Wimbledon endured a fruitless trip to Morecambe today with Kevin Ellison helping himself to a hat-trick at the Globe Arena.
It was a 3-1 defeat that was compounded by a straight red card for on-loan West Ham striker Paul McCallum during a second-half when Wimbledon’s second-half fightback eventually came to nothing. The Dons had threatened to turn around a 2-0 half-time deficit with Jack Midson giving them hope from the penalty spot, but Ellison sealed his hat-trick in the 79th minute and then McCallum saw red three minutes later.
Neal Ardley made three changes from the side which started against Southend United with the most significant being a debut for Paul McCallum. The on-loan West Ham striker replaced Byron Harrison, who was sidelined with a back injury, and there was an important change at the heart of Wimbledon’s defence with Callum McNaughton making his first appearance in eight months after putting a serious knee injury behind him. Yado Mambo was rested on this occasion and George Francomb missed out due to illness and was replaced by fit-again Steven Gregory.
The Dons made a bright start at the Globe Arena, but they conceded a goal in just the seventh minute, Morecambe scoring with their very first attack. It was a goal that was a poor one to concede from a Wimbledon perspective as Morecambe forward Kevin Ellison was allowed to power through midfield and after showing McNaughton a clean pair of heels he finished clinically past Neil Sullivan. Wimbledon steadily recovered their composure after that setback and they created their best chance so far midway through the first-half when good hold-up play from McCallum created a shooting opportunity for Jake Reeves and his powerful effort was just wide of the near post. But a spell of Wimbledon pressure counted for nothing in the 34th minute when the hosts doubled their advantage. Yet again, it was a simple goal in its creation as Morecambe exposed Wimbledon’s soft centre right through the middle with a pass from Stewart Drummond and Ellison was left in plenty of space to double his account for the day.
Neal Ardley had seen enough already and he made a tactical change in the 38th minute when Charlie Strutton entered the fray in place of Stacy Long. The Dons still failed to trouble Morecambe goalkeeper Barry Roche though and it would have to be a much improved second-half performance from Wimbledon if they were to get anything from this match.
Wimbledon struggled to create any momentum at the start of the second-half as their attacking play was not sharp enough. One such example was when Steven Gregory picked out Jack Midson and Wimbledon briefly had a four versus three situation, but the striker delayed his cross and then failed to pick out any of his team-mates. Jonathan Meades, who was lively throughout in the Wimbledon midfield, shot just wide of the target as the visitors began to offer more threat in the second-half.
But it was Jack Midson who provided the spark for a potential recovery as he produced a smart turn in the box and was then sent sprawling in the box by Jordan Mustoe. Referee Craig Pawson had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Midson sent Roche the wrong way with the subsequent spot-kick. It was certainly game on now as Wimbledon started to fancy their chances of completing an admirable fightback. Jake Reeves came close to his first Wimbledon goal when he powered in a shot from 25 yards, but Roche got down well to save. Neal Ardley then shuffled his pack once again when he sent on Kieran Djilali in place of Curtis Osano. Djilali came on at a time when Wimbledon were enjoying a spell of domination as Morecambe retreated deeper and deeper. Reeves, who had his best game in a Wimbledon shirt since joining on loan from Brentford, almost grabbed an equaliser when he struck another fierce effort, but Roche palmed it away superbly.
However, Wimbledon were caught with a sucker punch in the 79th minute and it was a goal that was most unfortunate for McNaughton. The Wimbledon defender’s slip allowed Ellison in and he needed no second invitation to beat Sullivan with an emphatic strike from an acute angle. It got worse for Wimbledon eight minutes from time when McCallum was shown a straight red card for elbowing Nick Fenton in the face, but it looked completely accidental from the West Ham forward.
Reeves came close near the end, but he was denied a consolation by Roche as the Dons slipped closer to the bottom of League 2.
AFC Wimbledon: Neil Sullivan, Curtis Osano (Kieran Djilali), Stacy Long (Charlie Strutton), Jack Midson, Callum McNaughton, Jim Fenlon, Steven Gregory, Will Antwi, Jonathan Meades, Jake Reeves, Paul McCallum.