More disastrous defensive mistakes led the Dons to their second consecutive league defeat of the campaign, this time at the hands of sharp-shooting Worcester. Marco Adaggio put the hosts in front inside sixty seconds exploiting a woeful back pass. Craig Wilding extended City’s lead heading home on 15 minutes. Just as the Dons were forging their way back into the contest, Jamie Price was given licence to shoot from the edge of the box and duly made it three.
Tom Davis got one back for the visitors before half time and Sam Hatton would give the large contingent of travelling Wombles hope with a second half header. Unable to force the issue after a raft of substitutions on both sides, the Dons couldn’t generate further opportunities until late in the game with Kedwell missing the best on offer. On the edge of their seats for most second period Loyals fans would be delighted to see their side hold out.
Dons boss Terry Brown was able to recall Alan Inns. That shifted Jake Leberl into central midfield and Sam Hatton took on Tony Finn’s role behind a front two of Main and Kedwell.
Worcester manager Richard Dryden changed from his usual 4-3-3 system to a more solid 4-4-2 bringing Price into the middle with Dave Bampton and benching the more attacking Matt Dinsmore.
Expecting to defend for their lives, City couldn’t believe their luck fifty seconds in, when Kenndy Adjie’s sloppiness required some clearing up and Jake Leberl’s attempt to head back to keeper only made things worse with Adaggio galloping into the box untracked and slamming the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
Sam Hatton and Jon Main almost replied instantly but Daniel McDonnell was well placed in the Worcester goal for both shots.
Adaggio earned Worcester a corner and Wilding headed Price’s right wing delivery just past the post. The big forward had the ball in the net shortly afterwards when James Pullen spilled Price’s 30-yard drive, but it was ruled out for offside.
The Dons continued to live dangerously. Alan Inns threw himself in front of a Rob Davies shot, but the home side looked like they had more goals in them. They duly delivered a second when Ben Judge found himself back-pedalling to deal with Ollie Barnes’ free kick from half way and Wilding rose to loop his header over Pullen and into the net.
The visitors finally woke up and started to make a battle of it. Hatton and Kedwell worked an opening for Jon Main but he volleyed over from close range. Hatton then drilled just past the post from 25 yards out following a good run.
Worcester offered the perfect riposte with the Dons backline imploding once again. Wilding burst into space down the left and his cross for Adaggio broke for Price on the edge of the area who hammered the ball in off the inside of the left hand post.
Wimbledon’s attack continued to probe for weaknesses in the City defence and was getting a surprising amount of success with aerial ball into the box and the channels. Hatton’s free kick from the left wasn’t dealt with and Main flicked on to Kedwell who couldn’t quite guide his header inside the post.
Right on the half hour the visitors got one back. Hatton was again involved lofting the ball to the back stick for Main who kept it in play and found Tom Davis in support. The midfielder was clipped by a defender but kept his feet and curled the ball past McDonnell to give the way fans behind the goal some hope.
Kedwell bustled past full back Shabir Khan and crossed for Hatton but he was always leaning back and headed well over.
Before half time City won a free kick 25 yards out but Pullen saw Rob Davies’ effort all the way.
Before the game the Worcester News had pronounced that winger Matt Dodd was injured and would miss out. This was clearly not the case when he entered the fray for defender Khan at the start of the second period. Dodd played wide right moving Davies into the centre of midfield and shifting Price – a player who had controlled the game up to that point - to left back.
Terry Brown made his own half time switch, sending out a clear message to push for goals by sacrificing Jake Leberl for Tony Finn.
Worcester keeper McDonnell was first back in action palming Kedwell’s close range attempt away after a good interchange between Main and Adjie on the right.
Moments later, City went up the other end and nearly got a fourth. Wilding sprinted down the right, providing an inch perfect cross for Dodd who connected well but was denied by Pullen at full stretch diverting the ball against the post.
With the game wide open and switching from end to end, the Dons got themselves right back in it on 54 minutes when Sam Hatton arrived at the back post to power home a Chris Hussey’s dead ball delivery from the left.
Moments later Worcester were given another good free kick opportunity but Davies drove over the bar.
Kedwell and Adjie combined to forge a shooting opportunity for Main but his half volley was straight at the keeper. Main and Garrard created a similar chance for Kedwell but McDonnell was well positioned and clawed the ball away at his near post.
As the match ticked past the halfway point in the second period, Adjie put Main in on goal but the striker ballooned high and wide with colleagues in support.
Worcester chief Richard Dryden decided to stem the ever increasing tide of Dons attacks, fighting fire with fire and introducing the attacking Dinsmore for midfielder Bampton. The switch almost paid instant dividends with Dinsmore getting in behind the Dons back line but finding Pullen alert to the danger.
Adaggio blew another opportunity to put the game out of reach breaking at pace down the left but going alone when Dinsmore and Dodd were better placed and outnumbering their markers. Pullen saved well low to his right but the home fans sensed that this was the moment they should have buried their visitors.
Terry Brown decided to shake things up throwing on Belal Aiteouakrim, but he replaced Jon Main and, with that, effectively nullified what threat the Dons had posed in the channels. Finn’s inclination to run with the ball had made little impact up to that point and Aiteouakrim would sadly offer little more.
Another Worcester corner caused mayhem in the box. Adaggio’s header was goal bound but Pullen made a smart stop low to his right.
With eight minutes to go Garrard and Hatton engineered a cross for Kedwell, but the former Grays striker’s headed over the bar. Three minutes later the Dons spurned their best chance to take something from the match. Tom Davis fought his way to the by-line, crossing to the back post. Alan Inns was running in on it with the goal at his mercy, but he clearly didn’t communicate this to Kedwell who jumped in front of the centre half and nodded high from three yards. It wasn’t to be Danny’s day, putting another chance wide this time from Hatton’s industry on the right flank.
The Dons made a habit of late goals earlier in the campaign. Three minutes into stoppage time, Adjie had Worcester fans’ hearts in mouths when he drove millimetres wide of the right hand post from 25 yards.
Last season AFC Wimbledon could be defined by a rock solid defence and a misfiring strike force. Now they can boast an attack that hasn’t failed to score in a league match this season, but a back line that comes bearing gifts on a weekly basis. The Dons showed immense reserves of character to make a contest of a match that, at one point, was looking like a full-on thrashing. Indeed, there were spells in the second period when they ran Worcester ragged. But giving any Blue Square South opponent a three goal start will almost inevitably lead to defeat, no matter how spirited the response or how well the Dons end up playing.