Dons Fall Short Against League Leaders

Chesterfield 2 v Wimbledon 0

Wimbledon came up short as they lost 2-0 at league leaders Chesterfield on Saturday (14 September), but manager Neal Ardley is insisting that they can learn from the experience.

The Dons have had a good start to the season and were themselves in third place going into this trip to the table toppers, but ended up losing out to a goal in each half.

Ardley told the club’s official website that the game ‘gives us a clear idea of where we are and that is the important thing for us to take from the game’.

‘I think we have seen what the benchmark is today,’ he said. ‘They have a very good team and it showed that we are short in certain areas and need to raise our game.

‘I have challenged the players by saying to them that next time we have to ensure that there is not as much of a gap between the two sides.’

The Dons weathered a strong start from the home side, looking to record their sixth win in seven league games, and were grateful when the hosts were denied an early goal by the offside flag as Marc Richards converted Ritchie Humphreys’ cross.

Goalkeeper Ross Worner had to be alert to save a strong drive from Jimmy Ryan and Jay O’Shea also shot wide as Chesterfield continued to press from the off.

But the Dons went close to taking the lead after 18 minutes when Jim Fenlon and Luke Moore combined to set up Michael Smith, the Charlton loanee forcing a smart save from Chesterfield keeper Tommy Lee.

And Smith had another excellent opportunity just before the half hour as he capitalised on a defensive lapse to charge clear only to see Lee again thwart him, pulling off a double save.

But just as the Dons were getting into the game they went behind. Fenlon was unlucky to see his attempted clearance bounce back and release O’Shea down the right, and his cross was converted by Gary Roberts to put the league leaders 1-0 up.

Wimbledon responded strongly to that setback but were fortunately not to go 2-0 down shortly after the break when Tendayi Darikwa broke down the right and crossed to the unmarked Roberts who contrived to head over.

There was no reprieve for the Dons  in the 53rd minute when, following a free-kick awarded for handball by Luke Moore, Roberts crossed and Sam Hird converted to make it 2-0.

Soon afterwards Richards hit the woodwork and Humphreys also shot wide as the home side continued to press.

But following a double substitution the Dons started to come back into it, with Fenlon forcing a save from Lee after an impressive run, and then Jack Midson seeing his header cleared off the line.

Next it was George Francomb who forced the best out of the home keeper after going clean through, and when Lee was beaten it was late sub Charlie Strutton also saw his effort cleared off the line.

Ardley will be hoping that the Dons can raise the bar further when they entertain high-flying Burton Albion at Kingsmeadow next Saturday (21 September).

Chesterfield: Lee, Talbot, Hird, Cooper, Humphreys, Ryan, Morsy, Darikwa (McSheffrey 77), Roberts, O’Shea (Gnanduillet 87), Richards (Doyle 72). Subs not used: Togwell, Chapman, Evatt, Edwards.

Goalscorers: Roberts 30, Hird 53.

Booked: Gnanduillet 90.

Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Frampton, Bennett, Fenlon, Francomb (Strutton 79), S. Moore, Pell, Porter (Arthur 63), Smith, L. Moore (Midson 63). Subs not used: Kennedy, Sweeney, Brown, Weston.

Booked: Bennett 76, Pell 90.

Attendance: 6,353

By Rob Crane

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September 15, 2013