AFC Wimbledon 3-1 Burton Albion
Burton Albion were the architects of their own downfall as they slumped to a disappointing 3-1 defeat away to AFC Wimbledon. They were more than holding their own against a side boasting a 100% home league record but the whole complexion of the game changed on 19 minutes when Marcus Holness needlessly got himself sent off for raising his hands to Wombles midfielder Sammy Moore. Despite the numerical disadvantage the Brewers actually went into the second half in the lead after Adam McGurk had swept in Alex MacDonald's corner on 25 minutes.
A rejuvenated Wimbledon came out for the second half and two substitutions swung the game in their favour as Chris Arthur and George Porter claimed assists as Matt Smith and Jack Midson helped overturn the deficit and a thumping header from Andy Frampton rounded off a dismal day in the capital for Burton.
Following successive home defeats to Oxford United and Portsmouth, Albion boss Gary Rowett made three changes to the starting line-up for the visit to the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
The back five unit remained unchanged with Rory Delap failing to recover from a hip injury. Alex MacDonald returned to the starting line-up on the right side of midfield as Jimmy Phillips also succumbed to injury. Robbie Weir returned to the centre of midfield to renew his partnership with Lee Bell whilst there was something of a surprise in attack where Rene Howe made way for Dominic Knowles, the youngster having impressed in his cameo substitute appearances so far this season to earn a full League debut.
With the hosts unbeaten on their own patch and Albion undefeated in the League away from home it was set for an interesting contest with both sides keen to show early attacking intent. After an initial burst of pressure from the Brewers it was the hosts who began to settle and spray the ball around with confidence trying to stretch the Albion backline.
Knowles almost capitalised on a slip from Wombles skipper Alan Bennett and after finding his partner Michael Symes he raced into the box to offer support but Symes was unable to pick him out in the centre with his cross.
What was already a difficult task before the game became even tougher on 18 minutes when Albion were reduced to ten man for the second time in three games. Referee Mick Russell gave a free kick to the home side twenty five yards out and as Albion protested there was an altercation between Sammy Moore and Marcus Holness that saw the Albion man push his opponent in the face leaving the referee with no option but to send him off. It was a huge disappointment for Dominic Knowles who was the man sacrificed from the attack to give Liam Slade an Albion debut partnering Zander Diamond at the back as Albion reorganised.
However in the face of adversity it was Albion who took the lead through Adam McGURK on 25 minutes. It was a carbon copy of his goal at Fleetwood as a corner was swung in from the Albion left by Alex MacDonald. It looked initally like a poor delivery but McGurk had come towards the near post and he whipped in a low shot that seemed to take a deflection before nestling inside the far post.
Wimbledon almost conjured up an instant equaliser with Luke Moore looping an angled header onto the roof of the net from the edge of the six yard box. They also missed another good opportunity on the half hour mark. Former Hereford midfielder Harry Pell fired in a long range shot from at least 30 yards out and with the aid of a big deflection the ball came back off Jordan Pickford who picked himself up quickly to close down Michael Smith forcing the on loan striker to drill his low effort across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
The home side continued to press but their finishing and crossing was letting them down with Pell wasting one great chance to put the Albion defence to the test with a wildly overhit cross and Sammy Moore blazing a speculative effort over the bar. Damien McCrory then played the defence into trouble allowing Moore to find Smith in the centre but his shot not only cleared the bar, it also cleared the roof of the stand behind the goal.
Albion survived a late corner in first half stoppage time but there was still plenty of work to do in the second half with Albion a man light and defending stoutly.
Half time: AFC Wimbledon 0-1 Burton Albion
Wimbledon made a double change at the start of the second half and it was Chris Arthur, coming on for Callum Kennedy who instantly came up with a driving run down the left winning his side a corner that Pickford confidently plucked out of the sky. The other change for the hosts saw George Porter replace George Francomb in midfield.
Arthur was also involved again on 49 minutes whipping in a teasing delivery that the normally deadly Jack Midson managed to steer over the crossbar from close range.
Porter was also having an effect on the opposite flank and eventually on 54 minutes the pressure from the home side took its toll. Arthur swung in a deep cross beyond the far post, Porter laid the ball back off to the edge of the box and Michael SMITH unerringly found the bottom corner of the net beyond the reach of Jordan Pickford.
Albion responded with double substitution of their own as Gary Rowett played his final cards of the game early in the second period. Rene Howe took over as the lone frontman from Michael Symes and Jack Dyer replaced Alex MacDonald to try and provide a little more defensive cover on the right side of midfield. It almost paid immediate dividends. Howe's pressure forced a corner and from Dyer's delivery Adam McGurk flicked a near post header inches wide of the far post.
Pickford then produced an excellent scrambling save as Smith caused problems again, this time with a towering header , the Sunderland stopper scrambling along his line to palm the ball to safety.
Albion's on loan England Under 19 keeper came to his side's rescue again on 65 minutes as he leapt full length to his left to push out Arthur's rasping shot from 25 yards out.
However the young keeper was at fault on 69 minutes as Wimbledon swept into the lead. Arthur had far too much time and space on the left to pick out a cross. His centre was not actually that great and Pickford should have held onto the cross but he let it out of his grasp and Jack MIDSON was on it in a flash to steer home the loose ball.
It was three for the hosts on 74 minutes as Albion failed to deal with a corner from the right. Luke Moore swung in the ball and big centre back Andy Frampton, complete with Petr Cech-like headgear, thumped his header comprehensively past Pickford.
Smith was close to a fourth on 80 minutes as Wimbledon threatened to run amok but having got above Phil Edwards at the back post his header was kept out comfortably by Pickford low down to his right.