Dons’ Dip Continues With Oxford Defeat

Wimbledon 0 v Oxford 2

Wimbledon’s run of poor results continued on Saturday (26 October) as they lost 0-2 at home to an Oxford United whose victory propelled them to the top of the table.

The Dons have now picked up just two points from the last 18 available and, after a bright start to the season, have dropped down the table. Typical of their recent form, this match saw plenty of possession matched by an equal amount of sideways passing at a low tempo, with little threat up front.

Manager Neal Ardley told the club’s official website: ‘We have been trying to get back to basics for a few weeks now, but there is no magic formula. We all know what we are trying to achieve.

‘I am still confident that we have a decent team here because you don’t all of a sudden forget how to win games. I believe that the tide will turn. Hopefully between us all we will get there.’

Wimbledon’s poor run has been accompanied by a slice of ill-luck, and that was typified at the start of this match. The Dons had started brightly but we undone after just six minutes. Peter Sweeney stumbled under a challenge from Asa Hall and, as Dons claims for a free kick were ignored, Hall’s cross was headed home by an unchallenged but suspiciously offside-looking James Constable to put the visitors ahead.

That prompted a visible deflation in Wimbledon confidence, who had made four changes from the midweek side that played Hartlepool with Andy Frampton replacing Alan Bennett at the back and Callum Kennedy, George Francomb and Charlie Strutton also coming in to the side.

George Porter did fashion one half-opportunity for the Dons to get back onto level terms when his cross just evaded George Francomb at the far post, but the Dons were relieved when the referee turned away Oxford penalty claims after Barry Fuller appeared to upend Sean Rigg.

The closest the Dons came was ten minutes before the break when Porter again created an opening down the right but his accurate cross was headed just off target by the stooping Michael Smith.

It wasn’t until a double substitution just after the hour that the Dons finally sparked into life, with Luke Moore and Kevin Sainte-Luce coming on to replace Francomb and the energetic but largely ineffectual Strutton.

The two subs combined, Moore heading on Fuller’s through ball for Sainte-Luce to latch onto, but as the Frenchman bore down on goal keeper Ryan Clarke came off his line to smother the shot.

And the Dons were finally forced to concede defeat with six minutes remaining when Rhys Weston and Deane Smalley contested a long ball into the Wimbledon box. Weston made a hash of his interception – possibly with the aid of a slight nudge from Smalley – but his lunge challenge to attempt to retrieve the situation only succeeded in upending the Oxford man. Smalley himself stepped up to convert the penalty and make it 2-0 to the visitors.

Wimbledon fans will be hoping for more luck and a return to the early season’s high-tempo performances when they travel to Rochdale next Saturday (2 November).

• In the FA Cup, Wimbledon have been drawn at home to Coventry City. The tie is likely to attract media attention due to similarities between the Dons’ Milton Keynes experiences and Coventry’s recent relocation to Northampton.

Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Frampton, Weston, Kennedy, Porter, S. Moore, Sweeney (Pell 76), Francomb (Sainte-Luce 62), Strutton (L. Moore 62), Smith. Subs not used: Midson, Antwi, Fenlon, Brown.

Oxford United: Clarke, Newey, Wright, Raynes, Hunt, Williams (Smalley 62), Whing, Rose, Rigg (Ruffels 80), Hall (Davies 60), Constable. Subs not used: Marsh, Crocombe, Bevans, O’Dowda.

Goalscorers: Constable 6, Smalley 82 (pen).

Booked: Newey 40.

Attendance: 4,685

By Rob Crane

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October 28, 2013