AFC WimbledonSport

Conor Keenan’s five takeaways from AFC Wimbledon’s late win over MK – Plough Lane moment to remember as Bugiel’s shift personifies the display

Ronan Curtis wrote his name into AFC Wimbledon folklore on Saturday afternoon as he slotted home a late 1-0 winner over Milton Keynes at Plough Lane.

Here are Conor Keenan’s five takeaways from a vital win for the Dons:


Johnnie Jackson played over 450 games of professional football before moving into management, where he has managed close to 150 in his relatively young coaching career.

And yet, it was Ronan Curtis’ rolling the ball into the corner of the Milton Keynes goal in the dying seconds which the Dons boss dubbed the best moment of his footballing career.

Jackson, along with members of the coaching staff and substitutes, belted down the sideline to celebrate with Curtis after the ball hit the net as Plough Lane erupted around them.

It is, without doubt, the best single moment for Wimbledon since their return home to the new Plough Lane. 

The new ground is a remarkable achievement in itself, not to mention the journey of the club, but there have been few memorable moments for Wimbledon fans to cherish on the pitch since they returned home in 2020.

Few things in football top a last-minute winner, but to do it in this fashion against this opposition means it’s a moment Dons fans will remember for a very long time.


The low point of this season for Wimbledon came in January after the 3-1 defeat in Milton Keynes.

Fans were enraged after a sub-par performance that saw two Wimbledon red cards and Milton Keynes stroll to victory in a match where the score-line did not do justice to the host’s domination.

An inquest followed, with Jackson and captain Jake Reeves both assuring supporters that the same mistakes would not happen again.

Jackson’s men produced a performance that Plough Lane purred over for the majority of the afternoon. It was not a flashy performance, nor one that produced many chances or stand out moments, but one in which the eleven players on the pitch poured everything they had into.

Not one player pulled out of a tackle or an aerial duel, and it was clear from the first whistle that this was going to a be a full-blooded, physical and committed Wimbledon performance.

The players got their retribution for an unacceptable away performance against a team in which fans will never accept anything less than 100 per cent commitment.


With Ryan Johnson and Joe Lewis still unavailable through injury, the Dons are light at the Back.

Eyebrows were no doubt raised an hour before kick-off when the team sheet was released.

A first Wimbledon start for John-Joe O’Toole? Is Kofi Balmer being rushed back too soon? Where on earth is Josh Neufville going to play?

Jackson deployed a back five, with Currie and Neufville as wing-backs, which felt a risk. O’Toole slotted into the middle of the three centre-backs, with Brown on his left and Balmer to the right.

The risk paid off. 

It took Milton Keynes 47 minutes to register a shot in the game, with Brown and O’Toole dominating aerial duels and starting attacks with long balls down the flanks.

Ultimately, the visitors gave Alex Bass very little to do, in large part down to the dominating performance of his back five in front of him.


If one man was to personify this Wimbledon team, it would be Omar Bugiel.

The former Sutton striker is not blessed with blistering pace or dazzling dribbling skills, and his statistics this season (seven goals in 32 league games) don’t exactly jump off the page.

But Bugiel is becoming one of Wimbledon’s most important players. The Lebanon international covered every blade of the Plough Lane pitch, receiving kick after kick and bouncing straight back up after each individual assault.

Bugiel won six fouls, gave six away, won 17 ground duels, 10 aerial duels and was running on fumes for the final 20 minutes. And yet, he kept going, eventually dragging defenders out of position to allow Curtis his clear shot at goal for the winner.

It was a brave performance by an out-of-form Wimbledon side, embodied by the performance of Bugiel up front.


Losing Ali Al-Hamadi in January was a huge blow for this team, with Josh Kelly given the difficult task of replacing the Iraqi international.

Goals are still an issue for this Dons team, and the question of where they will come from on a consistent basis remains unanswered. Despite a bright start to his Plough Lane career, Kelly

remains goalless and works off scraps in most games despite looking dangerous working off the shoulder of the last line of defence.

A lack of goals is countered by resolute, solid defensive football, which is exactly what Wimbledon provided against Milton Keynes.

Little and Reeves worked tirelessly in midfield, barely giving MK’s playmakers a second to think on the ball. The Dons made it a physical encounter, one in which ‘softer’ sides than Milton Keynes would have struggled immensely.

Saturday’s win keeps Wimbledon well in the race for the playoffs, but they will fall short if their attack continues at its current level.

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