Coppinger 52 Bingham 70
AFC WIMBLEDON 0
BY DAVE HUNT-JACKSON AT THE KEEPMOAT STADIUM
AFC Wimbledon could not repeat their FA Cup heroics of recent years as they were dumped out at the first round stage by Doncaster in Tuesday night’s replay.
The South Londoners’ exit came despite totally dominating the first half. They should have led but Kwesi Appiah struck the bottom of the post with a glorious chance.
In what was the very definition of a game of two halves, Wimbledon were torn apart by their hosts in the second period and again were guilty of poor defending on both of the goals.
James Coppinger proved tormentor in chief once again with a goal and also an assist.
Wimbledon’s lack of strength in depth was cruelly exposed.
Terell Thomas looks short on confidence and for a second game in a row committed a major howler that should have cost the South Londoners a third goal. His substitution for Paul Kalambayi – with the Dons chasing the game – was telling.
With Will Nightingale and Rod McDonald still injured and Ryan Delaney’s loan from Rochdale due to end on January 1 there are worries in the heart of the defence.
Marcus Forss was not able to play – Brentford not wanting the Finnish U21 international to become cup tied – and while Joe Pigott and Appiah ran their socks off they have never seemed a natural pairing.
Pigott is not in goalscoring form, the former Charlton striker has not netted in the league since the opening day of the season and, and Appiah has never truly got into the goal groove in his two-and-a-half seasons at the club – with 13 goals in 66 appearances.
If Brentford exercise their option to recall Forss at the start of 2020 then it is hard to see where the goals will come from to keep AFC Wimbledon in League One.
Watford loanee Michael Folivi is still unavailable and not an out and out goalscorer. Adam Roscrow is also still in the treatment room and far from proven at this level.
Perhaps the biggest area for concern though is the midfield.
Anthony Hartigan seems to have gone backwards almost as much as his passes. The academy product looks out of form, out of confidence and totally out of position as a holding midfielder. It’s hard to remember the last time he produced a pass that went forward, never mind unlocked a defence. Max Sanders did more in 10 minutes when he replaced Hartigan than the youngster had in the previous 80.
Mitch Pinnock improves with every game and Scott Wagstaff is consistently amongst the Dons’ best players but apart from the injured Anthony Wordsworth there are no other midfielders who have shown they are ready to play a consistent or meaningful role in the middle of the park. The January window will be key, both in keeping the influential loanees but also strengthening for what looks to be yet another relegation battle.
With the fee from the sale of Toby Sibbick to Barnsley and the proceeds of last year’s FA Cup run, Wimbledon fans – 181 of whom braved the freezing weather on Tuesday – will be hoping that manager Glyn Hodges is handed the funds to bring in the players who are so obviously needed. If not then they may be asking an awful lot of youngsters like Tommy Wood and Jack Rudoni if the Dons are to walk out in their new stadium as a League One side.
AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): Trott 7, Thomas 5 (Kalambayi 76) , Osew 6, Delaney 7, O’Neill 7, Hartigan 6 (Sanders 80), Pinnock 7, Wagstaff 7, Pigott 7, Reilly 6 (McLoughlin 67, 6), Appiah 7. Not used: McDonnell, Madelin, Guiness-Walker, Robinson.
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