Laurence Lowne’s big-match verdict on AFC Wimbledon’s 2-1 FA Cup loss to Crawley – fixture backlog a big factor in exit


Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Crawley Town was one game too far for a tired AFC Wimbledon side – now they must try to recharge their batteries, regroup and look to take points from Peterborough United on Wednesday evening in League One before Bristol Rovers come visiting Saturday.

There has been no let up in the demands caused by the enforced Covid-19 break recently.

Having completed 1,600 miles in the last week up and down the country, AFC Wimbledon were looking to secure a home win to move into the FA Cup third round but it was not to be as old foes Crawley Town came visiting the new stadium.

The game started brightly for Wimbledon and with 22 minutes gone a delightful cross from Ethan Chislett found Joe Pigott in the six-yard box – he could not miss with a bullet header into the net.

As too often has been seen this season the lead was not built upon and Crawley eased their way back into the game, and some eight minutes later a move and sublime finish saw them equalise.

A fine pass by Jack Powell found the free-running Ashley Nadesan, who took one touch before neatly chipping over Connal Trueman in the Dons goal.

Wimbledon came back in true cup tie tradition pegging their opponents back and a number of rash challenges later Powell entered the referee’s book for a nasty foul in added time at the end of the first half.

With barely four minutes on the clock in the second half, Crawley were in the lead through Max Watters from a close-range shot.

There were claims of handball from the Wimbledon defenders, but the protests fell on deaf ears.

The Dons responded with a period of pressure.

First up Daniel Csoka saw his header go wide from a Chislett cross, then Pigott had a fine shot from 20 yards, which the keeper turned away for a corner. Terell Thomas perhaps should have done better from the resulting corner, flashing his header wide.

The pressure petered out as the travelling and workload over the last week took its toll.

Dons manager Glyn Hodges brought on a couple of fresh legs in Ryan Longman and Jack Rudoni, but to be fair he could have changed all outfield players such was the organisation of Crawley in hanging on to their lead – to the extent that for one free-kick they had six players in the wall.

There was simply no way through for Wimbledon.

Star Man: Joe Pigott. Claimed his seventh goal of the campaign from Ethan Chislett’s cross.

Best Moment: A period of sustained pressure in the second half, which should have seen an equaliser for Wimbledon, but the ball just would not fall for the right player twice. Next time perhaps?

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