AFC Wimbledon’s hopes of League One football next year were all but extinguished after an appalling second half display saw them throw away all three points at Crewe Alexandra on Saturday.
Here are Dave Hunt-Jackson’s takeaways from the match.
A WOEFUL 45 MINUTES
At half time Wimbledon were cruising with a sublime strike from Sam Cosgrove putting them comfortably on course to take all three points. What happened in the interval is anybody’s guess, but the Dons came out for the second period looking half asleep and several yards off the pace.
Cosgrove handed them an equaliser as his ill-judged pass back from the halfway line found Mikael Mandron, who easily slotted past Nik Tzanev before Christopher Long was given all the time in the world in the visitors area and duly fired the home side in front. It was a second half performance against an already relegated and very poor Crewe side that is hard to comprehend given the displays against Sheffield Wednesday and last Saturday in particular.
THE LACK OF A TARGETMAN STILL A HUGE ISSUE
Cosgrove and Ayoud Assal looked what they were – a makeshift front two. It is both a credit to Zach Robinson and an indictment on the Dons’ recruitment up front that the 19-year-old was missed so much.
Cosgrove has struggled to make much impact since arriving in January and he is certainly no Ollie Palmer. Both he and Joe Pigott have not been replaced.
Although Robinson may well thrive in League Two next year, his team look in desperate need of a couple of other strikers in addition to him and Aaron Cosgrave, also currently injured.
YET MORE POINTS DROPPED FROM A WINNING POSITION
AFC Wimbledon’s frailties when they are in front emerged yet again.
Last week it took a stunning strike from a side in the promotion places to peg them back and the fighting point they earned should have been a springboard for the relegation fight. At Crewe they simply folded like a pack of cards. There was an eerie parallel with Cosgrove’s personal contribution. A wonder strike should have been the confidence booster that allowed the Birmingham City loanee to push on and discover some real winning form. Instead he gifted the lead he had given the Dons right back to their Cheshire hosts with a terrible backpass.
IT’S HARD TO SEE HOW THE DONS BOUNCE BACK FROM THIS
Players and manager alike have insisted that belief is no an issue despite a winless run that stretches back to December. Despite the support of 652 visiting supporters in a crowd of 4,668, the players’ heads hit the floor as the equaliser went in and only substitute Egli Kaja, with an excellent cameo, looked to have any real belief that his team could turn things around.
Play-off chasing Wycombe visit Plough Lane on Monday and manager Mark Bowen has somehow to conjure a winning performance from a group of players that looked totally shellshocked as they trudged off the pitch – and he has very little time to do it.
PICTURES: LUCY DIXON