Kingsmeadow Hoodoo Strikes Wimbledon Again

Wimbledon 1 v Carlisle 3

They come, they see, they conquer. It was an all-too-familiar story at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (17 January) as Wimbledon tasted defeat at the hands of yet another struggling team, with Carlisle United the latest to benefit from the Wimbledon’s generosity as they chalked up a 3-1 win.

Many of those previous defeats have been at least partly the result of timid Wimbledon performances, yet on Saturday the Dons dominated throughout and still contrived to lose.

‘We had 22 attempts at goal compared to their seven and we did everything bar score after our early goal,’ frustrated boss Neal Ardley told the club’s Dons Player service afterwards.

‘I cannot fault the players for their energy and effort today.

‘We lost the game because we did not take our chances in one box and at the other end we did not defend with enough aggression, nous or cleverness.’

And yet it all started so well for Wimbledon, who took the lead after just a minute. Sean Rigg released Callum Kennedy down the left, and his first-time cross found Adebayo Akinfenwa in the box, who slipped his marker to steer home his 11th goal of the season.

The home side continued to push forward and keep Carlisle on the back foot, with Adebayo Azeez almost converting a George Francomb corner and Jake Reeves – making his home debut after his move from Swindon Town – surging forward and releasing a fierce effort from 30 yards that visiting keeper Mark Gillespie was grateful to gather.

Completely against the run of play, Carlisle equalised just after the quarter hour. The Dons gave away a tame free-kick just outside their area and from Kyle Dempsey’s deliver Sean O’Hanlon rose highest to head home emphatically.

But conceding barely seemed to knock Wimbledon out of their stride. Akinfenwa twice went close to doubling his tally, first with an improvised backwards header from a Francomb cross that hit the crossbar, and then by forcing a fingertip save from Gillespie.

And it was the same story of Wimbledon pressure after the break, with Akinfenwa narrowly heading wide, before suddenly the Dons found themselves behind as Carlisle scored with their first worthwhile attack of the half. Steven Rigg it was who headed home the goal, capitalising on a cross from Courtney Meppen-Walter to make it 2-1.

Still Wimbledon maintained the upper hand, with Azeez having a strong penalty claim turned down after being bundled over by Troy Archibald-Henville. The introduction of substitutes Alfie Potter and veteran striker David Connolly – both appearing in Wimbledon shirts for the first time after rejoining the club – helped maintain the momentum but still the equaliser would not come.

Connolly almost saw immediate reward for his lively running off the ball but just failed to latch on to Francomb’s through ball, while Jake Goodman had an effort cleared off the line with Akinfenwa just off target with the follow-up.

And the chances continued to be chalked up, with Gillespie pulling off a save from Barry Fuller, while Francomb also curled an effort just off target. And Akinfenwa again went close, heading inches wide from Connolly’s cross and then forcing another good save from Gillespie.

And then, right at the end, the sucker punch as Carlisle got their third. Dempsey had a firm shot from outside the box blocked by James Shea, but substitute David Amoo reacted quickest to make it 3-1 to the visitors. It was a scoreline that misrepresented the balance of play considerably.

The Dons will be hoping to exorcise the Kingsmeadow hoodoo when they entertain Accrington Stanley next weekend (Saturday 24 January) before making the long trip to Morecambe the following weekend.

Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Kennedy, Reeves (Nightingale 89), Oshilaja, Goodman, Sean Rigg (Potter 65), Bulman, Azeez (Connolly 65), Akinfenwa, Francomb. Subs not used: Moore, Pell, McDonnell, Harrison.

Goalscorer: Akinfenwa 1.

Carlisle United: Gillespie, Grainger, Archibald-Henville, Sweeney (Beck 95), Meppen-Walter, Dempsey, Steven Rigg (Asamoah 74), Potts (Amoo 83), Young, O’Hanlon, Griffith. Subs not used: Thirlwell, Gillies, Brough, Hansford.

Goalscorers: O’Hanlon 16, Steven Rigg 56, Amoo 90.

Booked: Grainger 71, Young 87.

Att: 4,186

By Rob Crane

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January 17, 2014