AFC Wimbledon were left to rue several missed chances in the second-half at Blackpool today.
The 2-0 final score-line was perhaps harsh on Wimbledon with Neal Ardley’s men having the better of the game in the second-half, but failing to find that cutting edge.
Conceding a sloppy opening goal cost Wimbledon with Blackpool’s second coming when the visitors were chasing the game near the end.
Neal Ardley made four changes to his starting line-up with James Hanson, Will Nightingale, Anthony Hartigan, and Scott Wagstaff recalled to the team. Liam Trotter, Joe Pigott, and Tennai Watson had to settle for places on the bench with Andy Barcham missing out due to injury. Deji Oshilaja filled the right-back spot and it was certainly an attacking Dons side with forwards Hanson, Jake Jervis, and Kwesi Appiah all included.
There was an early warning for Wimbledon in the sixth minute when Nathan Delfouneso found space on the left and put over a cross that picked out Harry Pritchard, who produced a powerful header that thudded off the crossbar and it was eventually scrambled away for a corner. There was no reprieve from the subsequent flag kick with Jay Spearing putting in a lovely delivery to the back post that appeared to be going straight in, but Curtis Tilt claimed the last touch.
Wimbledon found it difficult to conjure up a response after that early setback and the hosts threatened to double the advantage in the 27th minute. Blackpool danger-man Pritchard should perhaps have done better when a cross rebounded off Deji Oshilaja into his path, but he fired over the crossbar. The Dons started to grow into this match as the first-half progressed and a good spell followed around the half hour mark. Kwesi Appiah had a half chance when he got on the end of a cross from Oshilaja, but he struck his finish wide from an acute angle. Jake Jervis then produced a smart turn outside the box, before letting fly with a shot that flashed just past the post. There was another encouraging sign when Purrington delivered a dangerous cross from the left that Jervis came close to reaching at the back post.
With five minutes remaining of the first-half, Wimbledon came so close to an equaliser. Appiah showed sharp forward play to get on the end of a flick-on by Hanson and his powerful volley was impressive too, but Blackpool keeper Mark Howard did really well to save it. A foul on Hanson 25 yards out also earned a decent chance from a free-kick for Wimbledon, but the shot from Jervis was well held by Howard. Despite going in 1-0 down at the break, Wimbledon could take encouragement from a good finish to the first-half.
Wimbledon started the second-half with a real determination to get back into this game and a fine move fashioned a very good chance for Jervis. Hartigan, Hanson, and Jervis combined to find Appiah on the left and his cross picked out Jervis, but he headed over the crossbar. Playing towards the Wimbledon travelling support in the second-half, Neal Ardley’s men continued to push forward in search of an equaliser. A fine challenge in the Blackpool half by Oshilaja summed up how much the Dons wanted to end a difficult recent run. Jervis almost marched through on goal, but Blackpool defender Marc Bola got in a last-ditch clearance.
Blackpool were penned back deep into their own half by the hour mark and another Wimbledon chance went begging. Scott Wagstaff found Oshilaja in space and his cross was met by Appiah, but his header was well held by Howard. Then Wagstaff had an opportunity to net his third Wimbledon goal, but he dragged his shot wide. With Blackpool appearing to have stemmed the tide, Neal Ardley made two changes in quick succession. Mitch Pinnock was introduced for Ben Purrington and Joe Pigott replaced Appiah up front. Pinnock was straight into the thick of the action and he had a shot deflected wide. Then he put over a lovely cross that picked out Hanson, but his header was straight into the grateful arms of Howard. With 10 minutes to go, referee Anthony Backhouse waved away Wimbledon appeals for a penalty with Tilt appearing to handle in the box when under pressure from Hanson.
Wimbledon had certainly played well in the second-half, but Blackpool scored the killer second in the 84th minute with Marc Bola allowed space on the left and he fired home impressively into the bottom corner. There was no way back for Wimbledon, but there’s little time to dwell on the defeat with a trip to Bristol Rovers coming up on Tuesday night.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Ben Purrington (Mitch Pinnock), Deji Oshilaja (Liam Trotter), Will Nightingale, Scott Wagstaff, Anthony Hartigan, Kwesi Appiah (Joe Pigott), Jake Jervis, James Hanson, Tom Soares, Rod McDonald.