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Match Reports

Late heartbreak for the Dons

Mark Bowen's side had earlier threatened to win it

2 April 2022

AFC Wimbledon were narrowly beaten at the death by Sheffield Wednesday in a match where the Dons could quite easily have walked away with the three points.

Mark Bowen's first match in charge was decided by the finest of margins, as football always is. Lee Gregory’s diving header in stoppage time put a dagger through Wimbledon hearts after we had passed up a chance to win it through Ayoub Assal.

The 2-1 victory for Wednesday was hardly deserved on the balance of play, with Bowen’s side showcasing the type of battling qualities that will be needed as we continue to fight for our League One survival.

A well-executed move involving Will Nightingale, Zach Robinson and Assal had earlier seen Wimbledon get back level with the Owls after Jack Hunt’s opener. On another day, we could have been sitting here celebrating what would’ve been a deserved point, or maybe more, as we showed what we are really capable of for long spells of the contest.

Admittedly, it is a blow that we could have done without but at the same time we were offered plenty of encouragement for what is to come from Bowen’s Wimbledon.

Our new manager opted for a three at the back formation with Dan Csoka coming into the defence, whilst the likes of George Marsh, Robinson and Assal all featured in the starting eleven.

This meant that the injured Sam Cosgrove dropped out, along with Lee Brown, Anthony Hartigan and Derick Osei Yaw.

Wimbledon largely kept Wednesday at arm’s length during the opening quarter, but it was the home side who took the lead. Barry Bannan was afforded half a yard of space on the near side of the area and was able to bend in a cross that was headed home at the far post by Hunt.

However, it didn’t take long for the Dons to get back on level terms and it was Robinson who played a key role in the move. A lovely, flighted ball over the top from Nightingale saw our academy graduate beat the offside trap before his cut-back was emphatically slammed into the roof of the net by the onrushing Assal.

Balls in behind the Owls’ backline were proving to be very effective for Bowen’s side, with the likes of Rudoni, Assal and Robinson often blindsiding the opposition with their movement.

Ben Heneghan was next to go close, with his headed effort being hacked clear off the line as we continued to build in confidence.

In the end, the rest of the first 45 minutes passed without incident as Wimbledon saw out a promising beginning to the game.

We began to come under pressure from the hosts during the opening 15 minutes of the half and our side certainly did well to batten down the hatches despite some nervy moments.

It was going to take a piece of magic or a mistake to decide this closely matched contest and as we headed into the final quarter it was arguably only one goal that would be needed to decide the victor.

Wimbledon almost had the moment they were waiting for when a quick break saw Rudoni, Assal and Osei Yaw come forward. The ball was eventually threaded through to Assal with only the onrushing Bailey Peacock-Farrell to beat, but the forward’s shot was straight at the Burnley loanee.

However, it was the hosts who stole all three points on this occasion, with a ball being directed across into the path of Gregory who headed home from close range and in the process crushed our hopes of taking something from the game.

For Wimbledon it is another blow that we have to bounce back from quickly, with two massive home matches on the horizon.

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Henry Lawrence, Dan Csoka, Alex Woodyard, Will Nightingale, George Marsh (Anthony Hartigan), Ayoub Assal (Dapo Mebude), Jack Rudoni, Zach Robinson (Derick Osei Yaw), Ben Heneghan, Paul Osew.


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