Date: 25th August 2014 at 8:58am
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It’s the fatalism that it was going to happen. Coming off two gutsy away wins and up against a team at home point-less and without a goal, it was all expected … a banker away win on the Pools.

Wimbledon folk have come to expect the law of diminishing returns when lower-placed teams come to Kingsmeadow. The supporters endured enough of it last season, but maybe the big-name players Neal Ardley brought in over the summer would strengthen the team’s psyche and resolve to actually put to the sword sides they are expected to beat at home.

It all started encouragingly enough with Matt Tubbs putting the Dons a goal up on 11 minutes for his third league goal in four outings and the home side confidently on top of Hartlepool for the rest of the half. The inability to find a second goal would come back to haunt them.

Charlie Wyke, signed on loan by the Monkey Hangers days before the game, also returned to Kingsmeadow to haunt the Dons following his loan spell last season, grabbing the equaliser just 43 seconds after the restart.

It was a soft goal to concede as the defence failed to react after Adam Barrett’s half-clearance of a free-kick and Wyke headed home despite James Shea’s attempts to gather the ball.

From there Hartlepool’s confidence streamed back, Wimbledon were no longer in control, the murmuring home crowd sensed a momentum shift.

The unease heightened when former Nottingham Forest and West Ham United striker Marlon Harewood put the away side in front in the 68th minute, pivoting and turning home Ryan Brobbel’s cross from the right. Wimbledon were making a right mess of it.

The frustrations only deepened when Tubbs went down inside the box, but his penalty attempt in the 77th minute was well saved by goalkeeper Scott Flinders and Hartlepool scrambled the rebound to safety. Tubbs also fluffed a one-on-one chance with the keeper.

Ardley brought on substitutes Harry Pell, Kevin Sainte-Luce and Ade Azeez in the last 20 minutes to salvage the situation but Hartlepool doggedly held on for their first win of the season. Thank you Wimbledon. Groundhog Day complete.

It all came as no shock to the hard-bitten Dons supporters. After all, last season they witnessed the Dons losing to nine bottom-half teams — among them Northampton Town, Torquay United, Bury, York City and Morecambe at home — and overall are ranked 21st in matches against bottom team opposition. You can say the Dons have previous form.

Neal Ardley was equanimous about it all. No razor blades, no condemnation, no slaughtering the players. After all, it’s four games in and the Dons have seven points from four games.

“I am going to take the disappointment because it was another home game against a team down there and that was something we could not see through last season,” the gaffer proffered.

“I thought this group would be able to turn that on its head and at half-time we were on the way to doing that. When you look back on it we could have scored four or five goals today. We’ve got a group of good players who will score goals [five goals in four games so far], but they didn`t today and we cannot use that as an excuse.

“I don’t think we should be too hard on the starting 11 who have started off the season. There were some performances not up to their usual standards today and I’m not going to put it down to anything other than an off day. I don’t think we should slaughter the players for that.”

Measured words from Ardley. But one wonders how long this conciliatory approach will last if Wimbledon, given all the fans’ investment in experienced players this season, down the track continue to play bottom teams into form at Kingsmeadow?

Of course, it’s just the fourth league game of the season, the second at home, but the unravelling in the second half against Hartlepool does little to raise confidence for when the next team we are expected to beat ventures to ‘Fortress’ Kingsmeadow.

It’s bleedin’ obvious that if the Dons cannot put together a reasonable run of results at home, especially against lower teams, then they can’t expect to climb the L2 table this season on the back of their away form.

The supporters’ fatalism about Kingsmeadow games is there for a reason. Losses to teams like Hartlepool will not help alleviate that inevtablepredilection.

“Groan! We should have seen this one coming,” WDSA’s Colum McAndrew said. “With seven points from three teams fancied by many for promotion and playing lowly Hartlepool, this should have been a home win banker.

“For 45 minutes it looked that way with only the Dons rampant…… We looked tired in the second half and never looked likely to get back in the game. Still when I saw the fixtures, I’d have bitten your hand off for seven points after four games.”

And don’t expect Graham Westley’s ‘persecuted’ Stevenage to roll over next week at Kingsmeadow.

Written by Onyadon aka Rob Smith.

Rob writes the Wimbledon Downunder Supporters’ Association (WDSA) blog and lets us use this blog with his permission. To view WDSA – Click Here.

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