AFC Wimbledon's resilient display on the road produced no reward tonight with an injury-time winner from Liam Walsh securing victory for Coventry City.
The Dons had looked set to earn a point against the league leaders, but Walsh struck in time added on to defeat Wimbledon. Marcus Forss had given Wimbledon the lead in the first-half, but Coventry eventually turned it around to triumph 2-1.
Wally Downes made just one change to his starting line-up after the draw versus Shrewsbury on Saturday with Michael Folivi preferred up front to Joe Pigott. Wimbledon enjoyed the perfect start by earning a penalty in just the eighth minute when Michael Folivi was hacked down in the penalty area. Marcus Forss stepped up and converted confidently to give Wimbledon the lead. There was an immediate chance for Coventry to strike back, but Nathan Trott pulled off a fine save with his feet.
Far from sitting on the 1-0 lead, Wimbledon had chances to double the advantage. Scott Wagstaff powered through and struck a shot that was deflected onto a post and wide. The Dons had an even better chance shortly afterwards when Nesta Guinness-Walker delivered a lovely ball from the left into the box that picked out Folivi in space, but he headed high and wide with the goal gaping. At this stage, Wimbledon were well in control, making light of the points gap between the two teams. Folivi and Forss were providing a good partnership in attack with their pace and movement causing problems for the hosts.
Coventry had failed to find the attacking fluency that had marched them up to the top of the table, but they were level in the 20th minute. With Wimbledon on the attack, a quick break ended with Coventry having men over on their left and the ball was worked quickly to Jordy Hiwula, who rounded Nathan Trott, before finishing clinically. That was the signal for a swift change to the flow of this game as Coventry now poured forward at every opportunity. Hiwula had an opportunity to put Coventry 2-1 up, but he shot wide from close-range. Trott was also required to make a fine save to stop Callum O’Hare from giving the home side the lead.
It had certainly been an encouraging first-half for Wimbledon and Forss did well to charge down a clearance by Marko Marosi, but the Coventry keeper was fortunate that the ball rebounded to safety. A 1-1 half-time score would probably have been looked upon as a real positive if any Wimbledon fan had been offered this scenario before the game, but there was a sense that it was a missed opportunity.
Unsurprisingly for a team occupying top spot heading into this match, Coventry upped the tempo at the start of the second-half and Wimbledon were forced back. Trott made a fine save at the start of the second-half, but the flag was up for offside. Wally Downes made his first change in the 53rd minute. Forss made a late challenge just a minute earlier and as he was already on a yellow card, the manager deemed that it was the right time to replace him. Adam Roscrow was the man who took his place him up front.
After soaking up Coventry pressure, Wimbledon had a decent spell midway through the second-half. Anthony Hartigan started to see a bit more of the ball in the centre of the park and a decent chance followed. A corner was swept in by Hartigan and it found Paul Kalambayi at the back post, but he headed over the crossbar. With 15 minutes to go, Wally Downes made a bold double change. Kwesi Appiah and Joe Pigott were both sent on with Michael Folivi and Paul Kalambayi making way.
The Dons had promising situations to win it, without making the most of the opportunities, particularly from set pieces. Pigott also produced a superb run down the left and put in a decent cross to match, but no one was able to get on the end of it. A sign of a very resilient display on the road from Wimbledon was that Coventry appeared to have been well and truly tamed, the hosts barely threatening in the latter stages. However, there was a late sting in the tail as Coventry found space on the right and the ball was worked in space to Walsh and he made no mistake from close-range.
AFC Wimbledon: Nathan Trott, Luke O’Neill, Will Nightingale, Scott Wagstaff, Anthony Hartigan, Marcus Forss (Adam Roscrow), Michael Folivi (Kwesi Appiah), Nesta Guinness-Walker, Ryan Delaney, Paul Kalambayi (Joe Pigott), Callum Reilly.
Pic credit: Simon Davies, Pro Sports Images.