Wimbledon 2 v Yeovil Town 3
Wimbledon’s defensive frailties returned to the surface to scupper their recent run of good form as the Dons lost 2-3 at home to Yeovil Town on Saturday (30 January).
The Dons had propelled themselves into the play-off places with four wins in a run of six undefeated matches, but that all came to an end against strugglers Yeovil, despite the fact that the Dons twice took the lead through goals by David Fitzpatrick and Tom Elliott.
A hat-trick from the visitors’ Jack Compton was enough to see the Glovers to victory, but all three goals came with a helping hand from the Dons defence.
Talking to the club’s official website afterwards, boss Neal Ardley lamented: ‘We had four or five players that have been playing really well but they underperformed.
‘When you have that it is hard, but we still scored two very good goals. At home that should be enough, but the goals we conceded were really poor.’
The Dons started brightly enough and took the lead within the first 10 minutes, and it was a slick passing move that opened up the Yeovil defence. Callum Kennedy and Jake Reeves combined down the left before the latter threaded the ball into Lyle Taylor. With his back to goal, Taylor laid the ball off to the penalty area D where Fitzpatrick fired home for his first goal in senior football.
But within minutes the visitors were level with their first attack of note. On-loan Everton midfielder Liam Walsh forced Karleigh Osborne to step out of defence to close him down, and with Kennedy failing to tuck in to provide cover Compton was free to gallop into the space and fire beyond James Shea to make it 1-1.
The game now opened up as both sides sought to attack, with the Dons breathing a sigh of relief when Elliott deflected one cross onto his own crossbar. But it was the Dons who again went ahead just before the half hour.
The ever-dynamic Barry Fuller found himself on the ball in an unfamiliar central midfield position and used his equally unfamiliar left foot to thread the ball through towards Elliott’s run. Although the ball his Elliott’s heel, it fortuitously bounced up and over his head, sitting up perfectly for the striker to run onto before firing home.
Any hopes that the restored lead might calm the Dons proved ill-founded. Osborne got himself in a tangle near the touchline midway inside the Wimbledon half and was booked as he gave away a free-kick. Compton’s long, looping free-kick was sufficient to deceive the frantically backpedalling Shea as it nestled into the corner of the net. 2-2.
The Dons continued to push, producing a weak Taylor effort after a surging run and an Elliott header that came back off the foot of the post, as the home side sought to regain the momentum.
But any confidence seemed to slowly evaporate from the players in the second period as they struggled to regain the fluency of recent weeks, being reduced to trying to thread the ball through rather than utilising the ball over the top that has worked so well in recent weeks.
And given the Dons’ traditional travails against teams positioned towards the lower reaches of League Two, there was a growing sense of inevitability that came to fruition just after the hour.
First Yeovil substitute Kevin Dawson surged past Jake Reeves as he headed towards the goal line, then he did the same to Kennedy. Almost instinctively, Kennedy reached out and tugged at the Yeovil man, prompting a penalty kick that Compton despatched to round off his hat-trick.
The Dons responded with a triple substitution but were now finding themselves increasingly frustrated, both on the terraces and on the pitch, as passes started going astray and all momentum was lost.
Ade Azeez used his pace to fashion two chances, first forcing a save from Artur Krysiak and then setting up George Francomb who ballooned his shot over, but the day ended in frustrating fashion for the Dons as they failed to make much of an impact.
They will be hoping for better luck next week when they visit Bristol Rovers (6 February) before hosting Luton Town on 13 February.
Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Robinson, Osborne, Kennedy, Fitzpatrick (Francomb 65), Reeves, Meades, Barcham, Elliott (Azeez 65), Taylor (Akinfenwa 65). Subs not used: Beere, Smith, Sweeney, McDonnell.
Goalscorers: Fitzpatrick 9, Elliott 29.
Booked: Osborne 34, Azeez 92.
Yeovil: Krysiak, Roberts, Sokolik, Smith, Dickson, Tozer, Walsh (Gillett 82), Dolan, Compton (Campbell 87), Zoko, Jeffers (Dawson 53). Subs not used: Laird, Weale, Allen, Cornick.
Goalscorer: Compton 12, 35, 63 (pen).