A debut goal from Marcus Forss was not enough for Wimbledon to salvage a point today.
Milton Keynes Dons just held on for a 2-1 victory with Wimbledon failing to turn around a 2-0 half-time deficit. A fine header from Forss had provided hope, but in the end Wally’s men had left themselves with too much to do after a disappointing first-half display. A total of 560 travelling Wimbledon supporters watched their team just come up short and the search goes on for a first victory this season.
Wally Downes made two changes to the side that started our last league game versus Wycombe Wanderers. Joe McDonnell was given the nod to replace Nathan Trott, who was away on England Under-21 duty, and Ryan Delaney came straight in for his debut in place of Anthony Hartigan. That meant Will Nightingale reverted to a midfield role as part of a 3-5-2. McDonnell’s previous appearance at the venue was a positive one as he kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw in January 2018.
The home side came out of the traps with real attacking intent and the opening goal followed in the 10th minute. It was a very disappointing goal from a Wimbledon perspective, the hosts cutting right through the middle to strike the first. Conor McGrandles slipped a pass through that picked out Sam Nombe, who held off the challenge of Paul Kalambayi, before finishing clinically past McDonnell. Wimbledon responded by winning a couple of corners, but it proved difficult to conjure up a response against a well-drilled home defence.
By the midway point of the first-half, the goal had come from the only chance created so far. However, the hosts scored through their next meaningful chance and it was another goal scored through the middle. Though it was a good goal from the home side’s perspective with Rhys Healey showing fine skill and a nice low finish past McDonnell, it was a poor one to concede as he was allowed to stride through unchallenged. Wimbledon had an immediate chance to restore parity through Joe Pigott, but his header was straight into the arms of home goalkeeper Lee Nicholls. With Wimbledon starting to come into it, Pigott found space just outside the area and his well struck volley was just over the crossbar.
The best chance for Wimbledon came 10 minutes before half-time when a cross from Kalambayi was deflected into the path of Appiah, but his header was straight at Nicholls. Half-time came with Wimbledon still 2-0 down and facing a difficult task to get back into this game. The manager responded by making a double change at the break. Midfielder Max Sanders came on for his debut in place of Scott Wagstaff and Michael Folivi replaced Terell Thomas. Committing more men forward created chances for Wimbledon, but that clinical edge was proving to be elusive. Appiah had a goal-bound shot blocked, before Kalambayi had an acrobatic attempt cleared off the line after a Luke O’Neill free-kick had only been half cleared. Appiah also shot over from the subsequent corner.
With the hosts appearing to settle for what they had, it was up to Wimbledon to force a way back into the game. That so nearly came in the 67th minute when Appiah slipped a pass through for Folivi, but he was forced a little wide and Nicholls did well to save at his near post. Following that chance, it was proving difficult to fashion more chances as the hosts maintained a good defensive shape. With 12 minutes remaining, Marcus Forss was introduced for his debut in place of Appiah. That turned out to be pivotal with Forss having an immediate impact. Callum Reilly sent in a cross that picked out Forss and he made no mistake with a clinical header.
Wimbledon did put pressure on during the latter stages, but an equaliser just wouldn’t come. The closest Wimbledon came was when Kalambayi headed agonisingly wide during four minutes of injury-time.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Luke O’Neill, Will Nightingale, Terell Thomas (Michael Folivi), Scott Wagstaff (Max Sanders), Kwesi Appiah (Marcus Forss), Nesta Guinness-Walker, Ryan Delaney, Paul Kalambayi, Callum Reilly, Joe Pigott.