A cutting edge was once again missing for Wimbledon as Neal Ardley’s men failed to end their long sequence without a win on the road.
Based on chances and possession, the Dons more than matched a side chasing promotion, but finishing was the difference as goals from Tom Soares and Ryan Lowe earned a 2-0 win for Bury.
Sean Rigg came close on five occasions for Wimbledon, but it was not to be for the Dons as they ended their away campaign with a defeat. A total of 312 Dons supporters made the trip and they watched their team produce a first half that deserved more than a 1-0 deficit.
Neal Ardley made just one change to his starting line-up with Jack Smith’s return after injury in place of Craig Tanner resulting in a return back to a 4-4-2 formation. There was a blow for Bury with League 2 Player of the Year Danny Mayor missing out on a vital match for the promotion hopefuls.
Wimbledon showed in the opening exchanges that they could cause Bury problems and there appeared to be plenty of tension in the home ranks with so much riding on it. The Dons came close to capitalising on those nerves early on. Francomb was the instigator of the first chance as he picked out Sean Rigg with a lovely ball and his well struck shot was well saved by Bury goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Smith showed why he had been restored to the side with a lovely piece of skill to create space for Akinfenwa on the left and his pass again created a shooting chance for Rigg, but Pope pulled off an even better save to deny Wimbledon. Bury toiled as an attacking force with no chance of note created in the first half an hour and James Shea untested in the Wimbledon goal. Indeed, the only threat Bury had offered in the first third of the match came when former Wimbledon full-back Chris Hussey whipped in dangerous deliveries from set-pieces. However, a corner from Hussey resulted in Bury breaking the deadlock in the 37th minute with a near post header from Tom Soares leaving Shea with no chance.
While Wimbledon’s defending from that corner was sorely lacking, their response showed that this match was far from over. Rigg continued his personal duel with Pope as he was denied by the Bury goalkeeper once again, this time with a fierce effort from 20 yards. Then Francomb beat two men down the right and his shot had to be turned away by Pope at his near post. However, the Dons were relieved not to go in 2-0 down at half-time when Danny Nardiello beat the offside trap and James Shea with a deft lob, but his effort bounced off a post. Another goal against would have been harsh on Wimbledon with the Dons having contributed so much in the first half.
Bury wasted no time trying to force the issue after half time with Andy Tutte flashing a shot over after good work by Soares down the left. However, Wimbledon had an even better chance minutes later when Francomb sent over a dangerous corner that Oshilaja met powerfully, but his header was just wide.
The game became a bit stretched around the hour mark with both sides really going for it and Rigg, who was everywhere on the day, again tried his luck with a volley from an acute angle that flashed just wide. With Wimbledon having failed to restore parity midway through the second half, Neal Ardley decided to change it with Tanner entering the fray for Azeez. Alfie Potter was also sent on for Smith as the Dons attempted to salvage something from the game. Bury had a great chance to seal it though when Nardiello shot wide from close range.
With Bury having failed to kill the game, Wimbledon continued to threaten and the Dons appeared to have justified claims for a penalty when Tanner was sent sprawling in the box, but referee Geoff Eltringham was unimpressed.
That proved pivotal as Bury effectively wrapped up the three points 13 minutes from time. It was poor from a Wimbledon perspective as Dannie Bulman’s pass was intercepted and Ryan Lowe made no mistake from close range.
Rigg again shot wide in the latter stages, but there was to be no late response from Wimbledon and the Dons will be aiming to end the season on a high against Cheltenham at home next Saturday.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Jack Smith (Alfie Potter), Dannie Bulman, George Francomb, Bayo Akinfenwa, Sean Rigg, Ade Azeez (Craig Tanner), Jake Reeves, Jake Goodman, Deji Oshilaja.