Promotion contenders Charlton eventually proved too strong for Wimbledon today after the Dons had earned a half-time 2-1 lead.
The 5-2 score-line was perhaps harsh on Wimbledon after contributing so much to this game, particularly during a bold end to the first half after Joe Pigott’s stunning goal against his former club. However, the hosts punished slack defending from Wimbledon in the second-half, as Glyn’s boys were made to pay for errors at the back, just a week after conceding four against Bristol Rovers.
Wimbledon made three changes from the side that started the last league game against Bristol Rovers. Both wing backs were changed with Shane McLoughlin and Steve Seddon returning in place of Cheye Alexander and Nesta Guinness-Walker. Terell Thomas was recalled at the heart of defence with Will Nightingale having to settle for a place on the bench. The Dons came into this match having shown good form on the road this season with 12 points picked up and just two defeats. A sign of the tough task facing Glyn’s boys was that Charlton only missed out on moving up to third in the table after conceding an injury-time equaliser at Shrewsbury.
Charlton came out of the blocks quickly with Wimbledon forced onto the back foot. The first goal attempt was by Ian Maatsen, who shot just wide of the target after a good Charlton move. With former Peterborough attacker Marcus Maddison attempting to cause problems at every opportunity, Wimbledon had to stay strong at the back. With 20 minutes on the clock, Connal Trueman gathered a shot by Maddison at the second attempt. At the other end, a quick break ended with Shane McLoughlin producing a lovely cross to pick out Joe Pigott and he beat Ben Amos with his shot, but Chris Gunter did very well to clear off the line.
As we approached the half hour mark, there had been a clear pattern to this game as Charlton committed men forward in search of an opener, but Wimbledon showed plenty of promise on the break. With 2,000 fans cheering them on, Charlton’s players were eager to put on a show for the home faithful. However, the Dons came close to spoiling matters for the home supporters when McLoughlin showed fine vision to pick out Pigott in the box, but his well struck shot was saved by Amos.
The save by Amos turned out to be of real importance to the hosts as they marched into the lead in the 37th minute. The ball was worked out to the Charlton left flank with Conor Washington found in space and he needed no second invitation to cut inside, before unleashing a cracking strike into the far corner. It was a lovely finish, but from a Wimbledon perspective it was disappointing that he was allowed time and space in the box to get his shot away.
Far from feeling sorry for themselves, the Dons responded well, and Pigott delivered an equaliser of real quality in the 41st minute. There appeared to be little danger when Pigott took possession of the ball 25 yards out, but the in-form striker produced a sweet strike into the top corner, leaving Amos with absolutely no chance. All of a sudden, the pendulum had swung Wimbledon’s way, and Jack Rudoni came close to putting the Dons in front, but his shot was well saved by Amos. However, there was no reprieve for the hosts in first-half injury-time. Alex Woodyard swung in a sublime cross from the left and Dan Csoka rose highest to head home emphatically.
What a turnaround in this game just before the break, and Wimbledon had shown plenty of spirit and determination to take the initiative after a difficult start at the Valley. The second-half started with Charlton attempting to regain supremacy and Connal Trueman was required to make a fine stop to turn away a fierce strike from Ben Watson. With the home fans raising the decibel levels in an effort to boost their team, Wimbledon were forced deep again. There was a good chance to counter when Woodyard powered forward towards the edge of the Charlton area and he picked out Steve Seddon inside the box on the left, but his cross was blocked.
With Wimbledon having coped well with Charlton pressure at the start of the second-half, it was something of a surprise when the hosts equalised. Chuks Aneke was the instigator as he did very well to get in a shot from an acute angle on the right and though Trueman saved it, Jake Forster-Caskey was in the right place to steer home from close-range. That goal came in the 64th minute – and it took less than a minute more for Charlton to take the lead. Again, it all came down Wimbledon’s left side as the ball was cut back for Jonny Williams, who produced a smart finish to beat Trueman.
The Dons attempted to hit back after that quick double blow and McLoughlin, who was lively throughout, found space at the back post and appeared to be fouled in the box, but only a corner was awarded. Alex Woodyard produced an impressive display in the centre of the park and he continued to drive his side forward, but Wimbledon’s task was made harder in the 85th minute. Charlton substitute Chuks Aneke dispossessed Ben Heneghan, before striking a powerful effort that Trueman was unable to keep out. Charlton rubbed salt into the wounds by making it five in injury-time with former Dons loanee Ben Purrington striking home from an acute angle.
AFC Wimbledon: Connal Trueman, Daniel Csoka, (Ollie Palmer), Alex Woodyard, Terell Thomas (Will Nightingale), Anthony Hartigan (Ethan Chislett), Jack Rudoni (Callum Reilly), Shane McLoughlin, Ben Heneghan, Ryan Longman, Joe Pigott, Steve Seddon.