Hartlepool’s defence face BIG challenge against Wimbledon even if Adebayo Akinfenwa misses out

Adebayo Akinfenwa in action for AFC Wimbledon against Pools last season
Adebayo Akinfenwa in action for AFC Wimbledon against Pools last season

Hartlepool United’s defenders will face a sizeable challenge even if AFC Wimbledon colossus Adebayo Akinfenwa fails to recover from injury.

Akinfenwa, nicknamed “The Beast” for his imposing 16st physique, has recently struggled with hamstring problems and missed the Dons’ 3-1 victory at York City last weekend.

Another Adebayo, however, Adebayo Azeez, managed to fill the central striking shirt admirably and opened the scoring when former Pools keeper Scott Flinders’ clearance cannoned off him into the net.

While Azeez also stands 6ft-plus, he offers a more mobile threat than the often statuesque Akinfenwa and his trickery plagued the home side all afternoon.

Strike partner Lyle Taylor, a full international for the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, is another towering throwback to the giant Wimbledon FA Cup-winning squad of 1988.

His second-half effort from close range clinched victory before substitute Tom Elliott, yes, you’ve guessed it, all 6ft 4in of him, nodded home the third in added time to cap a deserved win.

But don’t let Wimbledon’s head for heights fool anyone into thinking that the ball will be in the air more than across London at Saturday’s rugby World Cup final.

Midfield pair Dannie Bulman and Jake Reeves tormented York with a series of precision passes as Neal Ardley’s side recorded their second win on the road in four days.

If there was any comfort for Pools then it came in the shaky performance of rookie keeper Ben Wilson.

Wilson, on loan from Cardiff City following an injury to regular goalie James Shea, was at fault for City’s equaliser after dropping a routine cross at the start of the second half while facing the low October sunlight.

A flurry of similar balls nearly produced further dividends for the home side before Wimbledon quickly reasserted their superiority.