AFC Wimbledon Work Hard But Are Unable To Dent Rotherham's Promotion Charge

Rotherham 2 v AFC Wimbledon 0

AFC Wimbledon huffed and puffed but couldn’t make an impact against in-form Rotherham United as the Yorkshire side extended their unbeaten run to 10 matches, winning 2-0 on Saturday (3 February).

The home side started in rampant form as they sought to score for a 24th match in succession and laid siege to the Wimbledon goal. The Dons were hanging on by their fingernails following one corner which they struggled to clear, with Darius Charles’ clearance with Richard Wood poised to convert followed by a scramble that saw Liam Trotter and George Long combine to smuggle the ball behind for another corner.

There was a growing sense of the inevitable and it came to pass just shy of quarter of an hour into the match. George Francomb’s clearance fell to Joe Newell and he dinked outside Tom Soares before delivering a wedge pass to the far post where former Dons loanee Michael Smith sneaked in to convert and put the home side 1-0 ahead.

As so often happens when a team scores, Rotherham eased off the pressure and Wimbledon started coming into it, albeit without creating any clear-cut chances of their own. Indeed, despite their continual buzzing for the remainder of the match, Wimbledon managed just one effort on target throughout the 90 minutes.

And it was the home side who went closest to scoring in the first half, with Newell firing one long-range effort narrowly over the bar and David Ball just failing to curl one effort inside the far post.

The closest Wimbledon came was when Trotter’s shot that was wildly off target was blocked and fell to Lyle Taylor, whose shot across the face of goal was cleared.

Long was in action again early in the second period, palming behind Will Vaulks’ effort after the Rotherham man completely lost his marker at a well-worked free-kick, and the Dons had another let-off moments later. Newell cantered down the left before delivering a low cross that Paul Robinson sliced straight to Rotherham debutant Matt Palmer. But with the goal at his mercy, Palmer stabbed the ball inches wide.

There was another chance when substitute Jon Taylor drew a gaggle of Wimbledon players towards him before sliding the ball through to Newell, whose snap shot was narrowly off target.

Wimbledon were seeing enough of the ball in a scrappy encounter to give the home supporters some consternation, but the closest the Dons came was in the dying moments when substitute Harry Forrester failed to connect properly with a volley and Marek Rodák was able to gather.

With the clock ticking down, Rotherham delivered the coup de grâce. Ryan Williams delivered a shot from towards the corner of the box that Long palmed out but it fell kindly for Ball who had reacted quicker than Charles to convert from close range.

Wimbledon now face two vitally important matches against fellow relegation strugglers. Weather permitting, on Tuesday (6 February) they travel to bottom-of-the-table Bury before following that up with a home encounter against Northampton Town on Saturday 10 February.

Rotherham: Rodák, Emmanuel, Ajayi, Wood, Mattock, Forde (Taylor 68), Palmer, Vaulks, Newell (R. Williams 84), Smith (Lavery 67), Ball. Subs not used: Price, Ihiekwe, Yates, Cummings.

Goalscorers: Smith 14, Ball 92.

Wimbledon: Long, Oshilaja, Robinson (Meades 74), Charles, Francomb, Trotter, Abdou, Soares (Pigott 63), Barcham, Taylor, McDonald (Forrester 63). Subs not used: Kaja, Kennedy, McDonnell, Hartigan.

Booked: Soares 28.

Att: 8,330.

By Rob Crane

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February 4, 2018