The Dons were on the receiving end of another heavy defeat this afternoon after an inept defensive performance at Bradford.
They say lightning does not strike twice, but it so nearly did for AFC Wimbledon as they came close to conceding six for the second time in five days after the midweek humbling at the Pirelli Stadium. The manner of the goals conceded was particularly galling as the visitors were 5-1 down at half-time, Bradford not having to produce anything special to cause real problems at the back for Wimbledon. There was little to enthuse about from a Wimbledon perspective, apart from that the score stayed the same during the second-half as Bradford eased off the gas.
It was a much-changed defensive line-up for the Dons at Bradford with new loan signing Curtis Haynes-Brown coming straight in at left-back for Warren Cummings and Jim Fenlon making his first start on the other flank in place of Angus MacDonald. Terry Brown also decided to hand Byron Harrison a starting role up front for the injured Luke Moore after the former’s goal-scoring cameo at the Pirelli Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Dons suffered the kind of start that Terry Brown would have dreaded in his pre-match team-talk. Instead of keeping things tight early on and building from there, the Dons conceded in just the third minute. It was a far from unavoidable goal yet again as a long ball right through the middle was allowed to run right through to Nakhi Wells and he rounded Seb Brown, before tapping into the empty net. Wimbledon did provide a good response to that setback and a promising move ended with Haynes-Brown delivering a teasing cross that was headed wide by Pim Balkestein. However, the home side continued to look dangerous and Kyel Reid tried his luck from 30 yards with a shot that fizzed wide. The home faithful did not have to wait long for a second though and it came in unfortunate circumstances for new boy Haynes-Brown as he diverted a Nathan Doyle cross into his own net. At this stage, it was like Tuesday’s nightmare at the Pirelli Stadium was happening all over again, the Dons having this time conceded one less inside 12 minutes.
It nearly got worse for the Dons in fortuitous fashion when a tame shot from Reid deflected into the path of Wells and Seb Brown had to be out quickly to deny him a second. But it was 3-0 just after the half hour as the Dons conceded a catastrophic third goal. A free-kick from nearly the halfway line by Andrew Davies was missed by Seb Brown after a mix-up with Balkestein and the ball squirmed into the empty net with Wimbledon claiming a foul on the goalkeeper.
The visitors were seemingly celebrating a lifeline in the 36th minute when Harrison rose highest in the box to head home a Louis Harris free-kick. However, just a minute later they were 4-1 down when James Hanson got on the end of a corner and Rory McArdle tapped home from close range. It was so nearly 4-2 on the stroke of half-time when a Haynes-Brown long throw was headed just wide by Balkestein. However, there was still time for Bradford to make it five when Wells crossed from the left and Hanson found the top corner with a powerful header.
Wimbledon had left themselves with a mountain to climb in the second-half, but Terry Brown this time chose to make no changes at half-time, unlike at Burton when he made three substitutions. The hosts took their foot off the pedal after the break and the Dons almost got another one back when Christian Jolley’s shot took a wicked deflection, but Bradford goalkeeper Matt Duke got down well to save. It would have been 6-1 though but for Seb Brown as he reacted well to save from Zavon Hines. The game had to be stopped for six minutes after a serious injury to Haynes-Brown, the on-loan left-back having to be stretchered off following a clash with Bradford striker Hines.
Wimbledon struggled to make an impression as an attacking force in the second-half, only a Stacy Long lob over the crossbar threatening to get one back. It needed Seb Brown to make another fine save from Reid after a mistake from MacDonald to limit the damage.
AFC Wimbledon: Seb Brown, Louis Harris, Pim Balkestein, Mat Mitchel-King, Stacy Long, Sammy Moore, Byron Harrison, Jack Midson, Christian Jolley, Jim Fenlon (Angus MacDonald), Curtis Haynes-Brown (Warren Cummings).