minute when he produced a smart turn in the box that created space in the box for a shot, but his final effort was wide of the target.
In his 50th Wimbledon club appearance, Midson was in determined mood to end his recent goal drought and he came so close to reaching a Luke Moore cross before Torquay goalkeeper Robert Olejnik. The hosts gradually began to play their trademark passing football as the first-half wore on and they were almost rewarded with the opener when a dangerous in-swinging free-kick from Knott picked out Jamie Stuart, but the Dons skipper could not get enough on his header.
The visitors absorbed that pressure though and they should have taken the lead in the 35th minute when Stuart failed to clear and Ian Morris was left clean through on goal, but he shot straight at Wimbledon goalkeeper Seb Brown. The invention of Knott almost opened the key to the door five minutes before the break when he sent through another lovely ball that Jolley got to first, but he just failed to flick the ball over the onrushing Olejnik.
Wimbledon continued to be the dominant force after the break and they forced Olejnik into his first meaningful save when he got down low to palm away a fine curling effort from Christian Jolley and the offside flag was up before Midson could apply the finish. Torquay looked nothing like promotion chasers at this stage and Wimbledon were gifted a great chance to take advantage in the 64th minute when Brian Saah’s back-pass was picked up by Torquay goalkeeper Olejnik and referee Adcock awarded the hosts a free-kick from just 10 yards. However, Wimbledon’s free-kick routine failed when Sammy Moore tapped the ball to Sam Hatton and his shot was deflected wide off the wall.
Torquay offered only an occasional attacking threat and when they did stretch Wimbledon, they came up against the impressive Mat Mitchel-King, who was a tower of strength at the back and made a particularly fine tackle to stop substitute Ryan Jarvis going clean through.
Terry Brown made two quick substitutions in the final quarter of the match with Yussuff replacing Knott and Byron Harrison sent on for Midson. Yussuff almost made an instant impression as he produced a marauding run that ended with a shot that Olejnik could only parry.
Wimbledon did make a deserved breakthrough in the 79th minute though that man Yussuff, who produced a clinical curled finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the area after he was picked out by Sam Hatton. It got even better for the Dons when they doubled their advantage after good work from another of their substitutes. Byron Harrison was the instigator as he produced a fine run and cross to find Luke Moore in space and his deft touch set-up Moncur to produce a confident low finish past the helpless Olejnik.