Gnanduillet 51, 81
AFC WIMBLEDON 0
BY LAURENCE LOWNE AT BLOOMFIELD ROAD
Bloomfield Road has never been a happy hunting ground for Wimbledon – the best result there was a 1-1 draw in September 1982. So the mirroring of last season’s 0-2 defeat came as little surprise to the 301 visiting supporters.
Dons manager Glyn Hodges was able to juggle his team around with Marcus Forss – not allowed to play in the FA Cup by parent club Brentford – back in the fold for selection. Fellow loanees Max Sanders and Ryan Delaney were back from knocks, the latter’s return was crucial as Paul Kalambayi served a one-match ban having collected five bookings.
One thing that was a little concerning was the apparent disorganisation in defence, with the vocal Kalambayi missed in more ways than one. He will surely play, if fit, in tonight’s cup replay at Doncaster.
Wimbledon are also without the injured Anthony Wordsworth, who brings power and vitality to the midfield alongside Brighton’s Sanders, who ran himself into the ground.
This was a routine victory for Blackpool. Wimbledon were punished for two defensive lapses, both goals scored by Armand Gnanduillet.
Just for good measure Sullay Kaikai hit the crossbar in the first half, so the scoreline did not totally reflect their dominance.
In terms of shots on target, Wimbledon were ahead after the first 45 minutes. Terell Thomas troubled the keeper from outside the box after a mazy run, and Scott Wagstaff created a super opening after fine work by Joe Pigott set him free. Wagstaff’s cross fell behind the supporting Forss and the opportunity was missed.
Sanders was the other player who got a rasping shot on target from a neat free-kick routine and it was too hot to handle for home keeper Jak Alnwick, who chose to punch away.
The 0-0 half-time scoreline was pretty fair but within a few minutes of the restart the home side were 1-0 up. West Ham loanee Nathan Trott will not be pleased to have been beaten at the near post after sloppy play both in midfield and defence left Gnanduillet with the opportunity to score.
Wimbledon came back looking for an equaliser, but the referee waved away claims for a handball in the box were waved away. But Delaney being taken out on the edge of the box, when running in to meet a free-kick was the one that official Andy Haines chose to miss.
Haines’ continual inability to penalise Blackpool captain Jay Spearing for reckless tackles and retaliation summed up the afternoon.
Of greater concern was the sheer lack of openings for the strikers created by a static midfield and yet another howler in defence, when Thomas failed to clear his lines and simply set up Blackpool for their second gift. Gnanduillet appreciated the help for his 12th goal of the season.
Trott then made two great saves to keep the scoreline respectable.
The only Wimbledon chance of note came in stoppage time. Forss wriggled free and put in a fine shot which home keeper Alnwick managed to push away for corner.
All in all this was not a great day to be beside the seaside, and a visit to the waters of the River Don may yet prove to be a more enjoyable experience on Tuesday in the FA Cup replay.
But it will have to be done without Forss, so expect to see Kwesi Appiah return.
AFC Wimbledon (3-5-2): Trott 5, O’Neill 5, Thomas 5, Wagstaff 5, Pinnock 5 (Appiah 78), Forss 6, McLoughlin 4 (Hartigan 62, 5), Delaney 5, Sanders 6 (Reilly 62, 4), Osew 5, Pigott 5. Not used: McDonnell, Guinness-Walker, Wood, Madelin.
PICTURES BY SEAN GOSLING