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Match Reports

Battling Dons fall to harsh defeat

Ben Heneghan came so close to giving us the lead before Ipswich seized the initiative

25 January 2022

A youthful Wimbledon side fell to a harsh 2-0 defeat with two breakaway Ipswich goals proving the difference between the two sides.

The discipline and structured foundations of another strong performance were on show for all to see from Robbo’s boys as they fought until the end against one of League One’s highest spenders in difficult circumstances, key men Alex Woodyard and Will Nightingale both sidelined.

It was a gutsy display and many amongst the 8117 crowd will have come away from the game feeling that they had seen a side which is brimming with undoubted potential despite the defeat.  

Robbo’s call to arms via social media had certainly rung true on Tuesday night as the Wimbledon faithful packed themselves into the blue and yellow coated stands, with ‘the Dons have got super Robbo’ ringing out throughout the game.

In the end though it was a double from Wes Burns that downed the valiant Dons on a night in which they showed the Wimbledon spirit that our club is built on.

Robbo rang the changes for this clash under the floodlights with the likes of Aaron Cosgrave, Ethan Chislett, Nesta Guinness-Walker, Dan Csoka and Ayoub Assal coming into the starting line up in place of - the now departed - Ollie Palmer, Woodyard, Cheye Alexander, Nightingale and Dapo Mebude.

There was a familiar face on the Ipswich bench as Joe Pigott made his first return to the Cherry Red Records Stadium since departing the Dons last summer after scoring 54 goals in 157 games.

On the field our young side started strongly and were quickly out of the traps, pressing high and snapping away at our opponents’ heels at every given opportunity – making life as uncomfortable as possible for the possession hungry visitors.

Maintaining a solid and compact shape against the play-off chasing Tractor Boys was a must if any sort of result was to be achieved. The Dons certainly made it difficult for their opponents to pick the lock as two walls of blue held firm when the ball was lost, with Cosgrave running his socks off as the lone striker.

It made for a tight and tense opening 45 minutes with Ipswich being kept at bay by the disciplined Dons, who showed in flickers that they had the pace and drive to trouble what was an experienced back three.

Being relentless is part of this team’s DNA, it’s written on one of the boards at the training ground and it is a term that is spoken about consistently. Therefore, the mission moving into the second half was clear – stick to your principles and the results will come.

Luke McCormick is certainly someone who embodies those principles and he was quick to attempt to force the issue as he drove forward, bypassing opposing players at will before being hacked to the floor. It was a sign of things to come as the crowd began to get geed-up again after half-time.

The deadlock was close to being broken some 52 minutes into the contest with Ben Heneghan being the unlikely recipient of a well delivered corner – the centre back’s effort kissing the inside of the post before being sliced away by the Ipswich backline.

However, if Wimbledon’s luck was out, Ipswich’s certainly wasn’t, and it was the visitors who broke the deadlock with a quick counter-attack that was finished off well by the onrushing Burns after he was played into space on the right-hand side.

Tough to take for the young Dons maybe, but they were quickly brought back from the setback by the fans in the South London Movers End who immediately broke back into song to urge the boys on.

Substitute Terry Ablade was next to be denied for the home side, charging in after a ball had been elegantly chipped over the top, but he was quickly met by the imposing Christian Walton who blocked well.

A lovely Cruyff turn from Paul Osew was the type of flair that was needed, and the atmosphere was beginning to build again at the Cherry Red Records Stadium as the Dons pushed hard for an equaliser.

Then came the hammer blow that Ipswich had threatened at stages in the second period as another quick breakaway down the right-hand side led to another strike from Burns, who fired home emphatically after being slipped in.  

It was harsh on the Dons, and it came at a time when the momentum appeared to be building. Ipswich’s Kane Vincent-Young saw himself receive a second booking in stoppage time, but it mattered little as the visitors walked away with a fortunate 2-0 win.

For Wimbledon, it was back to the drawing board after another promising home performance that ultimately saw our side come up short when on another night their efforts would have been rewarded with a return of points.

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Dan Csoka, George Marsh, Ayoub Assal, Ethan Chislett (Anthony Hartigan), Jack Rudoni, Nesta Guinness-Walker, Luke McCormick (Dapo Mebude), Ben Heneghan, Paul Osew, Aaron Cosgrave (Terry Ablade).

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