AFC Wimbledon 1
by CHRISTOPHER PARSONS
NIGHTS like tonight cannot be good for one's health.
Just eight days previously, Argyle fans everywhere suffered a severe case of heart break when George Donnelly robbed the Pilgrims of all three points at Macclesfield with a last minute equaliser.
But it was not to be at Kingsmeadow on Tuesday, as Argyle hung on for three precious points that saw them climb out of the npower League 2 drop zone.
Onismor Bhasera's opener, the fastest away goal in the club's history, gave Argyle the dream start after just 11 seconds, before Jack Midson equalised for the home side.
Then, just after the break, Nick Chadwick struck the Pilgrims into the lead once more.
From there on in, it was tense stuff, with both sides spurning opportunities to score.
But ultimately, the Pilgrims held on to record their first win since the 4-0 drubbing of Accrington and to shift themselves away from the wrong end of the table.
Argyle manager Carl Fletcher had made a trio of changes for the Pilgrims' inaugural visit to Kingsmeadow.
In defence, Durrell Berry was preferred to Paul Bignot and in midfield, the returning Bhasera was handed the left midfield birth, in place of Ashley Hemmings whilst Simon Walton made his first start since February 4, thus relegating Conor Hourihane to the bench.
But the real story of the starting line-ups was the inclusion of referee Major Danny McDermid, taking charge of his first Football League match in six months following a tour of duty with the Royal Logistic Corps in Afghanistan.
Quite simply, it couldn't have started any better for the Pilgrims as straight from the kick-off, they took the lead.
Luke Young kicked-off and gave it to Alex MacDonald who drove into the Dons' half before laying it back to Berry.
Berry crossed first time and found the head of Bhasera who steered the ball across 'keeper Seb Brown and into the side-netting.
From kick-off, it had taken less than 12 seconds for the Pilgrims to score, making it undoubtebly the fastest ever goal away from home in the club's 125 year history.
Just minutes later, the Pilgrims had a glorious chance to double their lead when Paul Wotton's free-kick found Chadwick unmarked on the penalty area. Sadly, though, his diving header fell wide of the post.
Young was the next to breakthrough what looked like a fragile home back line but lashed at Chadwick's deft touch and sent his half-volley into the stand.
Argyle were proving that they were equally strong at the back, too, as Maxime Blanchard twice made important blocks as the Dons attempted to force their way back into the game.
But just before half-time, the Dons finally penetrated and allowed Jack Midson, who scored twice against the Pilgrims in the Home Park fixture in August, headed home from a Sammy Moore cross.
There was some confusion as to whether the ball had crossed the line at all, with Purse hooking the ball from the goalmouth before it had hit the net, but referee's assistant Dean Treleaven was sure, immediately heading back to the halfway line with his flag held aloft.
With results elsewhere putting the Pilgrims bottom of the league at half-time, Fletcher's men emerged for the second period knowing that a win was essential.
And, boy, did they show it when within four minutes of the restart, Argyle were in front again, Chadwick making amends for his earlier miss by drilling the ball home from the edge of the box.
It was a great finish, but it was equally well worked as Walton and Bhasera combined for the Zimbabwean to slide Chadwick in for his fifth goal since rejoining in November and his 12th of the season.
Argyle were then forced to soak up some mild Wimbledon pressure before Young, starting his 12th consecutive game for his local club, smashed the crossbar with a drive from outside the area.
Dons substitute Billy Knott, on for veteran Jason Euell just before the hour mark, was beginning to cause the Pilgrims a few problems at the back and the 700+ strong contingent of the Green Army breathed a huge sigh of relief when his cross, delivered after a clever run to the by-line, evaded the attacking players inside the six yard box.
It was now end-to-end, heart-in-mouth stuff, with either team likely to score at anytime.
It was the Pilgrims turn next and Bhasera went close to scoring again but was denied by a superb recovery save by home 'keeper Seb Brown.
A mix up at the back then very nearly cost the Argyle as Berry and Jake Cole both dithered to allow goalscorer Midson to sneak in and poke an effort goalwards. Luckily, it went wide.
Wotton then fired a free-kick into the arms of Brown before Warren Feeney made his first appearance since January 21, replacing MacDonald with eight minutes to go.
Knowing what had happened seven days earlier at Macclesfield, Argyle were not going to start resting on their laurels and as proof, Chadwick forced Brown into a finger tip save just as the clock struck 90.
But this week, there was to be no heartbreak as the Pilgrims held on for those all important three points.
AFC Wimbledon (4-3-3): 1 Seb Brown; 7 Samuel Hatton (11 Luke Moore 70), 17 Mat Mitchel-King, 22 Callum McNaughton, 13 Chris Bush; 25 George Moncur, 15 Sammy Moore (capt), 23 Rashed Yusseff; 12 Christian Jolley (27 Byron Harrison 82), 10 Jack Midson, 29 Jason Euell (28 Billy Knott 57). Substitutes (not used): 6 Brett Johnson, 20 Jack Turner.
Booked: Euell 20, Midson 89.
Argyle (4-4-2): 23 Jake Cole; 2 Durrell Berry, 5 Darren Purse, 22 Maxime Blanchard, 3 Robbie Williams; 15 Luke Young, 8 Simon Walton (capt), 19 Paul Wotton, 14 Onismor Bhasera (20 Conor Hourihane 89); 29 Nick Chadwick, 32 Alex MacDonald (11 Warren Feeney 82). Substitutes (not used): 1 Romain Larrieu (gk), 21 Joe Lennox, 31 Ashley Hemmings.
Booked: Wotton 23, Berry 45, Feeney 90.
Referee: Danny McDermid.
Attendance: 4,578 (710 away).