No celebrations as Blues' birthday ends in defeat
Wycombe Wanderers 0, AFC Wimbledon 1.
WANDERERS’ birthday celebrations turned into a wake as they stumbled to defeat despite Elliot Parish’s penalty save.
What should have been a day to remember for Blues fans turned into a nightmare and it was the visiting fans who went home with smiles on their faces thanks to Sammy Moore’s stunning strike.
His fierce first half effort was enough to separate the two sides and it would have been worse for Wanderers had Parish, making his home debut, not kept out Byron Harrison’s spot-kick.
Former playing heroes were paraded on the Adams Park pitch before the game and after another poor showing supporters will have been praying for someone in a blue shirt to show the ability of Keith Scott or Tony Horseman in their pomp.
Instead they were left to contemplate where exactly their side go from here, with Blues still without a home win since March and now in the Football League’s bottom four.
There were promising early signs as Jo Kuffour, who looked the most likely to create something in the first half, fed Richard Logan but he scuffed his weak effort wide of the target.
Then from a corner Gareth Ainsworth had a header blocked by visiting keeper Seb Brown and Gary Doherty was just unable to force the ball over the line from the rebound, despite the claims to the contrary from the home fans.
Back came the Dons though and they should have gone in front when Rashid Yussuff headed just the wrong side of the post after good interplay between Stacy Long and Luke Moore.
Long then saw his long range effort whistle over the bar via Parish’s fingertips as the pressure levels were cranked up.
The Dons were then given an extremely dubious penalty when a shot from a matter of feet hit Foster on the arm and a spot-kick was harshly awarded. Justice was done as Parish dived to his left to keep out Harrison’s poorly-struck penalty.
It should have been a turning point in the game: a base for Wanderers to jump forward off, but instead it just served to sting their opponents into action.
Harrison, having been denied by the Blues keeper moments before, then headed over from six yards under pressure from Parish and a succession of blocks and headed clearances kept the Dons at bay.
Eventually the pressure told and the visitors took the lead through a thunderous strike from Moore, who smashed the ball into the net off the underside of the bar from 25 yards to leave the Wycombe fans stunned.
Blues had a chance to level before the break as Logan, under no pressure, could only head Spring’s left wing delivery wide of the post as Wanderers went off to a chorus of boos.
They at least had chances as the second half opened but again Brown in the visiting goal went untested, as Dean Morgan hammered well over the bar after racing through and Ainsworth blazed off target from a corner.
Injury problems had robbed Gary Waddock of Grant Basey and potential matchwinner Joel Grant in the build-up, and they got worse as key midfielder Stuart Lewis was taken off at the break. He was replaced by Jesse Kewley-Graham.
Another change came on the hour as Lee Angol replaced Logan but it wasn’t enough to spark Blues into action.
A Wimbledon side who had conceded 18 goals in their opening seven League Two matches of the season were able to cope more than ably with the home side’s toothless attack.
They brought on a substitute of their own, Huw Johnson, and his first act was to have a shot deflect behind for a corner.
It came to nothing, but so too did any pressure that Wanderers managed to mount going forward. They never looked like responding to going a goal down against a side without a win since the opening day of the season, and the closest they came to levelling was with two minutes left. Substitute Olly Taylor nodded a cross into Kuffour’s path but he was thwarted by a superb tackle by former Wanderer Steven Gregory.
As injury time started Parish made a good save to deny Harrison when he was put through with just the keeper to beat, before Johnson dismally sent the rebound into the side netting.
Wanderers: Parish, Foster, Johnson, Doherty, Dunne, Ainsworth (sub Taylor), Lewis (sub Kewley-Graham), Spring, Morgan, Logan (sub Angol), Kuffour. Substitutes not used: Winfield, Thompson, Parsons, Morias.
Attendance: 4,260 (695 away)