Wimbledon got their Ryman Premier campaign back on track with a comfortable win at Redbridge, even enjoying the luxury of a 45 minute warmdown after an excellent first-half display.
Dave Anderson was forced into a couple of changes by injuries to his squad as the Dons travelled to Redbridge looking to bounce back quickly after the Worthing defeat. Mark Cooper continued to deputise for the stricken Steve Butler, while the available Michael Harvey was preferred to Sonny Farr in midfield.
In contrast to recent early horrorshows, it was the Dons who found an early goal. Dave Sargent matched his wing skills with an equally potent cross and Shane Smeltz rose to head back across the keeper and inside the far post for a well-taken goal after just seven minutes.
Wimbledon settled into a 4-4-2 formation, with Sargent and Harvey overlapping and working together well down the left. Smeltz and Butler also worked well as a double act in the opening minutes, unsettling Clarke Masters in the home goal on two occasions as he looked to gather difficult high balls. A low Harvey cross was hacked behind for a corner, which was eventually headed away from under the posts after a Cooper header.
It looked as though a second had to arrive shortly afterwards. First a Barry Moore freekick hit the wall, then Smeltz was denied from a header by a fantastic save by Masters. The All White striker jinked around and sent another shot goalward which was also saved, before the ping-pong pandemonium concluded as Daly?s eventual goalbound shot was hacked away with Masters beaten.
But the second did arrive just before the half hour mark. Harvey was felled by Bradley David for what felt like the seventeenth time so far on the night, proving what your mother always said, that you should never trust a man with two first names. Unless his name is Michael Harvey and he plays for your team, obviously. Or Antony Howard. Er, anyway?
Meanwhile, back at the game, Richard Butler was less easily distracted from the task in hand than this correspondent. His quick free-kick sent captain for the night Barry Moore scampering away down the inside-left channel. Our shaven-headed leader needed no second bidding and hared into the area to unleash a howitzer past Masters. It might have gone in anyway, in the event it rocketed into the net via a valiant if vain attempt at a clearance by a ham-fisted, or perhaps ham-footed defender.
Fans of extended porcine metaphors were not to be disappointed, as ham feet were matched by ham fists almost immediately. A long ball fell to Smeltz after a poor clearance and his low volley swerved, dipped, bounced and eventually snuck in at the near post as Clarke was well and truly mastered.
The first 45 minutes drew to a close with the three nil lead intact, the first time the Dons had been once, twice, three times goalscorers in the first half since playing Horsham last March.
Matt York replaced Micky Woolner at half-time, while David was released from his Harvey torment as Apata appeared for the home side. Touhy almost dragged Redbridge back into the encounter early in the second period, but could only drag a rebound effort wide.
The Dons appeared to have left their cutting edge in the changing room, and there was little repetition of the first-half excitement until Mark King replaced Richard Butler for his first appearance of the season. It might have been his arrival that awoke the visitors from their torpor, or it might have just been a coincidence, but almost immediately Smeltz and Moore combined to draw a save from Masters from a freekick. The concidence theory was given further credence as little else occurred as the game descended into its death throes, other than Andy Little dealing comfortably with some Redbridge crosses.
Touhy sent a long shot wide for Redbridge with a couple of minutes remaining, but in truth Wimbledon?s early work had already done more than sufficient damage. Three goals and three points ? what more could anyone want?