Two goals in the first 22 minutes saw Oxford United beat AFC Wimbledon 2-0 at the Kassam Stadium this afternoon. Strikes from Jordan Obita and Matty Taylor were enough to give the U's all three points, although they were thankful to keeper Jack Stevens for a number of excellent saves to earn them another clean sheet.
United looked rested after an enforced ten-day lay-off and were 2-0 up inside the first quarter of the 90 minutes.
The opener began with Alex Gorrin lifting his bandaged head (it is a law that one United player has to wear one in every game this season, and the Spaniard was wrapped up after a fifth-minute cut) and driving forward from midfield. His pass sent Josh Ruffels away and he rolled a neat pass into the feet of Obita, who turned and fired a low effort across the keeper for his first goal for the U’s.
The Dons were then disrupted when captain Ben Heneghan limped off soon after, with centre-half Terrell Thomas also booked for scything down Marcus McGuane. More damaging was that in giving away that free kick he also paved the way for the second goal.
Liam Kelly is clever from set pieces and with the Dons half-expecting a shot, he instead lifted a cute pass into the box which Taylor took down expertly and smashed past Trueman for 2-0, his eighth goal of the season and third in two games.
Wimbledon responded and James Henry had to clear a shot off the line on the half hour before Stevens once again underlined his potential with a magnificent double save, first blocking a Chislett effort with his chest then recovering to claw a follow up from Callum Reilly over the bar when he seemed beaten.Thomas nodded the corner wide when he should have done better, just to add insult to injury.
United should, however, have been out of sight at the break but the otherwise excellent McGuane blazed a chance over the bar when Obita and Taylor both turned down shooting chances to try and provide a wonder strike, and they went close to a third soon after the break with some desperate Dons defending just about nicking the ball away at two or three vital moments.
That missed chance before the break kept the game alive and United rode their luck at times as their young keeper came to the fore. It took a little bit of good fortune to maintain the two-goal gap when a Jack Rudoni shot hit the post, came back, hit the keeper and went wide just before the hour, but there was nothing lucky about another astonishing save from Stevens when he beat away a Ryan Longman effort on 73, or Henry being in the right place to clear off the line once again a minute later. Longman missed the best chance of them all, planting the ball wide on 76 - ref Purkiss awarding a corner suggests another vital touch from Stevens that wasn't apparent from my angle but was the best save of them all if true.
The U's still looked like they had more goals in them. A Gorrin chip was floating in until Trueman tipped it over in the 61st minute and there were plenty of good balls across the face of goal without anyone to finish them off.
No matter. A win, a clean sheet and another decent performance. All that was missing was the crowd.
Merry Christmas. Miss you.
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA