BY MAX HALL
After eight successive League One defeats, Wimbledon finally had a slice of luck as Mitch Pinnock’s intended cross dropped into the Southend goal to decide a poor encounter that nevertheless throws the hosts a lifeline.
An open start had seen Theo Robinson sting Dons keeper Joe McDonnell’s palms at the near post and Pinnock blaze wildly over, unmarked, from a Kwesi Appiah lay-off at the other end inside the opening eight minutes.
Less than a minute later, the hosts were behind when a low cross from Southend’s Stephen Hendrie on the left was sidefooted past McDonnell at his near post by the hapless Liam Trotter, facing his own goal.
Deji Oshilaja fired wildly over on the run, from a similar position to Pinnock midway through the first half, but Wimbledon were looking second best.
Somehow they went in on level terms at the break though, after Scott Wagstaff crossed from the right and snookered Hendrie, who headed home as Oshilaja wheeled away in delight.
The Dons skipper had to get his body on the line in the 59th minute to block a shot by Robinson as the second half started to drift.
Wimbledon finally got a break in the 70th minute, as Pinnock’s curling cross from the right caught out United keeper Mark Oxley – distracted by the run of first-half substitute Joe Pigott – and sailed around the shot-stopper to drop into the bottom left corner of the goal.
A falling Pigott came within a whisker of a third goal nine minutes later, firing against the left-hand upright after a Pinnock corner from the right ricocheted between the heads of Oshilaja and Will Nightingale at the far post before being hacked off the line by an orange shirt.
With Wimbledon visibly gaining in confidence, Wagstaff broke down the right a minute from time – despite a tug from Harry Kyprianou – and crossed for Pigott, whose header was blocked on the line by John White.
AFC Wimbledon (4-2-3-1): McDonnell, Oshilaja, Nightingale, McDonald, Purrington, Soares, Trotter, Pinnock (Barcham, 90), Wordsworth (Hartigan, 90), Wagstaff, Appiah (Pigott, 43). Subs not used: King (GK), Watson, Thomas, Jervis.
Southend United (5-3-2): Oxley, Demetriou, Moore, White, Kyprianou, Hendrie (McLaughlin, 82) Mantom, Dieng, Yearwood (Bunn, 61), Robinson (McCoulsky 61), Cox. Subs not used: Bishop (GK), Bwomono, Hyam, Kightly.
IMAGE BY PAUL EDWARDS