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By Adam Harwood, at the Cherry Red Records Stadium
Saturday, February 16, 2013
League Two: AFC Wimbledon 2 Bradford City 1
AFC Wimbledon left it late, but a glancing header from on-loan Gary Alexander secured all three points in a tense atmosphere at Kingsmeadow.
The Dons left it until the 93rd minute to record only their third home league win all season, and while they remain rooted to the bottom of the league, there are now three teams within one point of Neal Ardley’s side.
If Bradford had one eye on next week’s Capital One Cup final against Swansea City, it didn’t show in an edgy first half with the Bantams settling fastest.
With neither keeper being especially tested, shots were generally restricted to long range efforts. Kyel Reid went close early for Bradford with a half volley, while an even better effort from Wimbledon’s Peter Sweeney from a similar position dipped just over the crossbar.
Reid, who infuriated much of the home support with some early falls giving Bradford free kicks, was proving to be the main Bradford danger man, linking up well twice with Andy Gray who just failed to connect.
Yet it was Wimbledon who had the best chance of the half, Alexander drilling a low cross past visiting keeper Matt Duke, but Rashid Yusseff made too little of his shot, giving Duke time to recover and collect the ball.
The second half saw Bradford take a 58th minute lead with more calamitous defending from Wimbledon’s back line – a facet that has typified the Dons’ season. New centre back Alan Bennett sent a weak back header towards Neil Sullivan, and quick as a flash, Garry Thompson nipped in to clinically finish into the top corner.
With Wimbledon heads dropped, the Bantams enjoyed their best spell with Thompson denied in a one on one situation with an excellent recovery tackle from Bennett. Reid also drilled an effort narrowly wide with Bradford looking to shut up shop.
Yet a series of substitutions from the Dons ultimately changed the game. With six minutes left, a cross from sub Pim Balkestein was deftly flicked towards goal by another sub Jack Midson. Gary Alexander seemingly poked the ball past Duke from close range, certainly one for the Dubious Goals Panel to take a look at.
Better was to come in the final minute of injury time. A dubious decision to award the Dons a second successive corner preceded a deft cross from Ajala. Meeting the ball at the near post was Alexander, beating Duke and steering the header into the top corner to send Wimbledon fans into raptures.
The league position may not have changed, but Wimbledon are beginning to show a real fight for survival. Next up – promotion chasing Northampton Town on Tuesday night.
AFC Wimbledon: Sullivan, Hussey, Meades, Mitchel-King (Balkestein), Bennett, Ajala, Pell, S Moore (Midson), Yusseff (Sainte-Luce), Alexander, Sweeney
Attendance: 4,320 (621 from Bradford)
Man of the Match: Toby Ajala