AFC Wimbledon suffered late heartbreak tonight with an injury-time winner from Kayden Jackson securing all three points for Ipswich Town.
Wimbledon had threatened to win it through a first-half goal from Nesta Guinness-Walker, but late goals from James Norwood and Jackson earned a 2-1 win for the hosts at Portman Road.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the 667 travelling Dons fans that provided brilliant support on the night. Certainly, it was a very good Wimbledon away display for the majority of this match, before Wally's boys paid the ultimate price for late defensive lapses.
Wally Downes made just one change to his starting line-up and it involved a recall for Kwesi Appiah, who replaced Joe Pigott in the starting line-up. The Dons were aiming for a first victory this season after just coming up short of that target against Accrington Stanley on Saturday. Ipswich had brought in Spurs winger Anthony Georgiou on the eve of this game, but he had to settle for a place on the bench.
The Dons started with a 4-4-2 formation at Portman Road. Nesta Guinness-Walker was pushed forward to left midfield with Rod McDonald reverting to left-back. The hosts pushed forward from the outset, but Wimbledon looked very organised at the back and defended resolutely. Indeed, the first time you could hear the home fans raise the decibel levels came midway through the half when James Norwood raced through the middle onto a through ball, but he was ruled offside. At the other end, Michael Folivi looked sharp in attack and he almost got in on goal, but he was just stopped in his tracks by an Ipswich defender.
Wimbledon had offered little as an attacking force in the first half hour. Rod McDonald shot over from distance and good approach play came to nothing, but it was the same at the other end really. It took until the 35th minute for the hosts to threaten. That came when Cole Skuse was first to reach a corner, but his effort was well gathered by Nathan Trott. The on-loan West Ham keeper made an even better save a minute later. Andre Dozzell sent through a wonderful defence-splitting pass to pick out Norwood running through the middle, but Trott spread himself well to get an outstretched arm to the striker’s deft chip.
Trott’s superb goalkeeping meant even more in the 41st minute when Wimbledon snatched the lead in fine style. Folivi showed good composure to hold off Ipswich defenders, before picking out Guinness-Walker on the left and he produced a fantastic angled strike that arrowed into the top corner, leaving Ipswich keeper Tomas Holy with no chance. Wimbledon held the lead until half-time and it had been an impressive away performance so far from Wally’s boys. Ipswich had been restricted to very little and Wimbledon had been clinical at the other end when it mattered.
Far from settling for just the one, Wimbledon pushed on at the start of the second-half and had opportunities to double the advantage. Guinness-Walker continued to take the game to Ipswich and his cross picked out Folivi in the box, but he was just unable to divert the ball towards goal. Then Anthony Hartigan sent over a great cross that Paul Kalambayi got on the end of, but his header was just over the crossbar.
After a fine start to the second-half by Wimbledon, pressure from the hosts started to build before the hour mark. Flynn Downes tried his luck from just outside the area, but his shot flashed over the crossbar. Then a dangerous cross from the left was diverted towards his own goal by Paul Kalambayi, but Nathan Trott stayed alert to gather at his near post. Downes again shot over as Ipswich built up attacking momentum and Wimbledon retreated deeper. Norwood found space on the right and sent over a cross that no one was able to get on the end of when it needed just a touch.
Wally Downes made his first change with 19 minutes to play with Mitch Pinnock replacing Michael Folivi. The on-loan Watford striker had produced a tireless shift up front and claimed the assist for Wimbledon, setting up Guinness-Walker superbly. His exit was deservedly applauded by the travelling Dons contingent. Kwesi Appiah had also pulled his weight up front, in tandem with Folivi, as Wimbledon offered moments of fleeting danger.
Ipswich pressure steadily increased as we approached the last 10 minutes and the home faithful were celebrating the equaliser in the 81st minute. A corner was swung in from the left to the back post and James Norwood headed home. Considering how well Wimbledon had defended throughout, it was a disappointing goal to concede from a set-piece.
It appeared that Wimbledon had done enough to earn a creditable point, but a ball was launched through and Jackson latched onto it to strike home the winner, The Dons paying the price for failing to deal with a routine ball through the middle.
AFC Wimbledon: Nathan Trott, Luke O’Neill, Rod McDonald, Terell Thomas, Scott Wagstaff, Anthony Hartigan, Kwesi Appiah (Joe Pigott), Michael Folivi (Mitch Pinnock), Nesta Guinness-Walker, Paul Kalambayi, Callum Reilly.
Pic credit: Nigel Keene, Pro Sports Images.