AFC Wimbledon Boss Blames His Players After Blackburn Defeat

AFC Wimbledon 0 v Blackburn Rovers 3

AFC Wimbledon stumbled to a defeat against top-of-the-table Blackburn Rovers in freezing conditions on Tuesday night (27 February), with little on display to bring warmth to the Dons supporters.

With Blackburn showing little need to get out of first gear all evening, the Dons managed to contain them for the first half hour, albeit without posing much goal threat of their own. And it was a controversial goal that gave Blackburn the lead. Jack Payne played a deep cross towards Bradley Dack and from a narrow angle the former Gillingham striker looped a header over Dons keeper George Long. Although Deji Oshilaja cleared the ball from the line, the match officials deemed he had got there too late and awarded the goal, much to the indignation of the home support.

The deflation around the ground was palpable. Even a change of formation at half-time – with Joe Pigott brought on to plough a lone furrow up front with Lyle Taylor moved to the wing – did nothing to spark much threat from the home side.

It wasn’t until around the hour mark that Wimbledon finally had a brief flurry. First Taylor shot over in a crowded area when he could have done better, then Harry Forrester cut in from the left and unleashed a shot from the corner of the penalty area that was only narrowly over the bar.

As if roused, Blackburn quickly scored two more goals to put the game beyond doubt. First Elliott Bennett demonstrated the benefits of shooting from distance as he fired home from 25 yards. Then Dack got his second of the match, running on to a low near-post cross to lift the ball over Long.

Although the official statistics show that Wimbledon failed to get an effort on target throughout the match, there can be debate about a weak Pigott header in the dying moments that seemed to at least be heading between the posts but was extremely comfortable for Blackburn keeper David Raya to gather.

Afterwards, manager Neal Ardley again chose to criticise his players for lack of effort, rather than reflect on what many Dons fans perceive as bizarre tactical choices. ‘I told them it was not good enough,’ he said on the club’s iFollow Dons channel. ‘I’ve told them how disappointed I am that against the league leaders we’ve not given it a real go.

‘In football you lose games and you don’t play well, but it’s how you bounce back that’s important. We did it a couple of weeks ago and we need to do it again.’

The Dons host Charlton Athletic – weather permitting – on Saturday 3 March, before entertaining Oxford United the following weekend.

Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Oshilaja, Robinson, Meades, Francomb, Trotter (Soares 78), Abdou, Forrester, Barcham (Pigott 45), Taylor (Parrett 78). Subs not used: McDonald, Kaja, Kennedy, McDonnell.

Blackburn: Raya, Nyambe, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Williams, Smallwood, Bennett, Dack, Payne (Evans 58), Armstrong (Antonsson 80), Graham (Nuttall 75). Subs not used: Leutwiler, Caddis, Bell, Downing.

Goalscorers: Dack 30, 69, Bennett 64.

Booked: Nyambe 7.

Att: 4,401.

By Rob Crane

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February 28, 2018