The Dons slipped to a third successive defeat this afternoon after a battling performance against promotion-chasers Southend eventually came to nothing.
In front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd of 6,952, including 811 travelling Wimbledon fans, the visitors threatened to cause an upset, before Southend won it through second-half goals from Freddy Eastwood and Anthony Grant.
Terry Brown made seven changes to the side that started against Rotherham with the most notable being a first start for Jason Prior up front alongside Byron Harrison and top scorer Jack Midson dropping to the bench.
Returning goalkeeper Seb Brown was called into action for the first time to make a save from Ryan Hall in the 18th minute, while George Moncurís low shot was easily gathered by Southend number one Cameron Belford. The visitors made a bright start at Roots Hall with the hold-up play of Harrison and Prior providing a good platform for their attacks. Harrison in particular carried the main threat to Southend and he had a clear shooting chance midway through the first-half when he latched onto a Billy Knott lay-off and struck a shot that just missed the top corner.
The Shrimpers responded by creating their first real chance with a quick break when Eastwood picked out David Martin and he sent a volley wide of the far post from an acute angle. Billy Knott showed flashes of the fine form that has made him such a favourite with the Dons faithful, particularly when he beat two men and clipped through a searching ball that Prior so nearly latched onto.
However, there was a major setback for Knott and Wimbledon in the 36th minute when the on-loan Sunderland midfielder had to go off injured and was replaced by Rashid Yussuff. As the first-half came to a close, the Dons could be fairly satisfied with their efforts with Southend having barely troubled them, though the visitors did not quite match their promising approach play with the required cutting edge. However, they did end the first-half on the front foot and Prior came close to reaching a teasing cross from Christian Jolley, before Belford only just got to a corner from Yussuff.
Wimbledon started the second-half as the more dominant side yet again with Christian Jolley causing real problems down the right after switching flanks with Yussuff. Prior, who was enjoying a full debut of real promise for the Dons, got on the end of a George Moncur pass and produced a fine curling effort that was just wide of the far post.
At this stage, it would have been easy to confuse the side chasing promotion with the one in the bottom half of the League 2 table. Terry Brown decided that Priorís hard work for the afternoon was done when he was substituted in his first start for the Dons after 63 minutes. However, that offered a chance for 18-goal top scorer Jack Midson to enter the fray with perhaps a point to prove against his old club. The visitors needed Mat Mitchel-King to come to their rescue midway through the second-half though when he produced a superb last-ditch header to stop a Ryan Hall cross from finding a Southend striker.
The pressure was starting to build as Wimbledonís defending became increasingly desperate and that eventually told in the 69th minute when the Dons failed to defend a corner. Eastwood was the man to benefit as he stooped to head home from close range after a corner had been flicked on at the back post by Mark Phillips.
Terry Brown sent on the in-form Luke Moore with 15 minutes to go, but it was Jolley who had a great chance to equalise for Wimbledon when Chris Bush sent in a blinding cross from the left that he just failed to get on the end of. However, Wimbledon struggled to create anything as an attacking force in the latter stages and the hosts sealed it in the last minute of normal time when Eastwood picked out Grant and he fired home emphatically from 25 yards.