BY MAX HALL
Second-half goals from Luton’s Elliot Lee and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu were enough to deepen Wimbledon’s relegation fears and make it one win in 10 for the embattled hosts.
As expected, the visitors started brightly and hit a post within four minutes, when Danny Hylton’s attempt to head Lee’s cross from the right back across goal dropped over everyone onto the inside of the right-hand upright, with Andrew Shinnie’s follow-up charged down.
Dons goalkeeper Joe McDonnell was again grateful to his defence nine minutes later, as another Lee cross, this time from the left, was headed over the keeper by Hylton in the six-yard box, but Rod McDonald hacked clear.
An Anthony Hartigan daisycutter that went wide and a Scott Wagstaff drive, easily held by former Wimbledon keeper James Shea, were the closest the hosts went as the first half turned into a stodgy affair.
Hartigan sent a 30-yard free-kick dipping over for the Dons nine minutes after the restart but it was the Hatters who went ahead, in the 61stminute, when Mpanzu rifled home to the left of the penalty spot after Shinnie had been sent free down the right behind the home defence and supplied an accurate cross.
The hosts had a bizarre let-off five minutes later, when referee Andy Davies penalised Hartigan’s penalty-box tackle on Hylton only for the forward to try and send a Panenka-style ‘falling leaf’ spot-kick to McDonnell’s left that was so softly hit, the kneeling keeper was able to simply bend down and gather.
McDonnell was a spectator though, in the 75th minute, as James Justin’s free-kick from near the right corner flag was headed by Glen Rea at the far post, over the home keeper and onto the roof of the net, and Hylton fired into the side-netting after another good build-up moments later. With McDonnell then denying James Collins with his feet, Luton were turning the screw.
The inevitable second arrived 10 minutes from time, as Lee bent a perfect right-footed effort around the diving McDonnell from just outside the area, after Collins had broken through McDonald’s attempt to clear just outside the Wimbledon box.
AFC Wimbledon (4-3-1-2): McDonnell, Oshilaja, Nightingale, McDonald, Purrington (Pinnock 65), Hartigan, Soares, Trotter, Wagstaff, Hanson, Appiah (Pigott 65). Subs not used: King (GK), Watson, Thomas, Egan, Burey.
Luton Town (4-3-1-2): Shea, Stacey, Pearson, Bradley, Justin, Shinnie, Rea, Mpanzu, Lee (Sheehan 84), Collins, Hylton. Subs not used: Isted (GK), McCormack, Cornick, Lualua, Jarvis, Jones.
IMAGE BY PAUL EDWARDS
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