AFC Wimbledon 0 v Wigan Athletic 4
AFC Wimbledon are firmly embroiled in the relegation dogfight after slipping to second from bottom in the table following a predictable and emphatic 0-4 home defeat against high-flying Wigan Athletic on Saturday (16 December). And to compound the disappointment for home supporters, attacking midfielder Harry Forrester was dismissed for receiving two yellow cards.
The Dons produced a solid-enough first-half performance that saw the teams go into the break goalless. But throughout the match they failed to register a single shot on target and, as soon as Wigan took the lead in the 57th minute, there was an air of inevitability about the result.
Afterwards manager Neal Ardley told the club’s iFollow Dons channel: ‘People will probably remember the last 20 minutes and say that we were well beaten, but we were not. For 65 minutes, we had a right go. I was proud of that, but disappointed with the lack of discipline [that saw Wigan score four second-half goals].
‘I take responsibility for everything that happens at the club. I take full responsibility for the first 65 minutes when we were having a right go and then it was very difficult after that. When you are down to 10 men, there is no game plan to cope with that.’
It took Wigan just two minutes to show their attacking intent as Nick Powell ran strongly down the right flank, crossing into the middle that Gavin Massey fired wide.
Quarter of an hour later came another golden chance when Jon Meades dawdled too long on the ball and was dispossessed. Massey was instigator this time, charging down the right before delivering a cross from which Michael Jacobs seemed destined to score, only for George Long to block the header. Lee Evans then struck the rebound wide.
The Dons upped the tempo slightly after the break, but it was the visitors who took the lead shortly before the hour. After a sequence of neat midfield exchanges, the ball was slipped through to Massey who capitalised on Barry Fuller napping to charge to the by-line before pulling the ball back. Jacobs’ shot took a deflection off Meades to leave Long wrongfooted.
Wimbledon clung on but their chances were further diminished when Forrester was sent off with little more than 20 minutes remaining. Having already been booked, the on-loan Glasgow Rangers man went in overenthusiastically and swept away the legs of Sam Morsy, earning his second appearance in the referee’s notebook and an early bath.
It was now that Wigan turned the screw. First Powell danced his way past the half-hearted presence of substitute Anthony Hartigan before unleashing a vicious edge-of-the-box shot that rocketed into the back of the net.
His hopes of winning any unofficial ‘goal of the day’ competitions evaporated when Morsy rolled free-kick into the path of Max Power who blasted home from 25 yards. And the scoring was complete on the stroke of 90 minutes when Ivan Toney capitalised on the space left by a Wimbledon foray, turned inside Hartigan and then placed the ball home with a shot that Long got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.
Next up for the Dons is a home encounter with another promotion-chasing side, Bradford City, on Saturday 23 December. They then travel to Portsmouth on Boxing Day before rounding off the year with a trip to Gillingham on 30 December.
AFC Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Oshilaja, Charles, Meades, Forrester, Trotter, Soares (Hartigan 72), McDonald (Appiah 72), Taylor, Barcham. Subs not used: Robinson, Abdou, Kaja, Kennedy, McDonnell.
Booked: Soares 49, Oshilaja 53, Forrester 55, Charles 96.
Sent off: Forrester 69.
Wigan: Walton, Byrne, Dunkley, Burn, James, Morsy, Evans, Massey (Power 70), Powell (Hunt 85), Jacobs, Grigg (Toney 89). Subs not used: Elder, Bruce, Roberts, Sarkic.
Goalscorers: Jacobs 57, Powell 73, Power 80, Toney 90.
Booked: Powell 54, Massey 70.
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December 22, 2017