On Saturday, I took the trip to South Yorkshire for Doncaster’s huge home match against AFC Wimbledon. One of the reasons I attended was to hopefully watch former Accies midfielder, Ali Crawford in action. Both Doncaster and Wimbledon came into the weekends match on really poor runs. Rovers started the season well, and after speaking to a couple of fans today they all seemed optimistic about promotions chances. They had sat as high as third. However, over the last 6/7 weeks, Donny have been brutally awful and continue to keep sliding down the Sky Bet League 1 table. The hosts haven’t won in six games, losing four and drawing two, including cup competitions. They failed to beat National League North side Chorley in the first round of the FA cup last weekend, so have to do it all again at home on Tuesday evening. AFC Wimbledon have been even worse than Doncaster as of late. They did just about manage to scrape through their FA cup tie last Friday night when they scored a last minute goal through Mitchell Pinnock to beat Haringey Borough, who play in the seventh tier of English football. In League 1, The Dons have now lost their last 8 games and are on the hunt for a new manager as former boss, Neil Ardley left through mutual consent after 6 years in charge. Today was interim manager, Simon Bassey’s first game in the dug-out.
Doncaster were defeated 4-2 in the Checkatrade Trophy away to Notts County on Wednesday night. So they unsurprisingly made 8 changes for Saturdays game. The front 3 of Alfie Beestin, Alfie May and William Longbottom changed to Mallik Wilks, John Marquis and James Coppinger. Jermaine Anderson and Matty were replaced by Ben Whiteman and Herbie Kane in midfield, while Shaun Cummings, Danny Amos and Shane Blaney all dropped out, being replaced by Niall Mason, Andy Butler and Danny Andrew
AFC Wimbledon also made a couple changes from their win in the FA Cup. Will Nightingale replaced Toby Sibbick in defence. Liam Trotter started in midfield in place of Anthony Hartigan while Anthony Woodsworth replaced Joe Piggot up-front for the Dons.
The game got underway in Doncaster, with the contest beginning quite dire and boring to be fair. The only things that happened in the first 20 minutes were a couple of rough challenges, a couple of injuries and a substitute forced through a bad tackle. The game eventually began to liven up a little after 20 minutes, when a punt forward by Wimbledon keeper, Joe McDonnell beat the whole Donny defence before Kwesi Appiah latched onto the ball and found the on-running Anthony Wordsworth, but the midfielder couldn’t get a decent touch and that allowed Doncaster’s, Ian Lawlor to come and collect the ball. The next chance was a similar one and it led the scoring being opened at the Keepmoat Stadium. This time, Anthony Wordsworth drove forward being playing it to Appiah, who played it to Mitchell Pinnock. The winger skint Niall Mason, leaving him for dead as he slotted it under Lawlor to put the Dons ahead. It began to look likely that the London side might pick up their first league win since late September. The away side thrived on their first league away goal in five matches as they tried to continue to press for a second. After 31 minutes a free-kick by goal scorer, Pinnock was poorly punched away by Ian Lawlor and fell at the feet of Wordsworth, who drilled his effort wide. The home side equalised after 34 minutes and what a goal it was. After John Marquis was fouled around 30 yards from goal, Ali Crawford played a short pass to Ben Whiteman before receiving the ball back in plenty of space. The Scotsman took a couple of steps forward before curling an absolute beauty into the far right corner. Joe McDonnell in the Wimbledon net didn’t move a muscle and could only watch it curl by him. A goal of the month contender for sure. The away side did respond well however and on the 39th minute a Scott Wagstaff piledriver was fantastically tipped over by Lawlor.
Half Time- Doncaster 1-1 AFC Wimbledon
The second half did finally get into proceedings after a short delay, due a drone being flown inside the stadium, with referee Anthony Coggins refusing to start play until it was gone. The second game did start similarly to the first half with Rovers trying to play their game but were struggling to get by the big and strong Wimbledon defence. The home side did get a half-chance after 60 minutes, when some nice play down the left by Herbie Kane led to him feeding the ball into Marquis. The striker took a touch before curling an effort straight down the throat of McDonnell. After 64 minutes, their was a nervy moment for the Doncaster fans. A powerful effort by Pinnock was spilled by Lawlor after taking a wicked deflection, however the Irishman managed to get to it before the rebound could be tapped home by Appiah. The pattern was the same throughout the game, especially the second half with Rovers having most of the play but continuing to struggle to break down a well organised Wimbledon side, who looked happy with a point. Donny striker, John Marquis was really struggling to get into the game but did have another chance after 82 minutes when he was played in by Tommy Rowe. The striker should have cut the ball back earlier and his eventual cross was easily gathered. Doncaster did get their well deserved goal in the dying minutes. It was another fantastic effort. This time It was from substitute, Tommy Rowe who was playing his first minutes after being out injured for two and a half months.Ben Whiteman played a quick free-kick into Rowe’s feet from around 40 yards from goal. The substitute picked it up and drove towards goal before beating a few Wimbledon players and firing a thunderous effort into the bottom corner from just outside the penalty area. As the away side began to push forward in search of an equaliser, the home side had two great chances to kill the tie. Firstly in the 89th minute when a long ball forward found Alfie May, who took it down and cut inside and curled an effort at goal which was deflected for a corner off of Rod McDonald. The second chance was even better. This time it fell to Marquis, who looked surprised to himself onside as he found himself clean through on goal. The hard-working striker burst through on goal before unselfishly cutting it back for Alfie Beestin to tap home but the substitute curled his effort wide from 12 yards.
Full Time- Doncaster 2-1 AFC Wimbledon
Lawlor, Mason, Anderson, Butler, Andrew, Crawford(74), Whiteman, Kane, Coppinger(70), Wilks(13), Marquis
Subs- Marosi, Blair(70), May(13), Anderson, Rowe(74), Cummings, Beestin
AFC Wimbledon XI
McDonnell, Oshilaja, Nightingale, McDonald, Purrington, Wordsworth(80), Soares, Trotter, Pinnock(69), Wagstaff, Appiah(72)
Subs- King, Thomas, Hartigan, Jervis(80), Barcham(69), Sibbick, Pigott(72).
Referee- Antony Coggins
Assistants- Paul Newhouse & David Benton
Fourth Official- Thomas Bramall
Attendance- 7,843 (362 Wimbledon)
Goals- Pinnock(26), Crawford(35), Rowe(86)
Yellow Cards- Trotter(36), Wordsworth(75), Barcham(90)
Red Cards – 0