Maguire 8, 53, 79
AFC WIMBLEDON 1
BY DAVE HUNT-JACKSON AT THE STADIUM OF LIGHT
AFC Wimbledon are still pointless on their travels as poor defending allowed Chris Maguire to help himself to a hat-trick.
Wally Downes made no changes to the Dons side that suffered that late setback at Ipswich with last season’s top scorer Joe Pigott again on the bench. Skipper Will Nightingale was back available as he returned from injury although Anthony Wordsworth remained sidelined.
Against a side fancied to at least make the play-offs the Dons could ill-afford to concede early, so it was even more disappointing that they gifted their opponents the opener.
A simple ball over the top caught out the entire defence and it flicked off Paul Kalambayi’s head and left Maguire free and in yards of space. How they could have done with a centre-half like Radio Wdon’s guest commentator Mick Smith who would have dealt with the through ball without breaking sweat.
The second Sunderland goal was not much better from a defensive point of view. Having got themselves back into the game with a carbon copy of their goal at Fleetwood – Kwesi Appiah burying Luke O’Neill’s cross with a close-range header – the Dons failed to clear a corner and Maguire’s deflected shot left Nathan Trott wrong footed and with no chance.
The pattern of the season up until Saturday had been a failure to perform in both halves. But this time Wimbledon failed to perform in either.
Sunderland were wayward in their passing and despite getting to the visitors’ byline at will they failed to take full advantage of the great positions they were allowed to get into time after time.
Despite this Wimbledon were unable to stop them from attacking and largely impotent up front with neither Pigott nor Adam Roscrow being utilised from the bench despite the Dons trailing for most of the second half.
While it is true that Wimbledon have had an incredibly tough set of early fixtures, one home draw against Accrington is surely less than they should have achieved. Only crisis clubs Bury and Bolton are saving them from being even closer to the bottom of the embryonic League One table.
On this showing they need club captain Nightingale back in the starting line up – and Wordsworth too. They need a midfield that can create more chances for the forwards and they look short on firepower up front.
Surely Downes – the man who kept the Dons in this division – should be given funds to rectify this? It seems strange that his reward for the ‘Great Escape’ is to have a significantly lesser budget than Neal Ardley, the man who created the need for that desperate fight for survival.
AFC Wimbledon (3-5-2): Trott 7, O’Neill 7, Guinness-Walker 6, McDonald 6, Hartigan 5, Kalambayi 6 (Nightingale 61, 7) , Appiah 6, Wagstaff 7, Folivi 6 (Connolly 63, 5), Reilly 6 (Pinnock 78), Thomas 6. Not used: Tzanev, McLoughlin, Roscrow, Pigott.