A much-improved second-half display from Wimbledon was not enough to earn a point at Accrington Stanley today.
At 2-0 down on the hour, the Dons looked dead and buried, but substitute Scott Wagstaff struck a superb individual effort and Jake Jervis, who also made a positive impression after coming off the bench, came close to an equaliser.
Wimbledon paid the price for starting too slowly, handing the initiative to Accrington and in the end they did just enough to secure the 2-1 victory, despite late Dons pressure.
Neal Ardley made two changes to the 11 that started Wimbledon’s last league game against Scunthorpe United. James Hanson was recalled after injury with Kwesi Appiah missing out and goalkeeper Joe McDonnell got the nod to make his first league appearance of the season in place of Tom King.
Accrington made a high tempo start, which immediately put Wimbledon on the back foot, and McDonnell was required to make a fine save to stop Jordan Clark’s drive in the first minute. However, that was just a temporary reprieve and it was 1-0 less than four minutes later. Billy Kee, who was regularly a thorn in Wimbledon’s side during previous matches, was allowed time on the edge of the area to have a crack at goal. Kee didn’t need any second invitation to try his luck and he found the bottom corner with McDonnell just unable to keep it out.
Though Andy Barcham tested Connor Ripley shortly after Wimbledon fell behind, that did not signal a change in the pattern of this first-half. Dan Barlaser volleyed over the crossbar after getting on the end of a nice headed flick by Michael Ihiekwe. Wimbledon needed McDonnell to make a fine save to prevent Accrington doubling the advantage when he denied Kee, who had been set-up by McConville. The home pressure continued as we approached the 20-minute mark and McDonnell had to make a decent save with his legs to stop Nick Anderton’s shot from an acute angle. Wimbledon at least showed signs of life when Hanson and Pigott combined to almost put Barcham clean through, but he was just unable to reach the pass.
McDonnell had certainly been busy in the first half an hour and he also reacted well to stop McConville finding the back of the net. One of Wimbledon’s few good first-half moves followed and it ended with Barcham finding Pigott in space, but his shot was well saved by Ripley. Accrington threatened again five minutes before half-time when Clark had a shot blocked and McDonnell was able to gather the ball. Wimbledon ended the half by finally sustaining a bit of pressure and Accrington managed to just clear the ball after a goalmouth scramble. However, much better was required from Wimbledon in the second-half to get something from this game.
Neal Ardley made a half-time change with Scott Wagstaff introduced for Andy Barcham. The Dons did start the second-half with much more attacking intent and a chance followed just three minutes in when Liam Trotter had a close-range shot just saved by Ripley. Wimbledon came so close to an equaliser with 10 minutes of the second-half gone. Pigott found Hanson with a clever flick and he came so close to his first Wimbledon goal with a superb drive that just flashed over the crossbar. It was much better from the Dons and certainly an attack to offer encouragement for the rest of this game. However, Accrington struck a second goal on the hour, which came against the run of play in the second-half. Wimbledon gave away a corner through careless play at the back and worse was to follow. The subsequent flag kick was only half cleared, allowing another cross to come in. Though Tom Soares cleared, the ball fell to Sean McConville and there was a huge slice of fortune about the goal as his toe-poke took a wicked deflection and left McDonnell with no chance.
Despite suffering such misfortunate, Wimbledon’s players refused to feel sorry for themselves and it was game on four minutes later when Wagstaff reduced the arrears. After receiving a pass from Trotter, Wagstaff produced a fine run towards the box, before cutting inside and curling home a lovely strike into the top corner. It was a completely different game now and another substitute Jake Jervis, who came on for Mitch Pinnock, almost earned an equaliser with a low strike that Ripley did well to save. Jervis caused a lot of problems down the right after entering the fray and he showed lovely play to create space for a shot, but his shot was saved by the legs of Ripley, who then watched in relief as the subsequent cross from Jervis was diverted wide by Wagstaff.
Though Kee shot wide in the latter stages, Wimbledon came so close to an equaliser when Pigott’s acrobatic volley was cleared off the line in injury-time. However, Accrington just survived and it completed a difficult past week for Wimbledon.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Tennai Watson, Ben Purrington, Deji Oshilaja, Mitchell Pinnock (Jake Jervis), Liam Trotter, Andy Barcham (Scott Wagstaff), James Hanson, Tom Soares, Rod McDonald, Joe Pigott.
Pic credit: Simon Davies, Pro Sports Images.