Leaders prove too strong
Wimbledon failed to score for just the second time this season as League 2 leaders Wycombe showed exactly why they are top of the table.
Wycombe’s defence never gave Wimbledon’s forward line a chance to repeat their prolific recent form and the hosts produced clinical finishing when it mattered to win 2-0. The Dons were far from at their best as they failed to test Wycombe goalkeeper Matt Ingram.
Neal Ardley made just one change to his starting line-up after victory against Bury with Jake Nicholson stepping up to fill the central midfield void vacated by the suspended Dannie Bulman. With Tom Beere missing out due to a knock, wide midfielder David Fitzpatrick was called up from the Under-21s to be one of seven substitutes, and Harry Pell also returned to the squad.
With a large Wimbledon travelling support getting behind them at Adams Park, the Dons made a promising start as that involved getting wingers George Francomb and Sean Rigg involved at every opportunity. Though no clear-cut chances were created in the first 20 minutes, it appeared that the Wycombe defenders were going to be in for a tough afternoon with the twin threat of Bayo Akinfenwa and Matt Tubbs causing problems.
Wimbledon had the majority of possession in the first quarter of this match with Wycombe restricted to hitting their opponents on the break. However, Dons goalkeeper James Shea (pictured) was forced to make the first save after 17 minutes when he did well to hold a powerful drive from Josh Scowen. No chances of note were created in the first half an hour though as it was a tight match consisting almost entirely of midfield battles.
Pressure from Wycombe grew during the 15 minutes leading up half-time with Wimbledon forced to defend resolutely. Barry Fuller made a crucial block to clear Sam Wood’s goal-bound header and then James Shea reacted smartly to turn away a fierce drive from Peter Murphy. The Dons managed to ride out pressure from Wycombe that finally showed why they had achieved such a lofty position in the table. However, Neal Ardley’s men needed to show more ambition in the second half if they were to repeat their victories from the last two seasons at Adams Park.
However, Wycombe continued to be the better side after half-time and they were rewarded with the breakthrough six minutes into the second half. The goal was created right through the middle with Steven Craig picking out Josh Scowen, who beat the offside trap and then curled home a lovely finish past Shea. In response, Wimbledon started to commit more men forward and that resulted in more opportunities for Wycombe. Aaron Pierre tried his luck with an effort that Shea was relieved to see go over the crossbar, but then the Dons goalkeeper made a superb save to deny Murphy after he had powered through.
Wimbledon almost fashioned their first real chance after an hour when Sean Rigg picked out Jack Smith in space, but he was just unable to find Matt Tubbs in the box. Adam Barrett then rose highest to meet the subsequent corner, but he headed over the bar. Any momentum the Dons were trying to build was curtailed 20 minutes from time though when they conceded a second. A corner was only half cleared and Craig’s fierce effort across the face of goal was bundled home by Wood with Wimbledon appealing for offside.
Neal Ardley brought on Harry Pell for Jake Nicholson in an effort to spark improvement, but Wimbledon really struggled to create anything as an attacking force. Kevin Sainte-Luce had earlier entered the fray in place of Rigg as Wimbledon searched for a way back into the match.
The Dons failed to create any chances in the latter stages and they will be aiming to bounce back quickly with a home game against Plymouth on Tuesday up next.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Jack Smith, Adam Barrett, Alan Bennett, George Francomb (Ade Azeez), Jake Nicholson (Harry Pell), Sammy Moore, Sean Rigg (Kevin Sainte-Luce), Matt Tubbs, Bayo Akinfenwa.