AFC Wimbledon 0 Sutton United 1 (Eastmond 30)
In front of a sell-out travelling contingent of 1,200 supporters in a ground record crowd of 8,568, Sutton celebrated a first away league win of the season, and ending a run of five consecutive defeats in all competitions, after a hard fought local derby. There was controversy around the only goal of the game, Wimbledon convinced that goalkeeper Nik Tzanev had been fouled as he failed to gather Rob Milsom's free kick and allowed Craig Eastmond to score, and manager Johnnie Jackson was booked for his touchline protests, but if U's were slightly fortunate to come in ahead at the end of an evenly contested first half, there was little doubt that by the end the result was a fair reflection of the game, with Tzanev standing between his former club and a more convincing victory with several fine saves.
With Will Randall the only one of last Saturday's injured trio to be fit, U's continued with Enzio Boldewijn at right back and Joe Kizzi alongside Coby Rowe in the centre of defence, while Donovan Wilson returned after suspension with a hard-working performance that kept the Dons' back line fully occupied. After a first quarter when little of note happened apart from Wimbledon skipper Harry Pell being booked for a petulant lunge at Omar Bugiel after seeing a penalty appeal turned down, the game came to life as a Wimbledon free kick was cleared as far as Jack Currie, whose mishit shot almost turned in to a perfect cross for Josh Davidson but the striker steered his shot wide of the post.
Sutton replied with a fierce Wilson shot which Tzanev needed two attempts to hold, before at the other end Lewis Ward went low to his left to make a superb save as Pell was left unmarked to meet a corner with a powerful header. The breakthrough came after half an hour, as Tzanev failed to collect Milsom's free kick under pressure and Eastmond stabbed the loose ball in off the underside of the bar. Wimbledon protested furiously, claiming that Tzanev had been fouled but referee Carl Brook ruled that any collision had not been an infringement and awarded the goal.
The home side nearly equalised before the break as Ethan Chislett diverted Currie's shot just over the bar with his head, but that would be as close as they came as they failed to muster a shot on target in the second half, U's unfamiliar defence standing firm. It was Tzanev who was by far the busier goalkeeper, and after being spared embarrassment when, after clearing straight to Bugiel, he was able to recover and save a return shot which lacked any power, he made the save of the afternoon to turn away a Randall shot that was curling low inside the far post.
Another good stop denied Josh Neufville at close range as a Randall cross ran through to him, although Neufville will feel that he shouldn't have given Tzanev the chance to save, and in stoppage time Tzanev did well again to keep out a shot from Tope Fadahunsi, who had barely been on the pitch for a minute when he chased a through ball and sent in a low effort that the keeper saved low to his right.
Sutton: L Ward, J Kizzi, R Milsom, C Rowe, C Eastmond, A Lovatt, E Boldewijn, J Neufville, O Bugiel(sub K Kouassi 81), D Wilson(sub T Fadahunsi 90+2), W Randall(sub S Hart 89). Subs n/u B House, C Dundas, L Gambin, K Thomas. Booked: Bugiel, Randall, Milsom
Wimbledon: N Tzanev, C Gunter, R Towler, I Ogiundere(sub Q Bartley 88), P Maghoma, P Kalambayi, J Currie(sub A Woodyard 69), H Pell, J Davison, A Assal, E Chislett (sub C Senior 70). Subs n/u N Broome, K Hudlin, A Bendle, K Frimpong. Booked: Pell, Maghoma
Referee: Carl Brook
Attendance: 8,568 (1,200 away)