AFC Wimbledon slipped to a third successive league defeat today with goals from Stephen Quinn, David Templeton, and Liam Boyce earning victory for Burton Albion.
The 3-0 score-line did flatter Burton with Wimbledon squandering chance after chance to get back into it on the day. However, Neal Ardley's men paid the price for a slow start and Burton needed no second invitation to grab the initiative in this match at the Pirelli Stadium.
Neal Ardley made six changes to his starting line-up after the gallant Carabao Cup exit to West Ham. Tennai Watson, Ben Purrington, Will Nightingale, Scott Wagstaff, Anthony Wordsworth, and Kwesi Appiah all earned recalls in place of Toby Sibbick, Tyler Garratt, Rod McDonald, Mitch Pinnock, Anthony Hartigan, and James Hanson. Jake Jervis was on the substitutes' bench just a day after signing for the Dons on loan. Burton had certainly been busier than Wimbledon on loan transfer deadline day as they brought in four new players, including Chelsea defender Bradley Collins.
Burton came into this match on the back of a morale-boosting Carabao Cup win against Aston Villa and they made a swift start, pushing the Dons back early on. The hosts had the first meaningful chance in the 13th minute when a ball through the middle from David Templeton put Liam Boyce through and he did well to hold off Deji Oshilaja, but his shot was over the crossbar. Wimbledon were almost punished for slackness at the back shortly afterwards when Oshilaja delayed a clearance and it resulted in Scott Wagstaff giving away a free-kick just outside the area. It was a good free-kick opportunity for Burton just 20 yards out, but Scott Fraser shot against the wall.
Wimbledon struggled to contain Burton early on and the hosts had a great opportunity in the 21st minute when Scott Fraser was played in on the left flank, but he dragged his shot wide. It wasn't until midway through the first-half that Wimbledon showed signs of emerging as an attacking force. Wagstaff found space after the referee played advantage for a foul on Liam Trotter and his shot from 30 yards was a good one too, but Burton keeper Bradley Collins palmed away his powerful drive.
With Burton having had the better of the first-half, it was no surprise when they opened the scoring in the 34th minute. Purrington cleared a cross into the box, but Wimbledon's players reacted too slowly and Stephen Quinn took full advantage by striking a powerful volley that left Tom King with little chance. A spirited response to that setback followed from Wimbledon and Appiah twice came close to equalising in quick succession. First, his shot from close-range was deflected onto the crossbar, and then Tennai Watson picked him out with a cross to the back post, but he headed it agonisingly over the crossbar. Wimbledon were still in the game at 1-0 down when the half-time whistle shrilled, but more urgency was required in attack.
Wimbledon started the second-half on the front foot and Wagstaff once again threatened to make a difference, but his shot was just over the crossbar. It was much better from the Dons now and two big chances in succession followed for Wimbledon. They could not have fallen to a better player for Wimbledon with top scorer Joe Pigott on the end of both of them. However, his first effort after being put through by strike partner Kwesi Appiah was deflected over and then he headed over from close-range after getting on the end of a well delivered corner from Anthony Wordsworth.
Despite the improvement, Burton doubled their advantage in the 54th minute. Will Nightingale lost out to Liam Boyce in a battle for the ball and the Burton striker square squared it to David Templeton, who made no mistake from close-range. With the Dons now committing more men forward, Burton extended the advantage to three on the hour. The hosts found space on their left to get in a cross and Boyce met it well with a powerful header. There was a double change straight after for with Jake Jervis coming on for his debut in place of Kwesi Appiah and James Hanson entering the fray for Scott Wagstaff. The two substitutes combined to almost pull one back when Hanson headed on for Jervis, but his shot was well saved by Collins.
As we entered the last 15 minutes, Mitch Pinnock was introduced for Tennai Watson, but still the chances continued to be squandered by Wimbledon with Pigott striking wide from close-range. Though Wimbledon continued to press for a goal back with Hanson firing wide of the target, there was no way back for the Dons and next up is another away match with a Checkatrade Trophy group game at Charlton Athletic.
AFC Wimbledon: Tom King, Tennai Watson (Mitch Pinnock), Ben Purrington, Deji Oshilaja, Will Nightingale, Scott Wagstaff (James Hanson), Kwesi Appiah (Jake Jervis), Liam Trotter, Andy Barcham, Joe Pigott, Anthony Wordsworth.
Pic credit: Simon Davies, Pro Sports Images.