Match Report


Sat 22 Aug 09

The U's fell to their first defeat of the season on Saturday - but it wasn't for the lack of fight and effort.

The Dons had earned themselves a two goal advantage but, after a tactical switch by caretaker boss Joe Dunne, the U's battled their way back into the game and the home side were relieved to see the final whistle when it finally arrived.

The U's had had a number of chances, but it proved to be the two that were taken by the Dons that just about got them over the finshing line. The visitors had named an unchanged side from the one that started against Gillingham on Tuesday night, whilst Matt Lockwood replaced Gary Holt on the bench. The visitors started brightly but were kept at bay by a Dons defence yet to concede a goal this season when the game got underway. And it was the home side that had the first chance on seven minutes as Johnson cut in from the left wing and moved the ball onto his right foot, curling an effort just beyond the far post. Johnson was seeing plenty of the ball early on, so Vincent was needing to protect Beevers to ensure that the Dons didn't get too much joy down that side of the pitch. At the other end, the U's put together a good move through the middle. Fox was the man to slide Vernon in and, having faked to shoot, the striker then sliced his second shot wide under pressure from Woodards, who had been moved into the middle due to the lack of central defenders available to Paul Ince. Following a U's move that nearly got the marauding Beevers in on goal, the home side escaped down the right with Easter and his low cross to the near post was turned towards goal by Chadwick, but his effort eventually went out for a throw despite looking at first that it might go in the far side of the goal. The Dons had probably edged the first quarter of an hour, but Vernon was the next one to have a go just after that time had elapsed, a ball dropping in front of him as he poked one straight at Gueret. It then looked like Hackney might get a shot away on seventeen minutes as a cross from Vincent found him on the far post but, as he went to set himself to shoot, Howell nicked the ball off his toes. The Dons thought they had scored when Johnson volleyed a cross into the bottom of the net from an acute angle, but when there was a collision in the six yard box, the referee decided to call it back for a penalty. Easter was the man to step up for the spot kick, and although Williams managed to guess the right way, the shot was firm enough to find the bottom corner and give the Dons the lead. There was then an injury worry for the U's as Beevers was hurt in a coming together between himself, Johnson and Okuonghae, and he was subject to lengthy treatment before eventually being replaced by Alan Maybury. The U's then went close from a dangerous free kick into the box - Gueret needed to get fingertips to send it away from the goal with Baldwin and Tierney ready to nod home at the far post. From another set piece, the ball almost then found Lisbie before the ball was turned away from danger. Looking for a way through the home defence, the U's first called for a free kick and then a penalty, but the referee was happy on both occasions that the ball was played. The visitors were at least starting to build a spell of pressure, and almost drew level on 36 minutes. Lisbie drew the keeper off his line as he broke the offside trap and as the ball was moved across goal by the striker and then Fox, Vincent put his shot the wrong side of the post with the goal being covered by two defenders. The Dons should then have doubled their advantage five minutes before the break as they slipped Easter away on goal. The front man did everything right, but Williams stayed big and ensured that the ball was sent away from danger when really it should have been 2-0. The U's then looked like that they might get in themselves as a cleverly crafted move saw Izzet slide a deliberate ball into the feet of Vincent, but as he slipped away from Howell, it just caught his heels. Izzet, normally the destroyer in midfield, was in the thick of the action as he turned provider on more than one occasion. Williams then pulled off another sensational save as Puncheon got in down the right and as the ball skewed off Okuonghae, the U's goalkeeper reacted superbly to tip the ball away from danger. And those saves nearly proved crucial as the U's went close. Vincent was set in on goal by Lisbie and his shot took a deflection that took it only inches past the post. They then nearly got into the danger area with a well crafted move by the U's. Hackney slid in Vernon and with two players waiting, he was unable to get his cross beyond Gueret, who snaffled up the low ball. Down at the break, the U's started the second half on the front foot, winning a series of corners that caused trouble in the otherwise resolute Dons defence. In an attempt to take the sting out of the U's riposte, the home team were happy to take their time getting the ball back into play from set pieces, slowing the play down a touch. But whilst they had completely bossed possession after the restart of the game, the U's nearly found themselves two down on 54 minutes. The Dons hit the visitors on the break and as Easter slid the ball across to Puncheon in a one on one with Maybury, it seemed he had a simple task to tuck home. His first touch was poor and his second was worse, as he sliced the shot well wide of goal. But the home side made no mistake on 58 minutes when the ball was slid through to Carrington. Okuonghae missed the tackle and the midfielder retained his composure to round the outrushing Williams and slot the ball into the exposed net. The U's almost responded immediately. They broke through the left hand side and Lisbie cut the ball back to the awaiting Vincent. It was slightly behind him and, as he went to shoot, he had the ball nicked off his toes by Davis. Lisbie was then tugged back in a dangerous position by Howell - the Dons defender fortunate that there were players around him when he took the striker down to earth. The U's made their second change on the hour mark, going 4-3-3 for the final half hour, with Hackney replaced by Perkins and Vincent pushing up alongside the U's two existing strikers. It almost paid instant dividends. Vernon flicked on a ball down the left hand side, Lisbie helped it into the danger area and although Vincent got a decent connection on his shot, the keeper tipped it away from danger. Gueret's job was a little easier a minute later as, with Lisbie wrestling for the ball on the ground, he eventually managed to work it clear and poke in a shot that was a simple collect for the keeper. The U's attacking triumvirate then combined again. Lisbie pushed it forward to Vernon and although it clipped his heels, it went to Vincent who strode forward who smashed in a shot that Gueret held well. The visitors' tactical change was paying rich dividends as the U's began to ask questions. Those questions got the answers they deserved as the U's scored the first goal beyond Gueret this season, as the ball came across from the right for Vernon to head home into the bottom corner. That saw the Dons make instant changes to solidify their team, with Ibehre and Doumbe coming on for the final stages of the match. The U's were in the ascendancy though and had the momentum in the match as it entered its final twenty minutes. They were fired up and were crunching into tackles as they sought the equaliser. They had silenced the home support and Fox was the next to go close as the ball was only half cleared from a corner. It came out to the midfielder who hit a low shot that skipped past the side netting with Gueret flat footed. With twelve minutes to go, the U's made their final change, introducing Thomas for Vernon as they looked for the equaliser in the match. They nearly managed that with seven minutes to go as a ball deflected over the Dons defence and into the path of Vincent. It looked for a split second that he might get in, but Gueret was quick off his line to tidy up. The U's should have been level sixty seconds later as they crafted a fine move which ended with Tierney dropping the ball into the path of Izzet but, as it bounced, he smashed it well over the crossbar. They then crafted another effort, as the ball was fed over by Perkins. Lisbie arched his back, but headed the ball wide of the far post.

The Dons fans thought their side had seen the game home, but were left worried when they saw a five minute spell of additional time put up on the screen.

U's: Williams, Beevers (Maybury), Baldwin, Okuonghae, Tierney, Vincent, Izzet, Fox, Hackney (Perkins), Vernon (Thomas), Lisbie

Subs not used: Cousins, Wordsworth, Malton, Lockwood

Att: 8,633 (Away: 663)
    Data provided by Press Association

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