BRISTOL ROVERS 3
Ogogo 29 Clarke-Harris 75 Craig 87
BY DANIEL MARSH AT THE CHERRY RED RECORDS STADIUM
Earth, Wind & Fire reverberated around the Cherry Red prior to kick-off but the Dons faithful will not be making a conscious effort to remember September 21 – or any of this month or August for that matter.
It is 10 games into the new season and AFC Wimbledon are yet to find that elusive maximum point haul. Taking the end of last season into account, the Dons have gone 11 games without a victory, with only two successes in their last 16 league games.
The frustration at full-time for anyone associated with Wimbledon was clear for all to see, with the majority of the ire directed at the officials after some very questionable decisions – assistant boss Glyn Hodges deep in the ear of referee Nick Kinseley as they departed the field.
The decision to book Marcus Forss for his celebrations after the opener was perhaps unnecessary – even if compliant with the laws of the game. His celebrations weren’t muted, but – as Wally Downes rightly pointed out post-match – he didn’t appear to leave the field of play and any contact with the crowd was minimal.
The young Finnish striker’s dismissal is unfortunate in more ways than one, as he has quickly emerged as a vital cog in the Wimbledon machine. His superb bending strike to give them the lead midway through the first half was his third in five games, and he will be missed this weekend at Peterborough.
However, it was an all too familiar case of deja-vu for Wimbledon, as Abu Ogogo was left criminally unmarked to stoop and restore parity just nine minutes later after they nudged in front.
The Dons have lost a concerning 16 points from leading positions – more than anyone in the division.
Conceding poor goals has been another factor of the Dons’ opening 10 games.
All three of the visitors’ strikes make for grim viewing, even if there was controversy over the second, which arrived just minutes after Forss’ dismissal.
The general consensus in the press box was that Nathan Trott was fouled as he attempted to gather a Johnson Clarke-Harris header at the second attempt on his goal-line. But the officials ruled that the initial effort had crept over the line, with the linesman confirming to Downes post-match that contact with Trott had been ‘minimal.’
Wimbledon have been dogged by misfortune this season, and although there’s no denying they’ve not been good enough at times – the goals conceded on Saturday afternoon a perfect example – the decisions were harsh when the game stood in the balance.
Downes spoke post-match of how his side were building in the second-half, and they were prior to Forss’ dismissal. Anssi Jaakkola pulled off several superb saves to deny Forss a second on a couple of occasions and Scott Wagstaff, as Rovers battled through.
Before Ogogo was allowed the freedom of Kingston to head Rovers level, they had barely threated Wimbledon at all. But there’s no denying the goal galvanised them and following Forss’ dismissal it looked likely there would be only one winner, as the Dons miserable start continues.
AFC Wimbledon (3-5-2): Trott 5, O’Neill 5, Thomas 6 (Pigott 62, 6), Nightingale 6, Delaney 6, Guinness-Walker 6, Reilly 5, Wagstaff 6, Hartigan 5 (Wordsworth 61, 6), Folivi 6 (Roscrow 75), Forss 7. Not used: Tzanev, Osew, Sanders, Appiah.
PICTURES BY PAUL EDWARDS