It was a tough afternoon for Wimbledon today as the Dons conceded five goals and slipped to a first home league defeat in almost two months.
The 5-2 loss was also compounded by what looked like a serious knee injury to Andy Barcham, who had earlier opened the scoring for the Dons with a lovely goal.
Despite playing good football for long spells, Wimbledon paid the price for poor defending as Jim Bentley’s Morecambe took full advantage.
Neal Ardley made just one change to his starting line-up with Bayo Akinfenwa handed a recall up front in place of Ade Azeez.
The Dons came into this match aiming to make it four league wins out of five at home and they had the perfect start inside four minutes. A move down the left ended with Lyle Taylor releasing Andy Barcham and he showed superb skill to cut inside his marker, before beating Morecambe goalkeeper Barry Roche with a cool right-footed finish.
Barcham had spoken in the build-up to this match about the need for Wimbledon to show more cutting edge in attack and he certainly delivered in style. Akinfenwa then headed straight into the arms of Roche as Wimbledon continued the attacking momentum. However, the Dons paid the ultimate price for a lack of concentration in the eighth minute. Semi Ajayi allowed Morecambe’s Shaun Miller space to turn and then brought him down in the box with referee Trevor Kettle pointing instantly to the spot. Miller subsequently picked himself up and beat James Shea from 12 yards, despite the Wimbledon goalkeeper going the right way.
Lyle Taylor had been a constant menace early on and he set-up Akinfenwa for an effort that Roche got down well to save. It came against the run of play when Morecambe seized the advantage – and it was a goal completely out of nothing. There appeared to be little danger when Miller took aim from 35 yards, but it was a well struck effort that took Shea by surprise and it looped into the net for 2-1 to Morecambe.
Barcham showed what he was all about once again when he burst down the wing and slipped past his marker, but no one could get on the end of his cross. Then came the incident that overshadowed the first-half when Barcham went down under a challenge from Shaun Beeley. It did not look good straight away and the game had to be held up for almost 10 minutes with Barcham receiving treatment from physio Stuart Douglas, before he was stretchered off.
Wimbledon tried to recapture their early threat, but Akinfenwa headed wide after good work down the right from Barry Fuller. During almost 10 minutes of first-half injury-time, Dons fans vented their fury at referee Kettle, who had seemed very reluctant to award any free-kicks for Akinfenwa and his team-mates as Morecambe defended resolutely. There was worse to come deep into first-half injury-time when Aaron McGowan delivered a free-kick from the left and Alan Goodhall headed home for 3-1 with the Dons punished for poor defending.
Neal Ardley’s men certainly had a mountain to climb with a 3-1 deficit to overcome at the break, but it was a task that became easier less than four minutes after the break. Substitute Francomb, who had earlier replaced Barcham, swung in a dangerous corner and Akinfenwa appeared to get the final touch to beat Roche.
It was game on now as the home faithful roared the Dons forward. It could have been 3-3 when a cross from Taylor landed at the feet of Dannie Bulman, but he shot just over. It was all Wimbledon as we approached the hour mark with Morecambe camped on the edge of their own box.
Despite having all the possession in the second-half – Morecambe had barely mustered an attack after the break – it was proving tough to create clear-cut chances. With the visitors defending in numbers, chances were at a premium, but Wimbledon did threaten when Taylor set Rigg free down the left and his cross had to be beaten away by Roche.
With 15 minutes to go, Tom Elliott was sent on in place of Rigg as Wimbledon looked for something different in attack. However, it was effectively all over nine minutes from time when Morecambe scored a fourth. With the Dons piling forward, a long ball forward picked out Tom Barkhuizen and he sped away from Ajayi, before producing a deft lob that left Shea with no chance. Meades shot wide after a defensive scramble as Wimbledon refused to give in. However, there was worse to come when Morecambe substitute Paul Mullin was left with a simple task after a pass from Barkhuizen had left him with a tap-in following a quick break.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Paul Robinson, Semi Ajayi, Jon Meades, Dannie Bulman, Jake Reeves, Andy Barcham (George Francomb), Bayo Akinfenwa, Lyle Taylor, Sean Rigg (Tom Elliott).