Disappointing Dons Slump To Rochdale Defeat

Wimbledon 0 v Rochdale 3

A 16-minute second-half hat-trick by Rochdale’s Scott Hogan condemned Wimbledon to a 3-0 home defeat on Saturday (8 February).

Manager Neal Ardley didn’t spare his criticism of his players after the final whistle, telling BBC London 94.9: ‘I felt very let down by the lack of tempo when we went 1-0 down, and the lack of desire from the team to get back in the game. It was a severe lack of character throughout the team.

‘Losing some players early on had a massive impact, as everything we worked on during the week went out the window, but it’s not an excuse I’m going to hide behind.’

Midfielder Sammy Moore was forced off just before the half-hour, disrupting the Dons’ 4-4-2 formation, but by then Ardley’s side could have been ahead in a low-key first period.

Just 11 minutes were on the clock when Harry Pell did well to get in a cross to the centre that Charlie Wyke headed tamely over when really he should at least have forced a save from visiting goalkeeper Josh Lillis.

Wimbledon struggled to create goalscoring chances throughout, but again had a glorious opportunity early in the second half when Wyke rounded Lillis only to hesitate when strike partner Danny Hylton interfered with his sight of goal.

And after that, Rochdale took a firm grip on the game. Matthew Lund had already seen two headers flash over the bar before the visitors took the lead, Michael Rose dispossessing Harry Pell in midfield and feeding Matt Done, whose cross seemed to hang in the air leaving Ross Worner forlornly punching thin air as Scott Hogan headed home to make it 1-0 to Rochdale.

The Dons failed to respond, and with 11 minutes remaining were 2-0 down. The Dons again lost possession in the middle of the park and Peter Vincenti played a defence-splitting pass through to Hogan who galloped clear of Alan Bennett, rounded Worner and calmly slotted home.

Minutes later, Hogan got his hat-trick. This time it was a long ball from Joe Rafferty that went from one penalty box to the other, where Hogan on the half-volley calmly lofted the ball over the advancing Worner to make it 3-0.

The Dons now face consecutive away trips, travelling to Newport on Tuesday 11 February before travelling down the M3 to Portsmouth next weekend.

Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller (Fenlon 69), Arthur, Bennett, Jones, Morris, Pell, Francomb, Hylton (Sheringham 76), Wyke, S. Moore (Sainte-Luce 28). Subs not used: Midson, L. Moore, Brown.

Booked: Pell 24.

Rochdale: Lillis, Rafferty, Done, Allen (Vincenti 74), Eastham, O’Connell, Henderson (Bunney 86), Lund, Hogan (Donnelly 90), Kennedy, Rose. Subs not used: Bennett, Porter, Thomson, Camps.

Goalscorer: Hogan 66, 79, 82.

By Rob Crane

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February 10, 2014