AFC Wimbledon’s faltering league form continued at the Pirelli Stadium with a 3–2 defeat to Burton Albion that left their sizeable and vocal travelling support deflated. The Dons were always second best to a lively Burton side who regularly exposed their defensive frailties, but their hopes of snatching a point when Aaron Webster brought down James Mulley in the area were dashed by referee Tanner, who chose to award a free-kick to the home side.
Jack Midson returned to the starting line-up, with Ryan Jackson making way, as Wimbledon sought to breach one of the stronger League 2 defences. They did so twice but left pointless after their own defence gifted Burton their second goal on 29 minutes: Brett Johnson’s decision to let the ball run to Seb Brown allowed Billy Kee to nip in and calmly clip the ball into an empty net.
This was Kee’s second goal of the game – he had opened the scoring on 14 minutes when he finished a slick move that again left the Dons defence flat-footed. Had it not been for a fine save by Seb Brown to deny Adam Bolder’s header from a Burton corner, Wimbledon would have been three down inside the first half-hour.
It was something of a surprise when, in time added on at the end of the first half, Luke Moore slammed home to give the Dons a lifeline back into the game. After a fine run by Midson, which saw him upended on the edge of the box, the ball squirmed free for Moore and he did the rest, after a good decision by the referee to play the advantage.
Sadly, Midson couldn’t match Moore’s neat finishing as the second half began with a flowing Wimbledon move that should have provided an undeserved equaliser. Midson could only find the side netting, having been played in by an excellent Ricky Wellard pass from the edge of the box.
Any optimism that may have created among the Dons in the crowd faded away as Burton proceeded to create all the chances, and a third goal seemed inevitable. It arrived on 62 minutes when Bolder smashed home a volley from the edge of the box following a break from defence after a Dons attack had broken down.
Try as they might, the Dons simply could not get a toehold in the game. Burton should have had a penalty in the 74th minute when Jacques Maghoma stayed on his feet after a Dons player caught him. But somewhat unexpectedly, Wimbledon reduced the deficit eight minutes from the end of normal time when an excellent low cross from Sam Hatton was turned into his own goal by Webster.
Having been in total control, Burton now seemed nervous, getting all their players behind the ball. Substitute Lee Minshull, on for Luke Moore, had a great chance but headed wide, before the referee denied the Dons the chance to pinch a valuable point. James Mulley burst into the box with the ball at his feet and was felled by Webster, only for Burton to be awarded a free-kick for a foul by Jackson, much to the consternation of visiting supporters and the away bench.
Defeat left Wimbledon in 13th position in the League 2 table. Thoughts would now turn to the trip to Bradford’s Valley Parade and the possibility of a money-spinning Third Round FA Cup tie if the Dons could repeat their September league win over the West Yorkshire strugglers.