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Dons well beaten at Bolton

A heavy defeat for Wimbledon

19 February 2022

AFC Wimbledon were clinically put to the sword by Bolton Wanderers today as our young side fell to a 4-0 defeat.

Wanderers ultimately proved to be far too strong for Mark Robinson’s men on a day to forget up north for the Dons, who now need to get their mojo back as the battle for important points continues. 

All of the hard work that had gone into earning an impressive point against Sunderland last weekend now seems a distant memory as our side struggled to hit their stride against a Bolton team that were ruthless in front of goal. 

Admittedly the absence of some players didn’t help the Dons, but at the same time many of the men in yellow and blue that took to the field will have to hold their hands up after that one and admit that we must do better collectively.

However, there is no time to lull in self pity with the games coming thick and fast and now we must summon up the spirit that we showed earlier in the campaign to finish the season strongly. 

Robbo was forced into several changes for this game, with a combination of suspensions and injuries leading to a change of approach. Dapo Mebude, Nesta Guinness-Walker, Paul Kalambayi and Tomas came into the team in place of Ayoub Assal, Jack Rudoni, Luke McCormick and Will Nightingale.

Meanwhile, Wimbledon academy graduate Morgan Williams was named on the bench for the first time since breaking through into the senior squad, replacing the injured Anthony Hartigan. These adjustments to the team meant that the Dons lined up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with Mebude and Tomas adding extra pace on the flanks, whilst Guinness-Walker slotted into the midfield three.

The last game between these two sides was an absolute cracker of a 3-3 draw on our Plough Lane homecoming back in August last year and both sets of fans were hoping for more of the same as they packed into the University of Bolton Stadium.

There were certainly some hairy moments for Wimbledon over the course of the first half an hour, but our pressing game and organisation through the thirds shone through as we largely kept Wanderers at bay.

Alas, it wasn’t to be enough as the hosts took a deserved lead, with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson rising highest to head home from an Aaron Morley corner. A disappointing setback for the Dons, who now had to come from behind as the two sides headed in at half-time.

Despite having the break to regroup and come out fighting, the advantage was doubled inside the first 15 minutes of the second period as a flicked pass through ended with Dapo Afolayan rounding Nik Tzanev, before finishing into the empty net.

It was another cheap goal to give away at a time when the Dons were looking to build some momentum. Things then got even worse as Bolton were gifted another goal. A ball broke through to Dion Charles, who sprinted clear before finishing calmly into the corner past Tzanev.

It was a goal that knocked a lot of the confidence out of the boys and in the end it proved decisive as Bolton saw out their victory with the minimum of fuss - Amadou Bakayoko adding a fourth three minutes from time.

Wimbledon were taught a harsh lesson by one of the division’s form sides today and simply must bounce back with crucial games to come against Gillingham and Doncaster Rovers next week.

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, George Marsh, Sam Cosgrove (Terry Ablade), Ethan Chislett (Aaron Cosgrave), Dapo Mebude, Nesta Guinness-Walker, Ben Heneghan, Paul Kalambayi, Paul Osew, Tomas (Will Nightingale), Lee Brown.

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