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Match Reports

AFC Wimbledon 0 Imps 2

12 March 2022

Battling City moved eight points clear of the relegation zone as goals from Lewis Fiorini and Ted Bishop sealed an impressive win at AFC Wimbledon.

Fiorini and Bishop struck either side of the break and, although the Imps had to dig in after being reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Brooke Norton-Cuffy, they showed real grit to ensure they left the capital with all three points.

Tom Hopper, Joe Walsh and Lasse Sorensen returned to the starting line-up with Ben House also coming in on the bench.

The game opened in frantic style, with Jordan Wright the first goalkeeper to be tested as he made his second start for the Imps - getting down quickly to block and hold a low shot from Rudoni after seven minutes.

Wright was in action again three minutes later, but his positioning to defend a free-kick from just outside the area was perfect as he punched away Lee Brown’s powerful set-piece.

The Imps got into their groove and started to threaten themselves. A great run from Norton-Cuffy after 12 minutes resulted in an opportunity, but his pull back was just behind Marquis.

And Fiorini brought a save out of Nikola Tzanev shortly afterwards, collecting the ball from Morgan Whittaker after a short free-kick, but his shot was routine for the home keeper to save.

Chris Maguire tried his luck from distance as the game reached the 20th minute, as space opened up for him, but his effort looped narrowly over the bar.

The momentum was with the visitors, with Whittaker fouled after going on a dangerous run and Marquis unable to direct a header on target after Fiorini’s cross from the right.

Wright had to be alert to turn away a long-range shot from Dapo Mebude, before the visitors took the lead.

The goal came after Fiorini was allowed way too much space after collecting the ball from Whittaker, and promptly unleashed an unstoppable shot from 25 yards out into the top-left corner of Tzanev’s goal.

The visitors had the first chance of the second period, too, after Whittaker won a corner. The low delivery was flicked on by Hopper, but scrambled away.

And Hopper was again in the thick of it shortly afterwards as he flicked on Sorensen’s cross from the left, with the keeper out quickly to claim the ball ahead of Walsh.

Zach Robinson will have felt he should have levelled for the Dons shortly after the hour mark after Luke McCormick won the ball back and played him through, only for the attempted to finish to end up with the ball in the stand.

The dynamic of the game changed after 66 minutes when Norton-Cuffy was shown a straight red card for reacting to Brown with a shove.

That prompted a defensive reshuffle from the Imps manager Michael Appleton, with Whittaker sacrificed in favour of Cohen Bramble as his side shifted to a back four.

City had to dig in now, with the experience of Hopper and Marquis vital in keeping the ball up at the other end even when chances to score were at an absolute premium.

Jack Rudoni did have the ball in the back of the net after 79 minutes, but it was ruled out as play had already been stopped for Eyoma’s late challenge on Robinson.

The aforementioned experience of the front two ultimately provided the decisive second goal with six minutes of the game to go. Marquis chased down Tzanev to block his clearance, before providing a low cross for Bishop to deftly flick into the bottom-right corner.

That created breathing vital breathing space. Although City had to dig in and survive some scary moments - not least when Anthony Hartigan went down under pressure from the visiting keeper Wright, with the referee booking the home player for simulation rather than awarding a penalty kick - they went on to earn three vital points.

Attendance: 8,174

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