Wimbledon’s dismal away run in 2015 continued as Neal Ardley’s men suffered their heaviest defeat this season.
Jamie Cureton came back to haunt Wimbledon once again with his hat-trick helping Daggers to a 4-0 win. The 39-year-old striker produced a clinical demonstration of finishing to punish Dons for failing to make the most of superior chances and possession in the first-half.
A total of 819 Dons fans watched their side play good football at times, but the cutting edge was sorely lacking and Dagenham ruthlessly exposed deficiencies at the back.
Neal Ardley made two changes to his starting line-up with George Francomb and Alfie Potter both recalled in place of Tom Beere and Ben Harrison.
Taking on a Dagenham side still not completely safe from relegation, The Dons made a shaky start and they were punished inside two minutes. Billy Bingham raced onto a through ball and though Ross Worner blocked his shot, it bounced favourably for Jamie Cureton and his effort had just enough on it to cross the line with Barry Fuller unable to clear.
Wimbledon’s reaction to going behind was excellent and numerous chances followed. Brilliant hold-up play from Bayo Akinfenwa was at the heart of it and a sizeable Dons travelling support sensed that an equaliser was only a matter of time. Sean Rigg had the first effort, just blocked before Dagenham goalkeeper Mark Cousins was required. Cousins was then forced to make his first save to deny Francomb.
Following the first five minutes, Wimbledon dominated possession and therefore chances. The best move of the match so far came midway through the first-half and it so nearly resulted in an equaliser. Akinfenwa controlled a long ball, before sending Potter racing clear and his cross was headed just wide by Craig Tanner. That was the signal for a period of play that really showed Tanner’s talent, indeed all that was missing was a goal. The on-loan Reading youngster shot just wide almost immediately after a lovely run. He was also denied by Cousins as Wimbledon’s momentum grew.
With Deji Oshilaja playing on the left of a back three, the talented defender was certainly not shy in coming forward. Oshilaja, who was a winger in his teenage years, cut inside and unleashed a superb effort that flashed just over the crossbar. Tanner also headed against a crossbar, but the offside flag was up. Wimbledon had completely dominated the first-half and Neal Ardley’s men had played lovely football at times. Daggers had been restricted to quick breaks since the first five minutes and the Dons could count themselves as unfortunate not to be at least level at half-time.
Wimbledon had been unable to regain the attacking momentum that was such a feature of their first half play and Daggers doubled the advantage in the 58th minute. It was a poor goal to concede from a Dons perspective as a routine corner was swung in by Andre Boucaud and Scott Doe was left completely unmarked to head home. Yet again, there was nothing wrong with Wimbledon’s response and Jake Reeves struck a superb 20-yard effort that Cousins was at full stretch to turn onto the top of the crossbar.
The Dons continued to probe with Reeves looking dangerous and he found Rigg in space down the left, but his effort flashed across goal with no one able to get a touch that would have diverted it into the goal. However, Daggers continued to hold plenty of threat on the break and it was effectively all over in the 71st minute. Jake Goodman failed to anticipate a long ball from Luke Howell and Cureton pounced on hesitation from Ross Worner to race clear, before lobbing the Wimbledon goalkeeper. It was 4-0 less than three minutes later when Cureton curled home emphatically after a fine team move.
Wimbledon at least still continued to pour forward, but without reward. First, Bayo Akinfenwa had a header cleared off the line and then Potter was denied by Cousins. There was a notable change with 10 minutes to go as academy product Ryan Sweeney was introduced for his debut in place of Sean Rigg. Ade Azeez was also introduced for Bayo Akinfenwa. Azeez also struck the side netting in the final minutes as Wimbledon endured a day of frustration in front of goal.
The Dons are back on home turf against Oxford United on Saturday and Neal Ardley will be demanding a reaction from his players after a second-half when it all went wrong.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner, Barry Fuller, Dannie Bulman, George Francomb (Tom Beere), Bayo Akinfenwa (Ade Azeez), Sean Rigg (Ryan Sweeney), Jake Reeves, Craig Tanner, Jake Goodman, Alfie Potter, Deji Oshilaja.