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Wombles hit rock bottom after Oxford hammering

17:36 29 December 2012

AFC Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire

AFC Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

League Two: AFC Wimbledon 0 Oxford United 3

AFC Wimbledon are bottom of the Football League for the first time in their short history after a holiday hammering at a wet Kingsmeadow.

The Dons, whose previous two League Two games were postponed due to waterlogged pitches, fought hard to get this game on with a team of 20 volunteers working to avoid a third straight washout.

But after this often tepid and dismal performance, the volunteers may well wish they hadn’t bothered. Wimbledon, who started the day three goals better off on goal difference than Bristol Rovers, whose own game was washed out, saw that advantage wiped out by this excellent away display from United, who have never conceded a goal in three games at Kingsmeadow.

Oxford started the brighter and it was something of a surprise that they took until the 32nd minute to take the lead. After influential midfielder Alfie Potter had already squandered several chances with close range shots, their first goal was one straight from the training ground. Top scorer Tom Craddock, who had a good chance to shoot himself, instead slipped a cute ball through to Sean Rigg, and the unmarked midfielder fired into the roof of the net from close range.

A one-goal lead became two very quickly with Potter getting his just rewards. From a James Constable cross, Potter – one of the smallest players on the pitch – somehow managed to head over both home keeper Neil Sullivan and two Wimbledon defenders, both of whom just failed to scoop the ball clear on the line.

Whatever manager Neil Ardley said at half time clearly inspired the home side, who dominated the opening 15 minutes of the second period. Rashid Yusseff could have had a hat-trick himself, but a goalmouth scramble somehow failed to lead to one goal back - Yusseff’s header being cleared off the line by Wright and his clearance hitting the crossbar on its way out.

But Oxford saved the sucker punch and game-clinching third for the 64th minute. A poor back header by Stacy Long allowed Craddock time and space to cooly shoot under Sullivan.

With 20 minutes remaining, Wimbledon gained a glimmer of hope when Oxford were reduced to ten men. Constable was sent off for an apparent elbow on Will Antwi to the general consternation of the Oxford entourage, but the Dons failed to produce a consolation goal that would have saved them the ignominy of bottom place.

Substitute Jason Prior, making his first league appearance since a leg break at Crawley last April, twice had half chances with headers from corners, but on both occasions the ball was comfortably gathered by Ryan Clarke. And when a header finally eluded Clarke in the last minute, Michael Duberry was on hand to show his former Premier League class and boot the ball to safety.

Oxford are now unbeaten in nine and are comfortably climbing the League Two table. For sorry Wimbledon, the January transfer window is critical to their continued membership of the Football League.

AFC Wimbledon: Sullivan, Osano, Antwi, Mambo, Cummings, Yusseff (Jolley), Ajala (Kiernan), Long, Meades, Midson, McCallum (Prior)

Attendance: 4,401 (745 from Oxford)

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