Wimbledon delivered a much improved first-half performance under Interim Manager Simon Bassey, but slipped to an eighth successive league defeat at Doncaster.
Mitch Pinnock (pictured) deservedly put the Dons in front at the Keepmoat Stadium, but an Ali Crawford free-kick and a rifled low effort from Tommy Rowe wrapped up the points for the home side, as they sealed a 2-1 victory four minutes from time.
Will Nightingale and Rod McDonald returned to the Wimbledon defence, Liam Trotter and Anthony Wordsworth came into midfield, with Terell Thomas, Toby Sibbick, Anthony Hartigan and Joe Pigott dropping to the bench.
Bassey took up his role in the technical area, while his assistant Steven Reid kept a watchful presence by the side of the dugout. Wimbledon settled into their shape and started to move the ball around, but were unable to test Ian Lawlor in the Doncaster goal for the opening quarter of an hour. There was an early blow for the hosts as Mallik Wilks had to come off and was replaced by Alfie May after just 13 minutes.
Wimbledon’s first chance came from an end-to-end movement as Kwesi Appiah teed-up Wordsworth inside the area after twenty minutes. Wordsworth was unable to capitalise on the opportunity as Lawlor got to the ball.
Five minutes later though, Wimbledon’s early efforts were rewarded as Pinnock – who notched the winner at Haringey Borough in the FA Cup just over a week ago – calmly slotted the Dons in front for a deserved lead. Pinnock kept up the pressure by whipping in a free-kick and a corner to test Lawlor and the Doncaster defence again.
Just as Wimbledon were growing in confidence though, Doncaster levelled from a set-piece. Crawford curled the ball from distance past keeper Joe McDonnell to equalise ten minutes before the break. Wimbledon responded again as Scott Wagstaff tested the Doncaster goalkeeper from 25 yards, which Lawlor put behind for a corner.
Wimbledon came under more pressure just before the break and in time added on, but managed to go in at half-time on level terms as the defence held firm under pressure. The Dons had delivered a much improved first-half performance.
The start of the second-half was delayed, due to a drone flying over the stadium. After the resumption Doncaster began with an attacking purpose, but were unable to test McDonnell inside the opening five minutes. With quarter of an hour gone, Grant McCann’s side looked more assured, but Nightingale did well to deal with the threat of striker John Marquis.
James Coppinger and Marquis continued to pose a threat for Doncaster, while Pinnock had a deflected effort just about dealt with by Lawlor at the other end around the midway point of the half. Inside the final quarter, Simon Bassey tried to change the flow of the game, as Andy Barcham and top scorer Joe Pigott replaced Pinnock and Appiah.
With ten minutes remaining, forward Jake Jervis replaced Wordsworth, who had received a yellow card shortly before. McDonnell did well to foil Marquis at close range in the 82nd minute.
McDonnell could do nothing about substitute Tommy Rowe’s effort with four minutes to go though, as Doncaster came up with ultimately the match-winner. There were appeals for a Wimbledon penalty late on for a foul on Wagstaff, but the start of Bassey’s second spell in temporary charge ended disappointingly in defeat.
AFC Wimbledon: McDonnell, Oshilaja (c), Nightingale, McDonald, Purrington, Wagstaff, Trotter, Soares, Wordsworth (Jervis), Pinnock (Barcham), Appiah (Pigott).
Pic credit: Simon Davies (Pro Sports Images).