The Dons slipped to their third successive defeat in disappointing fashion this afternoon with Michael Coulson’s header edging a narrow victory for York.
The visitors were 1-0 up at half-time and Wimbledon failed to produce enough of a cutting edge in attack, even after York striker Ryan Bowman produced one of the misses of the season in the second-half.
With Wimbledon having performed with credit to earn a draw at promotion-chasers Fleetwood last time out, Neal Ardley resisted the temptation to make changes to his starting line-up. It was therefore the first time that the Dons had an unchanged starting line-up since November.
Wimbledon started with a flourish and they produced a move in the third minute that promised so much for the rest of this game. Sammy Moore was the instigator as he picked out Tom Richards in space and the on-loan Fulham youngster, who was making his Dons home debut, cut the ball back for Danny Hylton, but his goal-bound effort was blocked. However, York showed a confidence in possession that came from putting together a five-match unbeaten run before this game and it needed Darren Jones to make a fine last-gasp interception at the back post after a fine move involving Michael Coulson and Ryan Bowman.
It had been an end-to-end first half an hour and Wimbledon threatened to break the deadlock when a corner swung in by Richards was met by the head of Sheringham, but his far post header flashed wide. However, Ross Worner came to Wimbledon’s rescue shortly afterwards when he got down well to save at his near post to save a fierce shot from Coulson after a short corner from Adam Reed. With Wimbledon’s front pairing of Sheringham and Hylton showing good movement up top, there appeared every reason to believe that the Dons could end their recent home drought today. Especially as they really cranked up the pressure on York before half-time. It was Hylton who came closest to putting Wimbledon 1-0 up when he turned smartly after latching onto Barry Fuller’s cross, but he shot just wide of the far post after powering clean through.
Wimbledon’s first-half display had been pleasing on the eye, but York provided stubborn resistance and Coulson was proving tough to handle at the end. Most notably, Coulson burst through and produced a powerful drive that Worner tipped over, but referee Carl Boyeson and his assistant came to the conclusion that it was a goal kick. However, the travelling York City support never had too much longer to wait to celebrate a goal. Neal Ardley was incensed that the man-in-the-middle awarded a free-kick in the first place on the far side for what looked an innocuous challenge, but Wimbledon’s defence paid the price for poor defending after that. After the subsequent free-kick was only half cleared, Lanre Oyebanjo’s deep cross was met by an unmarked Coulson, who directed a powerful header into the bottom corner past Worner’s despairing dive.
It was a real test of character now for Wimbledon to bounce back, particularly after such a difficult time at home in recent months. And they nearly had a mountain to climb a few minutes later when Josh Carson found space in the area and struck a fine effort that flashed past the far post.
With Wimbledon’s performance in need of inspiration as the hour mark approached, Neal Ardley made a bold triple substitution. Jack Midson, Peter Sweeney and Chris Arthur were all introduced in place of Sheringham, Luke Moore and Richards as Wimbledon needed something to lift them. York continued to look dangerous though ands Will Antwi had to clear off the line from Coulson. At the other end, Wimbledon fashioned their first chance of the second-half when Sweeney’s teasing free-kick was headed just wide by Darren Jones.
The Dons were let off the hook in a big way midway through the second-half. Worner made a complete hash of a routine clearance and when Coulson rolled the ball across to Bowman, a goal seemed inevitable, but the York forward sliced wide when it appeared easier to score. Wimbledon struggled to make the most of that let-off though. Despite producing promising approach play at times, the final ball was sorely lacking from Wimbledon and their forwards had only scraps to feed off.
Wimbledon failed to create anything of note during five minutes of injury-time and the Dons must produce much better on Tuesday if they’re to threaten League 2 promotion contenders Chesterfield.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner, Barry Fuller, Tom Richards (Chris Arthur), Aaron Morris, Darren Jones, Will Antwi, Sammy Moore, Michael Collins, Charlie Sheringham (Jack Midson), Danny Hylton, Luke Moore (Peter Sweeney).