AFC Wimbledon 3-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Tuesday, 13th Apr 2021 20:33
Will Nightingale, Jack Rudoni and Ryan Longman were on target as AFC Wimbledon beat 10-man Town 3-0 at Plough Lane to record their first ever victory over the Blues. Nightingale headed in the opener on 21, Rudoni nodded home the second four minutes later, then in the 28th minute Josh Harrop was shown a straight red card for a late challenge. Sub Longman added the third in the 86th minute to complete a thoroughly miserable evening for Town.
Town made three changes from Saturday’s 0-0 draw with the MK Dons with Harrop, James Norwood and Alan Judge starting and Teddy Bishop and Andre Dozzell dropping to the bench and Armando Dobra from the 18.
The Blues may again start with a four-man backline with Harrop in central midfield ahead of Flynn Downes and Judge on the left and Gwion Edwards on the right. Norwood and Aaron Drinan were up front.
Myles Kenlock, Kane Vincent-Young, Cole Skuse, Tristan Nydam and Troy Parrott were not involved having played for the U23s this afternoon at Playford Road against Barnsley.
Former Blues youngster Shane McLoughlin was on the bench for the home side.
With a small group of Town fans watching from the roof of the new flats under construction behind one of the goals, the game was preceded by a two-minute silence for HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and the players - again with the exception of Toto Nsiala - taking a knee in support of Black Lives Matter.
In the seventh minute, Ollie Palmer wasn’t far away from getting on the end of a long Nesta Guinness-Walker throw from the left which Tomas Holy gratefully grabbed hold of after Rudoni had seen a shot blocked.
Then at the other end Edwards crossed from the right and Drinan headed against a defender right in front of him.
In the 14th minute Downes broke forward and fed Drinan to his left and the Irishman hit a low shot which Dons keeper Nick Tzanev claimed down to his right.
On 20 Joe Pigott struck a shot from distance which Holy did well to push past the post but form the resultant corner, the home side took the lead. Luke O’Neil sent the ball over from the left and an untracked Nightingale powered a header past Holy. Town boss Paul Cook will have been less than impressed with his side’s defending.
Two minutes later, Tzanev made a mess of a clearance out wide on the left but Edwards’s effort at the empty goal was deflected wide by a sliding defender.
Palmer shot wide on 24 with Rudoni not far away from adding a final touch at the far post but the Dons didn’t have to wait too much longer for their second goal.
Town’s dreadful start got even worse in the 28th minute when Harrop was shown a straight red card. The midfielder went in late Guinness-Walker, who flew into the air screaming. After taking his time and allowing the defender to be treated, referee Antony Coggins gave Harrop his marching orders, perhaps harshly and more down to the reaction than the tackle itself.
The Blues, who had gone 287 minutes without scoring a goal with 11 men, had given themselves a mountain to climb. They continued with two men up front and a narrow three-man midfield.
In the 34th minute Ayoub Assal burst past Woolfenden on the Wimbledon left before hitting a shot which skipper Luke Chambers blocked.
Four minutes later, Town created a chance to pull a goal back. Edwards picked up another poor Tzanev clearance, this time more centrally. The Welshman took the ball wide before crossing low but just in front of Norwood.
Wimbledon were close to making it 3-0 in the 41st minute when Assal hit a shot on the turn straight at Holy.
That was the last chance of what had been a nightmare half for the Blues in a game manager Cook said would define the season.
Even before the goals, Town had struggled with Wimbledon’s two big men up front, Palmer and Pigott, even before the goals with O’Neil’s crosses also having provided a threat every time they had been allowed to come in.
Both goals will frustrate Cook with the Blues’ defending having been the one positive about the team in his opening matches. As has become familiar, Town presented little threat at the other end even with their full complement.
Even with 11 men Town would appear big outsiders to turn the game around, with 10 it looks an impossibility.
Soon after the restart, Edwards got round the back of his full-back on the right and sent over a low cross which Tzanev claimed at a stretch.
Wimbledon had two goes at making it 3-0 in the 50th minute. Assal was played in in space on the right of the box but Holy blocked his effort. The loose ball eventually looped up to him but Nsiala headed his goal-bound effort off the line. In the 59th minute Judge was booked for a foul on Assal.
Edwards had caused Wimbledon a few problems with his pace down the right throughout the half and just before the hour, his low ball into the box was played back to Downes by Drinan but the midfielder was tackled by Nightingale as he took it into the box.
The Blues made a triple change in the 63rd minute with Dozzell, Freddie Sears and Keanan Bennetts taking over from Judge, Drinan and Edwards. For Wimbledon, Jaakko Oksanen came on for Assal and ex-Blue McLoughlin for Rudoni.
In the 69th minute Town swapped Stephen Ward, who had picked up a knock a few moments earlier, for Bishop, who went to the wide right role in what was now a 3-4-2 system with Bennetts on the left. Wimbledon withdrew Palmer for Ryan Longman.
Three minutes later, Pigott curled a shot just wide after the Blues had run into trouble in the centre circle.
On 74 Nightingale almost scored his second of the game, his powerful header from a corner cannoning against one of his own players when it looked on its way into the net.
Town should have pulled a goal back in the 78th minute when Woolfenden crossed deep for Norwood but the striker headed over, his finish in contrast to the Dons’ two goals in the first half. Two minutes later, Norwood was replaced by Kayden Jackson.
In the 86th minute Wimbledon made it 3-0. McLoughlin played it to Longman on the edge of the area and the sub struck a low shot past Holy to complete the Blues’ miserable first visit to the Dons’ new home.
A Town comeback was always hugely unlikely and despite one or two promising moments going forward, largely from Edwards, the Don’s victory never looked in any doubt. The Blues’ best chance was Norwood’s late header over.
The home side had a couple of chances to make it 3-0 prior to their late goal but overall the Dons had been happy enough with their 2-0 lead and saw no reason to overextend themselves with the damage done in the first half.
The Blues have now failed to score in seven of their last 14 and in any of their last three matches.
Manager Cook said beforehand that the match would define Town’s season and a disappointing 3-0 away defeat to opposition struggling in the lower reaches of the division is an accurate description of the Blues’ season. Indeed, it sums up their two campaigns in League One.
Town, who are at Charlton on Saturday, drop to ninth, now five points off the top six still showing no signs of getting anywhere near the form which will see them into the play-offs with only six games left to play.
AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev, O'Neill, Woodyard (c), Nightingale, Palmer (Longman 70), Rudoni (McLoughlin 63), Assal (Oksanen 63), Guinness-Walker, Dobson, Kalambayi, Pigott. Unused: Cox, Csoka, Alexander, Osew.
Town: Holy, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Chambers (c), Edwards (Bennetts 63), Downes, Judge (Dozzell 63), Ward (Bishop 70), Harrop, Norwood (Jackson 80), Drinan (Sears 63). Unused: Cornell, McGuinness, Jackson. Referee: Antony Coggins (Bicester).
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