AFC Wimbledon are still searching for a first league victory this year after defeat against Burton Albion at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
The Dons failed to recover from the early setback of Jamie Allen’s opener for the visitors and David Templeton’s second-half strike secure a 2-0 victory that was comfortable for Burton in the end. Wimbledon had opened the match full of positivity, but that was quickly deflated by Burton’s first goal in the 13th minute and it was difficult for the hosts to find a way back into it after that.
Wally Downes selected an unchanged starting line-up after the slender defeat against promotion-chasers Sunderland last time out. Michael Folivi was included in the match day squad for the first time after joining on transfer deadline day from Watford on loan. The Dons came into this match seeking a first league victory in 2019 against a Burton Albion side occupying a mid-table slot after three successive league draws.
Wimbledon came out of the blocks quickly with Dylan Connolly leading the charge and vociferous home appeals for a penalty were turned down inside a minute. Irish winger Connolly’s superb drive down the right ended with a cross that definitely hit Burton full-back Jake Burton’s arm, but referee Andy Haines adjudged that it was not worthy of a penalty. Instead, it was only a corner to Wimbledon and Kwesi Appiah volleyed acrobatically over after the cross was only half cleared. At the other end, Burton’s first threat came when they found Scott Fraser in space just outside the area, but he blazed over the crossbar.
The Dons had a decent free-kick opportunity in the seventh minute when Scott Wagstaff was fouled just outside the box, but Appiah’s effort from 20 yards flashed wide of the near post. Just when Wimbledon were looking to build on that bright start, came the opening goal for Burton. A swift move on the break involving David Templeton and Marcus Harness ended with a chance for Jamie Allen, who made no mistake. It was a well-worked move, but from a Wimbledon perspective Allen was left with way too much space to pick his spot.
There was a setback for Wimbledon in the 17th minute when Appiah had to go off with an injury and he was replaced by Pigott, who had an opportunity to build on his impressive midweek hat-trick for the development squad. Wimbledon struggled to create clear-cut chances in the first-half, but there was a good opportunity for Will Nightingale midway through the half. Burton initially struggled to clear a well delivered corner by Mitch Pinnock and the ball fell nicely for Nightingale, but he was unable to get enough on his shot and Burton keeper Bradley Collins was able to gather the ball.
As the first-half came to a close Wimbledon forced more corner kicks, but without being able to make the most of them. First, Pinnock’s corner was met by Deji Oshilaja, but he headed well wide. Then Pinnock’s excellent cross from the right was delivered into a good area in the box, but no one was able to get on the end of it. However, more attacking thrust was required if Wimbledon were to get back into this game in the second-half.
With Wimbledon struggling to find a way back into the game, Wally Downes decided to make a change and it was a significant one too with forward Michael Folivi coming on for his debut in place of Anthony Wordsworth. However, Wimbledon’s task was made even more difficult when Burton doubled the advantage through David Templeton, who produced an impressive angled drive to beat Aaron Ramsdale after a fine move. In response, Deji Oshilaja rose highest to get on the end of a corner, but his header was over the crossbar. The 2-0 score-line perhaps reflected the way that this season has gone. Wimbledon had again been far from outplayed, but the difference had been down to superior finishing from Burton.
As we entered the last 20 minutes, Wimbledon were struggling to create anything meaningful against a stubborn Burton Albion defence, who were very well drilled on the day. Setting aside their mauling in the Carabao Cup at the hands of Premier League Champions Man City, Burton had not been conceding many goals of late and Wimbledon found it difficult to break them down. There was a setback for Wimbledon in the 83rd minute when Terell Thomas had to go off injured and he was replaced by Toby Sibbick. With Wimbledon finding it difficult to gather any attacking momentum, Burton cruised to victory in the end.
AFC Wimbledon: Aaron Ramsdale, Tennai Watson, Deji Oshilaja, Will Nightingale, Terell Thomas (Toby Sibbick), Scott Wagstaff, Kwesi Appiah (Joe Pigott), Mitch Pinnock, Steve Seddon, Dylan Connolly, Anthony Wordsworth (Michael Folivi).