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Match Reports

Dons defeated in final away trip

Report from Prenton Park

20 April 2024

Match Reports

Dons defeated in final away trip

Report from Prenton Park

20 April 2024

AFC Wimbledon’s faint hopes of making the play-offs were extinguished on Saturday as we lost 3-2 to Tranmere Rovers.

With the Dons required to win both their remaining games and other results being needed to fall in our favour elsewhere, it was always going to be a tall order.

We faced an even tougher uphill task, with two first-half goals putting Tranmere in control at the break. Substitute Josh Kelly had appeared to have sparked something of a resurgence as he halved the deficit with his first goal for the Club, however a red card for John-Joe O’Toole and a further goal from Connor Jennings more or less settled the outcome despite another strike from Kelly deep into stoppage time.  

It was a tough day for the Dons who will now be looking to finish with a flurry on home turf against Walsall this coming Saturday.

Johnnie Jackson made five changes to the side which faced Swindon Town as Nik Tzanev came in for his first league start of the season, along with Ryan McLean, John-Joe O’Toole, Ronan Curtis and Jack Currie – the latter two both making their returns from suspension and injury respectively.

This saw Alex Bass, Lee Brown, Kelly, Josh Neufville and Armani Little all drop out. Meanwhile there was a first senior inclusion on the bench for Academy goalkeeper Max Foulkes as Aron Sasu was also added to the roster in place of Isaac Ogundere.

It was a far from ideal start to the game for Wimbledon as we lost McLean to injury after barely a few minutes. Our winger appeared to collide with a pitchside barrier when fighting for the ball and following lengthy treatment, was replaced by Neufville.

Back to the action on the field of play and it was thanks to the superb defending of Ryan Johnson – sliding in with a last ditch challenge – that we didn’t find ourselves a goal behind inside the opening quarter.

Tzanev also showed great reflexes to keep out a low effort as the hosts continued to have the better of the chances in the first half an hour. It was a bright start that eventually paid off for Tranmere as they took the lead through Harvey Saunders, with the number 19 latching onto a ball through before firing in off the post.

It was 2-0 just before the break, as Rob Apter finished clinically after breaking into the area on the angle, leaving Wimbledon with plenty to do in the second-half.

Kelly was introduced in place of John-Kymani Gordon at the break as we sought to halve the deficit quickly. More good approach play by Neufville resulted in a presentable chance for Curtis on the edge of the box, but his shot was high over the crossbar.

We didn’t have to wait long to get on the scoresheet however as Kelly got us back into it in style. Omar Bugiel waited patiently before playing a lovely through ball that our number 10 took in his stride to fire low past the goalkeeper.

Things appeared to be looking up until disaster struck not long after, with O’Toole being shown a straight red card for what the referee adjudged to be a dangerous challenge.

Any chance of a comeback was quickly diffused not long after as Connor Jennings got in behind to smash home, giving Tzanev no chance. It was close to being four, with our goalkeeper being called into action to make a one-on-one stop as Tranmere broke through. Kelly did notch up his brace, sliding home almost on the goal line but it was too late.

All in all it was an afternoon to forget for the Dons as we came away from our final trip of the season empty handed.

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Jake Reeves, Kofi Balmer, Ryan Johnson, Ryan McLean (Josh Neufville) (Aron Sasu), Omar Bugiel, John-Joe O’Toole, Ronan Curtis, Jack Currie, Joe Lewis, John-Kymani Gordon (Josh Kelly)

PICS: Malcolm Bryce (Pro Sports Images)

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