AFC WimbledonSport

Dave Hunt-Jackson’s takeaways from AFC Wimbledon’s loss at Tranmere – more defensive howlers as busy summer ahead

AFC Wimbledon slumped to a 3-2 defeat at Tranmere on Saturday with more calamitous defending on show.

In fairness they were not helped by an early injury to Ryan McLean and a seemingly very harsh sending off of John-Joe O’Toole.

The only highlight was substitute Josh Kelly notching his first two goals for the club, both assisted by Omar Bugiel.

Here are Dave Hunt-Jackson’s takeaways from the League Two match at Prenton Park.


Isaac Ogundere has done absolutely nothing wrong all season and must be wondering how he finds himself ahead of Hus Biler in the pecking order yet still on the bench behind an on-loan centre half.

While Kofi Balmer has been impressive in the middle of defence and has the serious threat of a massive long throw – that led to the consolation second goal on Saturday – he is not a patch on either of the two homegrown players at right-back or going forward.

Ogundere will be at the club next season whereas Balmer almost certainly won’t – making this selection all the more hard to understand. In fact the only loanee not selected was the injured Alex Bass – again a player likely to be on the move – as Nik Tzanev was preferred to young Max Foulkes.

Jack Currie was the only academy-produced talent in the starting line-up and he too will almost certainly be sold in the summer as the Dons look to manage their crippling stadium debt.

There was no start either for Aaron Sasu, despite Kelly and Josh Neufville both being on the bench.

With the play-offs now mathematically unobtainable surely, the final match against Walsall at the Plough Lane tomorrow is a chance to blood a youngster or two.


Wimbledon have kept more clean sheets than anyone in League Two but continue to look vulnerable at the back. They were architects of their own downfall again with mistakes for all three Tranmere goals and, but for several good saves from Nik Tzanev, the scoreline could easily have been worse.

They end the season on a three-game losing streak away and yet it is likely that they will only miss out on the play-offs by a handful of points despite a desperately inconsistent end to the campaign. A case of what might, and indeed should, have been if ever there were.

The worry is that they have shipped six goals at Swindon and Tranmere despite having their preferred centre-half pairing of Ryan Johnson and Joe Lewis. This duo make a huge difference to the shape of the team as they are both able to play out from the back which will bear fruit and allow the likes of Kelly to play his natural game – but the individual and collective errors need to be eradicated if the South Londoners are to be serious promotion contenders next season.

Further strength at centre-back and a replacement left-back should be high on the shopping list of Dons’ head of football operations Craig Cope.


After the game manager Johnnie Jackson spoke about the progress his side has made this season – but the fact remains that his team have not performed at their best often enough this year.

Although the results and final place in the table are better than last term, so too is the squad.

Assuming the recruitment is as good as it has been under Cope, that should again mean an improvement to a squad that has a settled spine of the team with the two centre-backs, Jake Reeves and Omar Bugiel all under contract.

What has to improve next season is the level of consistency and they need to substantially better the run of three consecutive league wins that was the best they could muster this term.

After two years in the role the time has come for Jackson to ensure his team deliver the performances they are capable of on a much more regular basis. The team need to play to the strengths of what has the potential to be a potent front two.


It has been a while coming but, like the proverbial London buses, when one goal arrived for the Dons’ January signing then another was just around the corner.

His first goal was the result of fine movement and a cool finish following a great pass from his strike partner. The second a poacher’s close-range effort following a knockdown, also from Bugiel.

It’s been clear from the outset that Kelly’s strengths are his pace, ball control and the ability to create space for himself. After many frustrating games where Wimbledon have failed to play to those strengths, on Saturday everything fell for him.

With Reeves and the two centre-halves looking to move the ball forward on the floor – and Bugiel leading the line superbly as always – Kelly was in his element.

If nothing else, on the day when their frankly miniscule chances of extending the season evaporated, the travelling fans saw a glimpse of what is hopefully to come from Ali Al-Hamadi’s replacement.


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