AFC Wimbledon Slump To Southend Defeat As Pressure Grows

Southend 1 v AFC Wimbledon 0

AFC Wimbledon’s inability to score came back to haunt them as they lost 1-0 at Southend United on Tuesday (26 September).

The Dons’ record throughout 2017 is diabolical and they rounded off last season with a goalless streak running to several games. But if anything it has got even worse this season as they have now scored just five goals in 10 league matches – and two of them came in one match.

The failure to recruit a target man during the summer transfer activity has left the team looking even more one-dimensional, and boss Neal Ardley’s attempt to see the positive from this latest setback will have left many Dons fans scratching their head, given that potent threat Lyle Taylor again spent much of the game anywhere except up front.

‘The performance was very good and the game plan was carried out very well,’ he insisted on the club’s iFollow Dons channel. ‘We have to just keep going and it will turn for us. Goals will create confidence and we just have to keep doing the right things.’

Just how patient Wimbledon fans have to be after months of enduring the drudgery of lethargic performances remains to be seen, but they did at least again see their team create some openings during this match, even if converting them still seems to be a step too far.

In the first period, the most significant chances for the Dons came when Will Nightingale headed fractionally over from a Dean Parrett free-kick, Tom Soares had a shot deflected onto the post, and George Francomb’s long-range effort from a partially cleared Parrett corner was saved by goalkeeper Mark Oxley

The closest the home side came in the opening period was late on, when Josh Wright shot narrowly off-target following a run to the edge of the box.

But they took the lead in fortuitous circumstances on the hour mark. Jason Demetriou cut inside Francomb – who was again filling in at left-back – and delivered a powerful near-post cross that deceived George Long, who palmed it into the back of his own net. It was a rare mistake by the on-loan Sheffield United goalkeeper who has otherwise been the big plus-point of a disappointing season so far.

Even then the Dons could have got back into it moments later as they had a goal ruled out. The Southend defence only partially cleared a dinked-in Francomb cross and it fell to Parrett who converted from the edge of the area, but the referee adjudged that Parrett’s control of the ball with his upper arm was enough to qualify as handball.

The home side also nestled the ball in the back of the net only for it not to count, as Wright rounded Long but was ruled to have been offside from an initial shot.

Although the Dons brought on Darius Charles as a makeshift striker for the final 10 minutes and benefited from his physical presence, there was no goal reward as Wimbledon slumped to defeat, precariously perched outside the early season relegation spots on goal difference alone.

The Dons face a crucial match at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (30 September) when they host fellow strugglers Rochdale. A win for the Dons would propel them above the visitors and relieve some of the mounting pressure on Ardley. They follow that up with a trip to Oxford United (Saturday 7 October).

Southend: Oxley, Demetriou, Ferdinand, Kyprianou, Timlin, Wright, Leonard, Wordsworth (White 80), McLaughlin (McGlashan 70), Cox (Robinson 55), Ranger. Subs not used: Hendrie, Fortuné, Bishop, Yearwood.

Goalscorer: Demetriou 60.

Booked: Demetriou 73.

Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Oshilaja, Nightingale, Francomb, Parrett (Forrester 67), Trotter, Barcham (Charles 81), Soares (Abdou 76), McDonald, Taylor. Subs not used: Robinson, Kaja, McDonnell, Hartigan.

Booked: McDonald 63.

Att: 5,881.

By Rob Crane

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September 29, 2017