Tilt 7, Bola 84
BY DAVID HUNT-JACKSON AT BLOOMFIELD ROAD
AFC Wimbledon slumped to yet another defeat this time at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road on Saturday.
Its now just two wins and six points from their last eleven league matches for the South Londoners as they suffered the same fate as on their last visit to the Tangerines.
Last season they could at least take comfort from a decent performance in which they were the better side. This time round they gifted both goals to a poor looking host side who barely needed to get into second gear and failed to produce anything to trouble home custodian Mark Howard.
Having said that, the referee, Anthony Backhouse, failed to spot a hand ball in the Blackpool penalty box during the second half, which could have seen the scores back to 1-1.
The omens did not look good when the Dons lined up with skipper Deji Oshilaja at right back. He is not a natural full back as he proved rather spectacularly in the debacle at Bury last season.
If Tennai Watson wasn’t fit why was he on the bench?
If he was fit why didn’t he start or for that matter Toby Sibbick in his stead? If no right back was available why not play 3-5-2 which the line up selected would be more suited to?
Top scorer Joe Pigott and play maker Mitch Pinnock both watched an insipid first half display from the bench. They saw an initially bright start quickly dissipate and the hosts take a half time lead from a corner that would have gone straight in anyway without the touch from Curtis Tilt.
The second half was better from Wimbledon but they once again failed to score and only really showed any intensity once Pinnock was introduced.
They still conceded a shocking second goal after Oshilja was replaced by Liam Trotter. This move made no difference to Wimbledon’s threat going forward but did leave the right channel completely empty to allow Mark Bola the freedom of the park to run and slot home a second.
There were familiar themes at play here.
Players played out of position, baffling team selections, baffling substitutions, poor defending from a set piece for which the manager blamed the players and a game in which once again AFC Wimbledon largely failed to turn up until the second half and only looked better when their opponents had the lead.
The Dons are in the relegation zone with four defeats in a row (two against teams below them) with just one goal scored.
Indeed their only League win since the early September came against the other side beneath them in the table.
There were very few positives but a big one is Anthony Hartigan who at 18 already looks head and shoulders above the other central midfield options.
He is more positive, quicker thinking and more creative than either Trotter or Tom Soares whose continued inclusion remains a mystery.
Neither of the more experienced players have produced their form of the first three or four matches and as a result the strike force are often left isolated and unsupported.
In Pinnock, Hartigan and Pigott the Dons have talented youngsters who play with energy and without fear.
They are the sort of players some managers look to build their team around. If Wimbledon are to avoid relegation this season surely these three have a big part not a bit part to play.
One thing is certain the current level of performances never mind the results is relegation form and needs to change and change fast.
AFC Wimbledon: McDonnell 6, McDonald 8 Purrington 6 (Sub Pinnock 72-7), Oshilaja 6 (Sub Trotter 82-0), Nightingale 7, Wagstaff 7 Hanson 7, Soares 5, Hartigan 7 Appiah 7 (Sub Pigott -75-6), Jervis 7 Subs not used: King,Thomas, Watson, Egan Yellow cards: Hanson, Appiah (AFC Wimbledon) Attendance: including 3,246 (away 325) Referee: A Backhouse 5
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