AFC Wimbledon's impressive run of form was ended tonight at Burton with a first-half goal from David Templeton enough to win it for the hosts.
Wimbledon improved after the break and could even have snatched a point at the end, but Burton deserved the 1-0 victory after dominating the first-half. The attacking fluency that had been so evident in recent weeks was lacking from Wimbledon and the chances were only created right at the end of this match after Burton had squandered opportunities to kill off the game.
Unsurprisingly, it was an unchanged starting line-up for Wimbledon after the stirring weekend victory against Portsmouth. Indeed, it was exactly the same squad with teenager Jack Madelin retaining his place on the bench. Wimbledon came into this match aiming to extend an impressive winning streak against a Burton side that had been on the receiving end of a 4-1 defeat at Fleetwood last time out.
The Dons started slowly at the Pirelli Stadium with Burton dominating and it needed Nathan Trott to stay alert early on. The on-loan West Ham keeper did well to hold a searching cross from Nathan Broadhead early on and that early warning was not heeded by Wimbledon, as Burton pressed forward in numbers. Trott was required again in the eighth minute when he reacted well to deny Liam Boyce. Broadhead, who was all-action in the early stages, then produced a free-kick that had Trott scrambling across to his right, but the ball flashed just wide.
Wimbledon had offered very little as an attacking force early on, but Paul Osew attempted to ignite his side with a power-packed run down the flank, but no one was able to get on the end of his cross. Almost immediately, Osew was required at the other end as he got back quickly to stop Broadhead getting a shot in. As we approached the midway point of the first-half, Wimbledon’s midfield had been unable to establish good possession with Burton keeping hold of the ball effectively. A good chance followed for David Templeton just before the half hour, but he dragged his shot wide. However, that was only a temporary reprieve for Wimbledon as the hosts made the breakthrough in the 31st minute. The Dons were caught square at the back and a simple pass through picked out Templeton, who this time made no mistake.
Going behind at least produced signs of attacking life from Wimbledon. Again, it was Osew who was the spark as he charged down the left and picked out Scott Wagstaff with his cross, but the Dons midfielder was stretching and he was only able to steer the ball over. At the other end, Wimbledon needed Trott to be alert to prevent Burton’s quick breakaway from bringing the ultimate reward, the young keeper tipping a shot from Ryan Edwards wide. The half-time whistle came with Wimbledon still 1-0 down and Glyn needed to get a reaction from his players during the interval to try and turn this around.
Though Wimbledon started the second-half with a bit more attacking intent, a quick Burton break should have doubled the advantage. Liam Boyce was picked out through the middle and he went clean through, but he fired into the side netting with the goal gaping. That was a big let-off for Wimbledon and there was still a chance to get back into this game with the hosts having failed to put this game to bed. Another chance followed for Broadhead, but he was denied by Trott.
By the hour mark, Wimbledon had still struggled to create anything of note. Mitch Pinnock showed good skill to create a shooting opportunity for himself, but he shot over the crossbar after cutting in from the right. Glyn Hodges made his first change in the 61st minute when he sent on Nesta Guinness-Walker for Paul Osew. With 20 minutes to play, there was a real let-off for Wimbledon as Burton missed a glorious chance to kill the game off. A cross from the left picked out Broadhead just six yards out, but he took his eye off it and missed an absolute sitter.
Guinness-Walker had certainly added energy and verve to Wimbledon’s play since his introduction and he almost set-up the equaliser with 10 minutes to play. An impressive run down the left created space and his cross found Appiah at the near post, but his shot was just wide. There was a notable substitution with seven minutes to play as Dons academy product Jack Madelin came on for his debut in place of the injured Ryan Delaney. With two minutes left, Wimbledon almost fashioned a chance when Pigott headed on Guinness-Walker’s cross, but Anthony Wordsworth was just unable to get on the end of it. There was a sniff of a chance for Wimbledon when Pigott headed on Guinness-Walker's cross, but Anthony Wordsworth was just unable to get on the end of it and Burton held on for the three points.
AFC Wimbledon: Nathan Trott, Terell Thomas, Scott Wagstaff, Mitch Pinnock, Marcus Forss, Ryan Delaney (Jack Madelin), Max Sanders, Paul Kalambayi (Kwesi Appiah), Paul Osew (Nesta Guinness-Walker), Joe Pigott, Anthony Wordsworth.
Pic credit: Aaron Lupton, Pro Sports Images.