Goals from Nile Ranger and Simon Cox win it for Southend
AFC Wimbledon slipped to defeat against Southend United with Phil Brown's promotion-chasers proving too strong on the day.
Goals from Nile Ranger and Simon Cox secured a 2-0 win for the visitors with Wimbledon struggling to test Southend goalkeeper Ted Smith in a home display far removed from the victory against Milton Keynes.
Gone was the tempo and attacking rhythm that had been such a feature on that memorable night and it was all a bit flat from a Wimbledon perspective.
However, it was just Wimbledon’s second defeat in eight matches and a rare off day in recent weeks.
Neal Ardley made three changes to his starting line-up after the battling draw at Fleetwood. Tom Soares was recalled after an ankle injury with Jon Meades also deemed fit enough to return and Lyle Taylor joined Tom Elliott in attack. Dannie Bulman, Dean Parrett and Tyrone Barnett missed out on this occasion.
In a very tight first half an hour with few chances, Southend forced James Shea into action early on when he showed good reactions to turn aside a shot from Anthony Wordsworth that he would have seen late through a crowd of bodies. At the other end, Wimbledon probed for openings, but found it tough to penetrate a well-drilled Southend defence. Andy Barcham was lively early on and he shot just wide after latching onto a flick-on from Elliott, but it was only a half chance. Wimbledon also worked a decent opening for Soares to try his luck from just outside the area, but his shot was way off target.
minute as they watched their team take the lead. Nile Ranger picked up a loose ball on Wimbledon’s right, before beating two or three challenges and striking a shot that lacked power, but found the bottom corner. Going behind was perhaps harsh on Wimbledon judging on the balance of play, but Southend had shown all the qualities of a side chasing promotion by defending well and making the most of their attacks.thWith a third of the match gone, there had been little in the way of goalmouth action and the crowd needed something to get them off their seats. The visiting Southend fans did have something to celebrate in the 35
In response, Wimbledon struggled for a way back into the game before half-time. There was only a hint of a half chance when a through ball just eluded Taylor, who had shown good movement to get in behind. The half-time score reflected a good away job done so far by the visitors with more needed from Wimbledon if they were to get back into this game.
minute. It was fortuitous in its creation with a shot from Ranger deflecting into the path of Cox, who needed no second invitation to crack home emphatically.thThe second-half started with Wimbledon again attempting to get attacks going, but meeting with stern resistance and at the other end, Shea had to stay alert to turn away a shot from Simon Cox. As Wimbledon laboured, Southend took full advantage and it was 2-0 in the 64
With Wimbledon 2-0 down now, it needed something different and Neal Ardley decided to introduce Dean Parrett for Soares. With the cushion of a second goal, Southend looked comfortable now and they could afford to sit deep and hit Wimbledon on the break. There had been little to cheer for the majority of the 4,803 supporters at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, but it had been a clinical away display from a side chasing promotion.
The latter stages were difficult for Wimbledon as Southend threatened to make it three, most notably when Southend substitute Theo Robinson was put clean through, but he fired against a post after beating Shea. Southend were able to see it out fairly comfortably and Wimbledon have a quick chance to make amends with Rochdale up next at home on Tuesday night.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Will Nightingale, Paul Robinson, Darius Charles, George Francomb, Tom Soares (Dean Parrett), Jake Reeves, Jon Meades, Lyle Taylor (Dominic Poleon), Tom Elliott (Tyrone Barnett), Andy Barcham.
Pic credit: Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images.