AFC Wimbledon 0Wigan Athletic 4

A wonder-strike from Max Power - his first goal in 72 matches, a run stretching back 20 months - helped Wigan Athletic to a 4-0 victory at AFC Wimbledon that cements their position at the top of League One.

Saturday, 16th December 2017, 4:18 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th December 2017, 7:50 pm
Nick Powell is congratulated by Sam Morsy

Power, on as a second-half substitute for Gavin Massey, rifled in to the top corner from 30 yards after having a free-kick played short to him, to notch the killer third goal.

Fellow replacement Ivan Toney then made it four, seconds after coming on for Will Grigg with two minutes to go, to add the icing to the cake.

But Wimbledon will feel the scoreline was extremely harsh given how deep Latics had to dig to gain a stranglehold on the game.

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It took Latics some 55 minutes to make the breakthrough, when good work from Massey down the right allowed Michael Jacobs to slot home.

The home side were then rocked by the sending-off of Harry Forrester midway through the second half for a second booking - and after that there was only one winner.

Nick Powell capped a superb individual display with the second goal on 73 minutes, a magnificent finish after he surged into the box past a couple of would-be defenders, before Power and Toney seized their opportunity to shine.

At the other end, Christian Walton barely had a save to make as Latics recorded a 12th clean sheet of the campaign - the best in the country.

Although the first half was nip and tuck, Latics could and perhaps should have been in front inside two minutes.

Powell played in Massey with a lovely pass, but the winger - in for Ryan Colclough, the only change from the last league game - dragged his shot badly wide of the mark.

Will Grigg was receiving plenty of stick from the home fans, on account of his previous MK Dons ties, and his mood wasn’t helped when he was pulled back from a promising attacking position by a late offside flag that he clearly disagreed with.

Latics came close again on 19 minutes when Massey’s cross found Jacobs, whose first-time shot was somehow saved by home goalkeeper George Long.

The rebound fell to Lee Evans on the edge of the box, but the Welshman’s drilled shot flashed inches wide of an unguarded net.

Evans tried his luck shortly after from further out, but this time it was straight down the throat of Long.

Latics were lucky to escape following a bizarre incident 10 minutes before half-time when they were fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty.

Jacobs’ attempted clearance from a corner was brilliantly controlled by the referee just inside the box, with Forrester appearing to get his toe to the ball before being clattered by Dan Burn.

Somehow the referee gave a free-kick to Latics - which conveniently spared his blushes.

Wimbledon finished the half well, with a good cross from the left proving only just too high for Tom Soares, who couldn’t control his free header.

Forrester was then handed off by Morsy 30 yards out, but the home side couldn’t make the most of a free-kick from a very dangerous situation.

But as half-time approached, Morsy looked a certain scorer from the edge of the box, only for his shot from Reece James’ cross to flick just wide off a defender.

It was something of a surprise how the game remained goalless, but that was rectified within 10 minutes of the restart.

Massey made amends for his early miss by teeing up Jacobs, who found the corner of the net from close range.

It was almost 2-0 in a flash, with skipper Morsy feeding Powell, whose left-foot shot fizzed just wide.

Wimbledon showed their character by regaining the ascendancy, with Forrester shooting just wide before forcing Walton into making a fine save low to his right.

However, hopes of a home comeback were dashed at the three-quarter mark when Forrester, on a yellow, ill-advisedly clattered Morsy right in front of the official, who had no hesitation in brandishing red.

That was the signal for Latics to withdraw Massey and send on Power, who almost found Jacobs immediately with an attempted reverse pass that was well snaffled by Long.

The respite was only temporary for Wimbledon, however, with Powell waltzing his way through before lashing the ball into the roof of the net with 17 minutes to go.

Power made it three a mere seven minutes later, his celebrations in front of the away end showing just how much the goal meant to him.

Powell was withdrawn with six minutes to go to give Noel Hunt a run-out, and the veteran striker was inches away from making it four, only for defender Darius Charles to get back and somehow backheel the ball to safety.

Toney replaced Grigg with two minutes to go, but there was still time for the on-loan Newcastle striker to lead a lightning-fast counter, and find the net via a fortuitous deflection over the goalkeeper.