Wimbledon slipped to defeat in South Devon today with a goal from Freddie Ladapo earning a slender victory for Plymouth Argyle.
The Dons had several chances at the start of the second-half, without taking any of them, and it ended with a 1-0 loss at Home Park. On the balance of play, it was perhaps an undeserved defeat, the hosts edging it with a more clinical edge.
Neal Ardley made just one change to his starting line-up with Andy Barcham earning a recall in place of Mitch Pinnock, who was on the bench. Two former Plymouth players got the nod to start against their old club with Jake Jervis and Ben Purrington both selected.
AFC Wimbledon made a bright start at Home Park with Liam Trotter attempting a shot inside two minutes, but his shot flashed over the crossbar. Scott Wagstaff looked particularly lively early on, the midfielder aiming to add to his recent scoring spree and he had a goal-bound shot blocked. Then Barcham found space on the left and delivered a cross that Wagstaff headed just wide. A real positive of the opening exchanges was good link-up play between Barcham and Purrington, but the latter was just unable to find a Dons target in the box after a promising move early on.
With 17 minutes on the clock, Wimbledon threatened to make the breakthrough when the hosts failed to clear a corner. A goalmouth scramble ensued and Pigott looked certain to score, but he twice had close-range efforts blocked. The Dons had plenty of possession in the first-half with Trotter and Tom Soares getting on the ball a lot. Plymouth finally threatened in the 22nd minute when a free-kick was swung into the box and Yann Songo'o rose highest to get in a header that was well saved by Joe McDonnell, but the flag was up for offside. Freddie Ladapo also had a decent chance after slack defensive play from the Dons initially, but Rod McDonald got back well to block his effort.
Plymouth had the best chance of the game so far in the 35th minute. Wimbledon gave the ball away at the back and it allowed Ladapo to power through on goal, but Deji Oshilaja got back well to get a last-ditch slide tackle in, the ball ending up in McDonnell's hands. Following a promising start, Wimbledon had struggled to mount meaningful attacks, but there was a better spell from Neal Ardley's men just before half-time. A lovely run and cross from Wagstaff ended with a headed chance for Jake Jervis, but his effort was well over. Then Jervis got on the end of a well delivered corner by Wagstaff, but this time he headed wide.
As the half-time whistle shrilled with the score at 0-0, Wimbledon could be pleased with the defensive display, but more was required if the Dons wanted to get three points.
The second-half opened with more urgency from Wimbledon to open the scoring. Jervis headed over again after a good cross from Wagstaff, before the Dons came even closer to a goal shortly afterwards. Good attacking play involving Jervis and Barcham ended with a shooting chance for Joe Pigott and he produced a lovely curler, but it just missed the far post. As Wimbledon attempted to maintain the momentum, Jervis had a shot deflected wide, before Yann Songo'o just managed to get to a corner before Oshilaja.
With an hour gone, there had been no change in the pattern of this game with Wimbledon continuing to threaten, as anxiety increased amongst the home support. The Dons came so close to a breakthrough in the 62nd minute. Oshilaja fired across the face of goal and it picked out Jervis, who appeared set to score his first Wimbledon goal, but his effort was too close to Plymouth keeper Matt Macey, who did well to save.
At the other end, a slack throw-in from the Dons was almost punished when the ball was quickly worked to Ladapo, but hit shot was deflected over. However, there was no reprieve for Wimbledon in the 75th minute. Graham Carey got a short corner back from Ruben Lameiras and his cross was headed home by Ladapo. Shortly afterwards, Wimbledon needed McDonnell to react well to stop Carey from making it 2-0. There was no way back, the Dons unable to restore parity in front of 322 travelling supporters. Next up for Wimbledon is a home match against promotion contenders Portsmouth.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Tennai Watson (Kwesi Appiah), Ben Purrington, Deji Oshilaja, Scott Wagstaff, Jake Jervis, Liam Trotter, Andy Barcham (Anthony Wordsworth), Tom Soares, Rod McDonald, Joe Pigott.
Pic credit: Graham Hunt, Pro Sports Images.