Dons boss Downes on defeat to Rotherham and explains absence of on-loan West Ham keeper

BY DANIEL MARSH

AFC Wimbledon boss Wally Downes was disappointed to see his side concede from a set-piece late on in yesterday’s narrow 2-1 defeat to Rotherham.

The opening period was dominated by the Millers, although the hosts responded with a strong second-half display to restore parity and then looked to be in control whilst searching for a winner against much-fancied opposition.

But the Dons were ultimately undone by two goals from set-pieces, with Freddie Ladapo and Clark Robertson netting either side of Joe Pigott’s header from a corner of their own.

“Rotherham were better than us in the first half. We were a match for them in the second half and [it’s] disappointing to lose to a set-piece as we did late on,” said Dons boss Downes.

“Once we got going in the second half, we matched them. But, if we’re gonna leak goals in from set pieces late on in games then we’re gonna have an uphill battle. Successful teams score late on from set-plays because their concentration levels are up and their attention to detail is up. Teams that are gonna struggle give them away.

Photo: Paul Edwards

“I’ve got to make sure that we become the team that don’t do that. We never were [one of those teams] last season and I don’t expect us to be this season either, so I’m disappointed from that point of view.”

Wimbledon arguably had the upper hand after drawing level, and with the minutes fading, were probing for their own winner before a whipped corner evaded multiple bodies in the centre and was forced home by Robertson.

“[It] must be a lack of concentration but it shouldn’t be,” explained Downes when discussing the winning goal.

“We should be on red alert at set-plays with 10 minutes [or so] to go, that’s when you’re professional and get the job done.”

One of the positives taken from the game for Wimbledon was the performance of debutant keeper Nik Tzanev. The youngster produced a couple of eye-catching saves, including one from point-blank range in the opening period.

Photo: Paul Edwards

“I thought he was excellent,” said Downes when discussing Tzanev’s performance.

“A good performance from the boy. He’s been working with us all season; he went out on loan last season to get some games. I’d have liked to have got some more games into him, but he certainly stepped up today and he was excellent for a debut.”

West Ham loanee Nathan Trott had figured in pre-season alongside Tzanev but did not make the matchday 18 with Downes confirming post-match he had a slight injury problem.

“He’s got a little bit of a groin problem. West Ham are looking at him and have taken it out of our hands really so that’s ongoing, we’ll see where we are next week.”

PHOTOS BY PAUL EDWARDS

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