AFC Wimbledon earned a first home league win this year with second-half goals from Steve Seddon and Shane McLoughlin keeping survival hopes alive.
A brilliant goal from Seddon paved the way to victory for The Dons, that breakthrough coming after Doncaster had been reduced to 10 men with John Marquis sent off. The 2-0 win was hard-earned with Wimbledon having defended resolutely in the first-half to deny promotion-chasers Doncaster, before taking the chances when they came in the second-half.
Despite having players back from injury, Wally Downes decided to pick an unchanged starting line-up after the draw at Shrewsbury. Dylan Connolly was back fit-again to offer another potential option from the bench and so too was James Hanson. The Dons came into this game seeking a long overdue home win against a Doncaster side chasing a play-off place, though they had gone four games without a win.
There was an early scare for Wimbledon in the sixth minute when a back-pass from Terell Thomas was a little short and Dons keeper Aaron Ramsdale’s clearance bounced off Doncaster striker John Marquis, but out for a goal kick. At the other end, Wimbledon had the best chance so far in the 10th minute when Anthony Wordsworth’s well delivered corner was met by Paul Kalambayi, but his header was just wide of the far post. Doncaster had the majority of possession early on, but a quick Wimbledon break in the 20th minute ended with a shot by Toby Sibbick from an acute angle that Doncaster keeper Marko Marosi managed to palm away from danger. That nearly opened up the door at the other end as Marquis broke swiftly to find Mallik Wilks in space on the right, but he was unable to find his team-mate in the box.
Doncaster had shown their danger in the first 20 minutes and there was a nervy moment for Wimbledon when James Coppinger found space on the back post, but his pass across the face of goal was scrambled away. However, Wimbledon improved as the half wore on, earning more possession and therefore chances. A real positive move came in the 28th minute when lovely footwork by Michael Folivi created space 35 yards out and his pass found Sibbick in the area, but his shot from an acute angle flashed into the side netting. Doncaster’s best chance of the first-half came in the 35th minute when a free-kick was headed back for Marquis to reach first at the back post, but his header bounced off the top of the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
As we approached half-time, Doncaster threatened to break the deadlock through Marquis. The forward provided a constant threat for the visitors and he looked to go through on goal minutes before the break, but Kalambayi got back superbly to stop him with a well-timed last-ditch tackle. The Dons had defended really well to stop Doncaster in the first-half, but more cutting edge was required in attack to get an important three points.
The second-half opened with Wimbledon on the front foot and Folivi shot over the crossbar after creating good space for himself. However, Wimbledon needed superb goalkeeping from Ramsdale to stay on level terms when he made a wonderful finger-tip save to deny Herbie Kane. Then came a decisive incident in this match when Marquis impeded Ramsdale and the referee deemed that it was worthy of a second yellow card. That offered a golden opportunity for Wimbledon to make the most of numerical superiority and Seddon was intent on doing that as he stormed forward at every opportunity. Fine play from Seddon on the left set-up a half chance for Anthony Wordsworth, but his header was too high.
As we approached the hour mark, Wimbledon started to really turn up the heat on Doncaster, making the most of the extra man. Anthony Hartigan’s free-kick was headed on by Seddon, who was now playing like a left winger, into the path of Folivi, but he headed over the crossbar. Wally Downes decided to make a double change just after the hour with Andy Barcham and Shane McLoughlin entering the fray for Scott Wagstaff and Toby Sibbick. Bearing in mind how much this game had turned, it was no surprise when Wimbledon broke the deadlock in the 67th minute. It was a goal well worth waiting for too. Pigott showed good awareness to find Seddon in space on the left and he drilled a rocket of a shot past Doncaster keeper Marosi, who was left with no chance.
After taking the lead, Wimbledon had chances to kill the game off. Wordsworth headed just over after a good cross from Folivi, but an even better opportunity was squandered with 13 minutes to play. Wordsworth returned the favour by finding Folivi in the area, but his first touch was not good enough on this occasion and Marosi grasped the ball gratefully. However, it was a nervy finale as the 10 men of Doncaster poured forward to try and snatch a late equaliser. Ramsdale made another fine stop to deny Coppinger and the rebound was headed over. There was also a goalmouth scramble when Ramsdale just managed to gather the ball, to the relief of most of the 4, 203 spectators. In a frantic finale, Terell Thomas cleared off the line to stop Doncaster earning a late equaliser, but The Dons sealed all three points in injury-time. Substitute James Hanson picked out Folivi and though his shot was saved, fellow substitute Shane McLoughlin followed up and drilled home emphatically. Just maybe, this could be the start of a great escape for Wimbledon!
AFC Wimbledon: Aaron Ramsdale, Will Nightingale, Terell Thomas, Scott Wagstaff (Andy Barcham), Anthony Hartigan, Steve Seddon, Toby Sibbick (Shane McLoughlin), Paul Kalambayi, Joe Pigott (Jame Hanson), Anthony Wordsworth, Michael Folivi.