Kee 6 McConville 60
AFC Wimbledon 1
Neal Ardley was left to once again lament a below-par performance as his charges were comfortably bested by Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
With Joe McDonnell preferred to Tom King in goal and the target men of James Hanson and Joe Pigott paired up front, it was the missing midfield that cost Wimbledon dear.
This was as bad an opening half hour as anything the Dons have served up this season, or indeed since they were promoted to League One. For the first third of the match, AFC Wimbledon simply did not turn up. Perhaps the only positive thing was at least the scoreline was only 1-0 because the Dons, save for a slightly better last 15 minutes, had produced nothing of note at either end of the park.
With Mitch Pinnock’s usually pinpoint crosses deserting him and Andy Barcham totally ineffective and appearing to play a very strange role, behind the front two rather than out wide supplying crosses, it needed Tom Soares and Liam Trotter to step up. They didn’t. It was only when Scott Wagstaff was introduced at the start of the second half that the visitors showed any interest in the proceedings.
That role for Barcham was also key as to why Accrington took the lead – rather than protect Ben Purrington at left-back, his absence meant the home team had free reign down that channel. Ardley saw this and kept beckoning Barcham back to hug the left-hand touchline, but he appeared to simply ignore the instruction. As a result Accrington took the lead and could have had many more as they targeted Purrington again and again.
The Dons did manage to raise their game a little once Wagstaff arrived to replace the wholly ineffective Barcham and their hosts obligingly lowered their tempo, which allowed something of a contest to develop.
Wimbledon finally began to show a little passion and Wagstaff breathed some intensity into a lacklustre display and effectively kept the match alive with a fine solo goal after Accrington had fluked a second from a big deflection.
Pigott so nearly snatched a thoroughly undeserved point in injury time but his acrobatic volley was cleared off the line after Connor Ripley in the Stanley goal had flapped hopelessly at a cross.
Ardley, not for the first time this season, blamed his players for failing to carry out instructions but it was the lack of intensity that may worry both him and the 220 travelling fans even more and that surely has to be instilled from the top.
Despite looking a stronger squad than ever this season and despite spending money on transfer fees his team were outplayed and out-muscled by an outfit with significantly less resources than Wimbledon.
So woeful was the display that there was very little to be taken from this loss. The defence stood and watched as Billy Kee opened the scoring and it’s not as if he is an unknown quantity as far as the Dons are concerned as he invariably scores against them.
The midfield, Wagstaff apart, were hopeless – leaving the forwards largely starved of service although both did work tirelessly, as did the lively Jake Jervis when he came on.
McDonnell at least did his cause no harm and should surely be handed an extended run in the side – the Dons face the bottom three sides in the space of a week and that could have a huge bearing on the rest of the season.
Ardley will hope that on Saturday his players will listen to his instructions and act upon them – because the fans will hope they won’t be listening to the same excuses after the visit of Oxford United.
AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): McDonnell 7 Watson 6, Oshilaja 6, McDonald 6, Purrington 6, Soares 4, Trotter 5, Pinnock 6 (Jervis 63, 7), Barcham 4 (Wagstaff 46, 8), Hanson 6, Pigott 7. Not used: King, Sibbick, Hartigan, Garratt, Nightingale.
IMAGE BY PAUL EDWARDS