Oxford United made it back to back league wins with a 3-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon this afternoon. A fine goal from top scorer Wes Thomas, a joyous strike from Ricardinho and a first league goal for Xemi Fernandez gave United all three points as their season continues to gather momentum.
It took 12 minutes for the breakthrough and when it came it was a beauty. Ledson, superb in midfield, curled a perfect pass round a defender for Thomas who initially seemed to have his path to goal blocked. However the striker showed great strength to touch the ball past his man and keep going, then finished superbly with a low left footed effort across visiting keeper George Long for an expertly taken opener.
United have struggled for consistency at times but today were the real thing, especially in the opening moments; James Henry brought a good save out of former United custodian Long after another incisive move through midfield
The Dons were still dangerous and George Francomb planted a shot narrowly wide after 22 minutes to remind United of their defensive duties. Indeed the impeccable Nelson and Ledson both made great challenges in the first half hour to keep it at 1-0.
The game lost its way for a while- Henry slamming a rare effort over the fence after 35, Dean Parrett dragging one wide at the other end - but United’s bright start has been enough to justify a half time lead and only a perfectly timed tackle by Francomb took the ball off Henry’s toe as he threatened to break away for a second goal on the stroke of half time.
Simon Eastwood, back in the side after missing his first game in 76, made a magnificent, crucial, save in the first minutes of the second half and two minutes later United were 2-0 up through one of the most popular goals scored at the stadium.
United’s little Brazilian left back has made a huge impression since joining and when Henry broke clear on the right and clipped a cross into the box Ricardinho was in acres of space to drive the ball back across Long and into the net for his first goal for the club- joyously celebrated by the crowd as they roared his name as one.
Wimbledon struggled to find a way past the impressive United back line of Nelson and the three O trio of Ribeiro, Mousinho and Ricardinho and Eastwood's save grew in significance the longer the game went on. The final pass was just a yard wide of its mark or a defender would make a crucial block but United were playing some delightful football and the movement and quick thinking were a joy to watch at times. A third goal was inevitable.
As with the win at Peterborough last week the one downside was due to injury, Gino van Kessel, having delayed joining up with his country to be available for this game, came on as a sub and hobbled off soon after, Fernandez being the sub to come on for a sub.
It meant that the U's effectively ended without a recognised striker on the pitch but with five minutes left they were 3-0 up. The outstanding Henry made it once again by hammering in a shot that Long pushed out. Xemi, all on his own, rifled the ball back past him for his first league goal.
3-0 and Wimbledon were beaten. Game, set and match United.
Report by Chris Williams. Pictures by Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA
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