This 2–0 defeat to promotion-chasing Swindon Town left Terry Brown needing to weave more January transfer magic if Wimbledon are to retain their Football League status for next season.
This time last year, Brown made key signings to help the Dons to the finish line and promotion. From this sixth successive league defeat, it was clear that the Dons need fresh impetus to a squad that looks low in confidence and in danger of slipping closer to the relegation zone. The effect of such a morale-sapping run was evident as the visitors, winless in 11 matches before this trip to the County Ground, crumbled after falling behind.
From the kick-off, Wimbledon looked more solid in a 4–1–4–1 formation and were holding their own against their promotion-chasing hosts, but once Paul Caddis’s low free-kick found a way past Seb Brown, the visitors’ heads dropped.
Swindon hit the woodwork four times as they laid siege to their opponents goal, eventually settling the contest 12 minutes from time when Alan Connell, who scored against the Dons in their 1–1 draw at Kingsmeadow in November, swept home from 12 yards.
Charles Ademeno, making his first start since November, struggled to make an impression and was replaced ten minutes into the second half by Jack Midson. Swindon took the lead soon after, and Lee Minshull was then pushed forward as a makeshift target man as the Dons switched to 4–4–2 to try and get back into the game, but to no avail.
Ademeno was one of seven changes to the side that lost to Southend on New Years’ Eve. In defence, Jamie Stuart, Sam Hatton and Mat Mitchel-King were rested, replaced by Brett Johnson, Fraser Franks and Callum McNaughton, while Max Porter, James Mulley and Lee Minshull came in for the suspended Jolley and the injured pair of Luke Moore and Ricky Wellard.
However, Porter lasted just 13 minutes before an ankle injury saw him replaced by Brendan Kiernan. The youngster’s performance was one of few positives for the Dons, who despite the changes, succumbed to familiar failings. Their standard passing game was too easily countered by their hosts, who also looked far more dangerous with their set-pieces.
Simon Ferry saw his header rebound from the post from a Matt Richie corner, with the Dons defence slow to react to the danger. Jonathon Smith (twice) and Connell also tested the strength of the woodwork. Substitute Paul Benson brought the best out of goalkeeper Brown late on as Wimbledon struggled to get out of their own half.
With no game the following Saturday, the Dons would now have time to regroup before their trip to Port Vale in mid January and the search for their first point in six games and their first win in 12.