A spirited away display from the Dons just failed to earn a share of the spoils against promotion contenders Hull City tonight.
A headed goal by Keane Lewis-Potter in first-half injury-time secured a 1-0 win for a Hull side with hopes of bouncing back into the Championship at the first attempt. Wimbledon could take plenty from the performance in defeat after producing spells of bold attacking football and resilient defending against one of the major forces in League One.
Glyn Hodges made two changes to the side that started the narrow defeat against Shrewsbury. With Ethan Chislett ruled out due to concussion, Callum Reilly came back into the side, and Jack Rudoni came in to make his first league appearance of the season in place of Ryan Longman. Rudoni was deployed in support of lone frontman Joe Pigott, as Wimbledon attempted to make the most of numbers in midfield. It certainly worked early on with the Dons getting a fair share of possession and pressing Hull into mistakes.
It took until the 18th minute for Hull to muster a first attempt on goal with Josh Magennis meeting a cross, but his header was comfortably wide of the far post. Just a minute later, Wimbledon squandered a great chance to take the lead. Shane McLoughlin produced a lovely cross from the right that Joe Pigott flicked into the path of Rudoni, but he missed the target from close-range. As we approached the half hour mark, Wimbledon's gameplan had worked very effectively. Rudoni had offered a good link between midfield and attack and Hull had been limited to very little in terms of attacking threat.
There was a decent chance for Hull in the 35th minute when Jacob Greaves headed straight into the arms of Connal Trueman after another cross into the box. The hosts came close again shortly afterwards when former Sunderland midfielder George Honeyman tried his luck from just outside the area, but it was deflected wide. However, Wimbledon had a great chance to break the deadlock five minutes before the break. It came about through lovely hold-up play by Pigott, who found Luke O'Neill and his superb cross picked out Adam Woodyard, but his header was just wide.
It had been a very encouraging half for the Dons, but it was soured deep into first-half injury-time when Hull snatched the lead. A routine corner delivery was met by Greaves with a volley that Trueman saved brilliantly, but Keane Lewis-Potter had a simple task to nod home from close-range. That was a real shame from a Wimbledon perspective with the visitors having offered a combination of good attacking play and steely defending.
Wimbledon's start to the second-half showed plenty of conviction to build on that first-half promise. A very good first 15 minutes after the break included a shot from an acute angle by Callum Reilly with Hull keeper Matt Ingram forced to parry away from danger. Then Steve Seddon delivered a lovely cross from the left that picked out Shane McLoughlin, but his header flashed wide. At the other end, there was a good chance for the hosts when Reece Burke did well to meet a corner, but his header was directed just off target from close-range.
Glyn Hodges made a double change just before the hour with Ryan Longman and Anthony Hartigan introduced for Rudoni and Jaakko Oksanen. Wimbledon continued to drive forward and one barnstorming run down the right by McLoughlin when he defied the odds to keep the ball in play summed up the spirit and endeavour. Chances were proving difficult to create in the second-half though. Pigott twice had goal-bound shots blocked, as Hull defended stoutly, before Seddon just failed to reach a cross into the box by O'Neill. The Dons had plenty of possession in the second-half, but Hull showed the resolution that had earned narrow home wins in their previous home games this season.
The final whistle signalled a gallant loss for the Dons against a side who are likely to be competing for promotion come the end of the season. Certainly, it was a performance that offers plenty of confidence for another away match on Saturday with a trip to Burton Albion up next.
AFC Wimbledon: Connal Trueman, Luke O'Neill, Dan Csoka, Alex Woodyard, Terell Thomas, Jack Rudoni (Ryan Longman), Jaakko Oksanen (Anthony Hartigan), Shane McLoughlin, Callum Reilly, Joe Pigott, Steve Seddon.