AFC Wimbledon suffered an undeserved defeat at home to Fleetwood today after Shane McLoughlin's first goal for 11 months had threatened to get The Dons back to winning ways.
A late goal by Paddy Madden condemned Wimbledon to a 2-1 defeat that was particluarly harsh after the home side dominated for long spells. At 1-1 following McLoughlin's leveller, Wimbledon appeared to be the team in best shape to go on and win it, but it was not to be on the day.
Glyn Hodges made two changes to his starting line-up after the defeat against Accrington. One of those was enforced with Scott Wagstaff missing out due to injury and he was replaced by Shane McLoughlin. Paul Osew was also recalled with Anthony Wordsworth having to settle for a place on the bench. New signing Julien Lamy was also named in Wimbledon’s squad for the first time and perhaps he could make an immediate impact after joining on loan from Rotherham.
It didn’t take long for Wimbledon to threaten an opening goal and it was Paul Osew who almost made the breakthrough. The young left-back tried his luck in the first minute with a shot from outside the area and it flashed just wide. A good start by Wimbledon continued when Jack Rudoni showed good skill in the area to find Shane McLoughlin and his goal-bound shot was blocked. It had certainly a much more energetic start than at Accrington last Saturday, a match in which Wimbledon had been punished for a slow start.
It had been all Wimbledon early on as Fleetwood were forced onto the back foot, but the flow of this game was interrupted by a clash of heads. Mads Bech Sorensen came off worse in a clash with Harry Souttar, the Danish Under-21 international having to go off due to a head injury. Initially, Wimbledon didn’t replace him as he received treatment in the physio room and Fleetwood made the most of the one-man advantage by taking the lead. A corner was swung in that Wimbledon failed to deal with, though Luke O’Neill claimed he had been fouled in the box, and Ched Evans appeared to get the final touch in the ensuing scramble with Joe Day just unable to stop it crossing the line. It was a poor goal to concede and Wimbledon had to show plenty of character now to fight back.
Wimbledon’s response to falling behind was a very positive one. With Rod McDonald introduced for the injured Mads Sorensen, there was no longer a numerical advantage for the visitors, and Wimbledon piled forward in search of an equaliser. It so nearly came when McLoughlin’s cross from the right picked out Mitch Pinnock and his header on found Joe Pigott, but he headed over from close-range. However, the home faithful didn’t have long to wait for the equaliser though and it was certainly a goal worth waiting for when it came in the 34th minute . Jack Rudoni showed superb skill on the left flank to beat his marker, before sending over a cross that picked out Shane McLoughlin, who headed home emphatically. Going in level at the break was the least that Wimbledon deserved after dominating for long spells.
The second-half started with Wimbledon continuing to probe for more openings, but Fleetwood were providing stubborn resistance, sitting deep and attempting to hit on the break. A second Wimbledon goal almost came just after the hour when Osew cut the ball back for Pigott and he struck a shot that was deflected just wide of the far post. Though Wimbledon committed more men forward in search of a second, Fleetwood defended well and it was proving difficult to find another goal. Osew was a good outlet on the left and Mitch Pinnock showed his attacking qualities at times, but the visitors were defending stoutly. Glyn Hodges therefore decided it was time for Julien Lamy to get an opportunity, the winger entering the fray in the 74th minute in place of Jack Rudoni.
Following his introduction, Lamy was given a warm welcome by the Dons faithful and an early demonstration of his skill showed promise of what was to come. However, Fleetwood scored against the run of play in the 81st minute. Barrie McKay found space on the Fleetwood left and sent over a cross to fellow substitute Paddy Madden, who found the back of the net at the second attempt. On the balance of play, going behind was harsh on Wimbledon.
The Dons poured forward in search of a late equaliser and there was a half chance for Terell Thomas after Fleetwood keeper Alex Cairns failed to gather a cross, but he shot over the crossbar. A late leveller just wouldn’t come for Wimbledon and it was an undeserved defeat, especially bearing in mind the home side’s first-half performance. It’s certainly not a time for Wimbledon’s squad to feel sorry for themselves as a repeat of this display, albeit with more of a cutting edge, could well earn three points against Ipswich on Tuesday night.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe Day, Luke O’Neill, Terell Thomas, Anthony Hartigan, Mitch Pinnock, Jack Rudoni (Julien Lamy), Shane McLoughlin (Adam Roscrow), Mads Sorensen (Rod McDonald), Callum Reilly, Paul Osew, Joe Pigott.
Pic credit: Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images.