AFC Wimbledon 0
By Dave Hunt-Jackson at The Stadium of Light
AFC Wimbledon are nine points from safety after they failed to carry the momentum from the FA Cup back into League One.
An Aiden McGeady strike was enough to take all three points for Sunderland in a game of few chances at the Stadium of Light that the Dons did not deserve to lose.
Wimbledon manager Wally Downes made just one change to the side that upset West Ham United with Steve Seddon returning at the expense of Rod McDonald.
If anything the Dons had the best of the chances with Will Nightingale firing over then heading over from close range, and Anthony Wordsworth almost caught home keeper Joe McLaughlin out with an audacious strike from near the halfway line.
It was never going to be easy against a side that had reportedly paid £4million for a player in midweek – Will Grigg from Wigan Athletic – and were roared on by a crowd of over 30,000.
The home supporter certainly influenced referee Ben Toner as the Dons were denied a second strong penalty claim against the Black Cats this season when Scott Wagstaff looked to have been fouled in the area late on.
The game did not feature either of the Dons’ midweek signings, although Shane McLoughlin was an unused substitute. The former Ipswich Town midfielder and striker Michael Folivi, a deadline day acquisition from Watford, will need to be in inspired form, along with Wimbledon needing to perform to at least this standard in each of their remaining games, if they are to have any chance of avoiding the League One drop.
Sunderland are most likely a team heading for promotion but the Dons matched them blow for blow for most of the game, conceding to a very rare Black Cats opportunity following a defensive lapse.
Sadly such is the mountain that the Dons face that plucky defeats are just further nails in the coffin as games are fast running out.
Downes was not downhearted after the game, despite the result. He was cheered by the excellent performance his team had put in and feels that improved results are just around the corner.
Wimbledon need promotion form if they are to climb out of the hole that Downes inherited. His policy of signing young, hungry players who are ripe for development at least points to a brighter future – although that looks more and more likely to be in League Two next year.
Although the displays against West Ham and now Sunderland show what they the Dons are capable of producing, the big question is whether they can do so consistently because there is almost no margin for error any more.
AFC Wimbledon (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale 7, Oshilaja 6, Seddon 7 Nightingale 7, Watson 6 (Sibbick 69, 7), Connolly 7 (Jervis 67, 5) Appiah 7, Pinnock 6 (Pigott 75), Wagstaff 7, Wordsworth 7, Thomas 8. Not used: McDonnell, Hartigan, McDonald, McLoughlin.