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Wright double puts Dons back in the hunt

Wrighty grabs the goals

By Oli
April 10 2009

Dons' automatic promotion hopes may be slim but with results elsewhere going their way, they are certainly not out of it as a Mark Wright double saw them snatch a 2-0 win against Southend United at Roots Hall. Loanee Stephen Gleeson, making his second Dons appearance, was the provider for both, crossing for Wright to head home early in the second half. And the winger, reinstated to the team for the first time last Saturday after falling out of favour for three months, finished a clinical Dons counter-attack to seal the victory.

Dons boss Roberto Di Matteo made two changes to the side that beat Brighton 2-0, both forced. Peter Leven and Sam Baldock both dropped out through injury and were replaced by Luke Howell, who joined Gleeson in central midfield, and Luke Chadwick, who started wide on the left with Jason Puncheon playing just off lone striker Ali Gerba.

It was the home side who enjoyed the better start, with Theo Robinson, a threat all afternoon, hitting a superb half-volley from outside the area that Willy Gueret did very well to keep out after three minutes. Dons had their first effort a couple of minutes later, Puncheon shooting well wide after good work from Chadwick and Gerba.

Damien Scannell was looking half a threat and shot wide when Howell only half cleared Alan McCormack's free-kick. Scannell then saw a shot from distance blocked by Howell with Franck Moussa firing wide from a good position just outside the area on 18 minutes.

Southend were really getting in and amongst the Dons, putting plenty of pressure on the away side, with Anthony Grant's man marking job on Puncheon summing that approach up. But the best chance of the half did fall to a Dons player as Chadwick was guilty of missing a real opportunity on 32 minutes.

Gleeson fed Puncheon on the edge of the box and the on loan Plymouth man found Wright, who's decent effort across goal was blocked. The ball bounced out for Chadwick, no more than six yards out, but the winger could only unconvincingly toe poke it into the arms of Steve Mildenhall in the Southend goal.

Puncheon tested Mildenhall two minutes later with a powerful long range effort that the 'keeper palmed over his crossbar.

Dons were enjoying a good period in what had been a relatively even match, with spells of good football from both sides but nothing sustained. Gleeson and Puncheon worked the ball up to Gerba on 43 minutes and the Canadian laid it back off for Gleeson, who's shot was deflected wide.

Southend were again quicker out of the blocks in the second half, with Dons having Sean O'Hanlon to thank for keeping the score level. After clearing Scannell's cross the centre-back superbly got in the way of Lee Barnard's goalbound shot, with Gueret beaten.

McCormack forced another very good save from Gueret from a free-kick that took a couple of deflections, and the 'keeper did even better to hook it away from the lurking feet of Barnard. Southend were back a couple of minutes later and again it was McCormack that was denied, this time from inside the area, with the Dons appealing for an earlier foul on Wright.

The home side were maintaining their high line and applying lots of pressure when the Dons were in possession, and the obvious result was that they were going to eventually be drawn out and openings were going to begin to appear. It was just a matter of the Dons counter-attacking efficiently enough to take them, and they did on 59 minutes as Wright grabbed the opening goal.

Some excellent play from Chadwick in the centre saw the former Man Utd man feed it to the right hand side where Gleeson was waiting. His first-time cross was a peach but it still required a good finish, and Wright provided that with a diving header from inside the area. The winger developed a knack for bagging crucial goals last season, and that might be a big one in the Dons' season yet.

Southend faded but Gueret wasn't left totally untroubled. McCormack's switch ball found Moussa in the box but the wide man volleyed tamely into the arms of the Frenchman, who enjoyed another superb afternoon.

Tore Andre Flo and Jude Stirling were introduced for Gerba and Chadwick respectively as the Dons looked to close the game out and earn a vital three points. Southend brought on Dougie Freedman, Francis Laurent and Kevin Betsy all around the 75 minute mark, with Barnard, Robinson and Scannell departing.

Southend continued to put the ball in the box from set-pieces but a couple of scrambles aside the Dons were never really troubled, and put the game beyond doubt in injury time, again courtesy of Wright. It was Gleeson who was once again the provider, excellently knocking the ball past Peter Clarke before waiting for support in the Southend half. Wright arrived and curled Gleeson's lovely ball from the right beyond Mildenhall from just inside the box.

A second consecutive win, a second consecutive clean sheet and the Dons seem to be back on track, although they had Gueret to thank on a couple of occasions for some more superb goalkeeping. It was a snatch and grab job maybe reminiscent of one of the many last season under Paul Ince, with Wright, despite his time on the sidelines, proving himself to be an important piece of the jigsaw with two classic far post finishes to earn MK three points.

It's not over yet.

Southend: Mildenhall; Francis, Dervite, Clarke, Barrett; Scannell (Betsy 77), McCormack, Grant, Moussa, Barnard (Freedman 74), Robinson (Laurent 74).

Unused subs: Sankofa, Christophe.

Booked: Grant, McCormack.

: Gueret; Regan, O'Hanlon, Llera, Lewington; Wright, Howell, Gleeson, Chadwick (Stirling 66); Puncheon (Belson 89); Gerba (Flo 71).

Unused subs: Abbey, Johnson.

Booked: Howell

Goals: Wright 59, 90+1.

Attendance: 10,241 (998 Dons)

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Wright double puts Dons back in the hunt
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10/04/2009 20:25
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