Nicky English shuffled his pack for the home encounter with Horley Town, handing Shane Small-King and George Snee starts as injuries reduced his options. Danny Oakins and Gareth Graham made it as far as the bench, with Jamie Angell continuing his partnership with Matt Everard in the centre of defence.
The game started slowly, with ten minutes without incident. Then, as the Dons defence seemed to sleep, Davis broke clear in front of Angell and stayed upright despite close hassling from the centre-back. To Angell?s relief, he blazed high over the bar when he really should have tested Standen.
Almost immediately, Darren Dobinson marauded forward on the break. Gavin Bolger teed up Sandy Sullivan and his excellent cross was headed just over by Jamie Taylor.
Taylor was then poleaxed in the act of setting up the Dons next chance. As he stayed down, Seb Favata eventually struck a weak shot from the edge of the box, which Lockwood held onto easily.
The Dons were struggling to exert their normal dominance as Horley?s regimented midfield didn?t allow them any time on the ball.
From a long ball Taylor raced away and beat Taylor right on the byline. His pullback should have been easily cleared by Farrow, but his poor first touch saw him scramble to avoid an embarrassing own goal as he hoofed it gratefully clear with his second and third.
Taylor next swivelled on a low diagonal cross from Favata. He connected well enough, but directed his sidefoot straight at Lockwood.
Finally, with eight minutes to till halftime the breakthrough came and it was courtesy of two of the new men. Small-King showed great strength on the ball on the left hand edge of the area to hold off his man. His floated far post cross caught the left back and goalkeeper napping and Snee ghosted in to convert it with the deftest of touches.
One minute later Bolger cut inside, beat two men and planted a shot inside the far post for 2-0.
With half-time approaching, Steve Gibson limped off to be replaced by Danny Oakins, lining up at right back for the first time since the early weeks of last season.Small-King created more problems for the Horley defence and was clearly impeded as he beat his man on the left once more. Despite the offence clearly occurring inside the area, a free-kick outside the box was the referee?s decision. Dobinson curled it over in the last real chance of the half.
In the second half, the Dons looked for more goals. Oakins was felled on the edge of the box, but no free-kick was given. One minute later, Bolger was upended and Small-King stepped up for his Dons free-kick. Perhaps overawed by the hushed anticipation around the ground as people remembered his efforts for AFC Wallingford last season, he blasted it at the wall. As the ball was cleared, Oakins stepped up to drive wide from distance.
Small-King then held the ball up well before turning and firing wide from outside the box. At the other end, Lyward shot from distance but his low shot was easily saved by Standen.
On 62 minutes, Everard found himself in the clear from a Sullivan free-kick but sliced his shot wide with Lockwood out of position. Both sides made a change, with Gareth Graham replacing Snee. He slotted into central midfield alongside Favata, with Bolger pushing out on the right and Sullivan coming back across to play on the left wing.
Graham is still pushing to regain match fitness, but his touch hasn?t deserted him during his intermittent and lengthy lay-off. He played Bolger in, but his snapshot was held by Lockwood. Then Small-King rounded the keeper, but was driven wide. His pullback was collected by Gavin Bolger, who cut inside and rolled a shot past the keeper, but with Jamie Taylor watching, the ball rebounded off the post and clear.
Some erratic refereeing followed as Oakins conceded a freekick for being fouled and a clear backpass was picked up by Lockwood without sanction.
The game petered to a satisfactory conclusion as Wimbledon rarely looked threatened, but they struggled to create many more chances of note themselves. Jones Bamfo came on for another cameo role, but was quieter than against Cobham or Southall.
Following the game, acting manager Nicky English said:
?We huffed and puffed a bit, but that?s another notch on the way to the title. Small-King held the ball up excellently and showed himself to be the player we knew he could be. I?ve now got a big but nice problem working out where to utilise his potential best. He?s probably not ideally an out and out forward but he was excellent today. Darren Dobinson was exciting as well and gave us options going forward.
?To be fair, it wasn?t a great performance. We didn't do as well as we can and should do collectively and we?ll be looking to improve on a few things for Saturday. But with three games coming up in a week and needing to use the squad to the best of its ability, it was good to get three more points secured.?