Play-off hopefuls too good
Neal Ardley’s men today suffered their heaviest defeat since 4 February with promotion contenders Bradford City simply proving too strong on the day.
Though Wimbledon were on the wrong end of a debatable penalty for City’s opening goal, the hosts were worthy 3-0 winners.
It provided little cheer for the 450 travelling Dons on the final away day of 2016/17 for AFC Wimbledon as defeat made it five games without a victory, since the impressive 3-1 win against Rochdale.
Neal Ardley made three changes to his starting line-up after the draw against Peterborough last time out. Dannie Bulman, Will Nightingale and Dean Parrett all earned recalls in place of Tom Soares, Toby Sibbick and Tyrone Barnett. Parrett was played in a more advanced role, supporting Lyle Taylor in attack.
Following an impeccable minute’s silence for those who lost their lives in the fire disaster on 11 May 1985, the hosts started on the front foot. Alex Jones struck an early warning sign when he shot just over from close-range, Joe McDonnell watching the ball go off target. In the first 20 minutes, Wimbledon restricted Bradford to very little. Jones and former Dons loanee Charlie Wyke both had efforts wide, but both of those were ambitious attempts from outside the area.
Wimbledon put together some decent moves in the first half hour, without really threatening to create anything. The closest hint of an opportunity came when Darius Charles delivered a lovely ball through the middle that almost found Lyle Taylor, but it was just cut out before it reached him. With Wimbledon having been barely troubled, it was something of a surprise when Bradford took the lead. They needed a big decision from referee John Busby to go in their favour though with the man in the middle adjudging that Jon Meades had brought down Josh Cullen. It appeared the Bradford man was already going to ground before the challenge came in, but a penalty was awarded and Tony McMahon beat McDonnell, who had dived the right way.
The Dons struggled to conjure up a response, but the situation was not helped by a rash challenge on Jon Meades that resulted in the Wimbledon man being withdraw. Bradford captain Romain Vincelot’s tackle was late and high, but referee Busby deemed it only worthy of a yellow card. Sean Kelly entered the fray shortly afterwards with Meades unable to continue. With virtually the last kick of the half, Wimbledon conceded a second goal. A speculative effort from Mark Marshall – possibly intended as a cross – deceived Joe McDonnell to make it 2-0.
minute when Andy Barcham cut inside and had a crack, but his effort was straight at Bradford keeper Colin Doyle. At the other end, Wimbledon needed an excellent last-gasp challenge from George Francomb to stop a clear-cut chance for Bradford.thNeal Ardley made a positive half-time change with Darius Charles withdrawn and Dominic Poleon taking his place. Immediately, Poleon set about having an impact as he produced a pacey run down the flank to earn a corner. Wimbledon had a first effort on goal in the 50
Wimbledon did improve going forward after the break with Jake Reeves and Bulman getting more on the ball to set-up attacking situations. Barcham had a shot deflected just wide of the target as Wimbledon pressed. However, with the Dons committing more men forward it opened things up for Bradford and Nicky Law shot over the crossbar with a great chance.
minute when McMahon cut in from the left and finished clinically. There was no way back for Wimbledon and the Dons will be aiming to end a barren recent run at home to Oldham next Sunday.thWith 17 minutes to go, the Dons withdrew Dean Parrett and sent on Alfie Egan, who gained a taste of playing in a big game atmosphere in front of 18,615 supporters. With Bradford pressing on for a third goal in the latter stages, Wimbledon were forced to defend deep and Will Nightingale showed plenty if defensive resilience to stop the hosts. However, a third goal followed in the 85
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Jon Meades (Sean Kelly), Dannie Bulman, Will Nightingale, Paul Robinson, George Francomb, Jake Reeves, Andy Barcham, Dean Parrett (Alfie Egan), Darius Charles (Dominic Poleon), Lyle Taylor.
Pic credit: Simon Davies, Pro Sports Images.