Date: 24th August 2014 at 11:25am
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Hartlepool went into this game on the back of four consecutive defeats having conceded 11 so far this season (although 6 of those were against League One Port Vale in the Capital One League Cup). The Dons by contrast were going into the game unbeaten in the league and looking the form team. Perhaps therefore the outcome was inevitable.

Watching the first half of today’s game, last season felt a million years ago. It’s just a shame that the second 45 thrust you right back to the depths of recent seasons’ woes. But it really shouldn’t have been so. In truth, the Dons dominated the play, possession and chances in the first half to such an extent that they really should`ve been 3 or 4 up by half time.

Wimbledon were unchanged for the third successive game, with Smith still not fully fit enough to return to action, while the Monkey Hangers introduced recent loan signing and former Wombles loanee Charlie Wyke.

The Dons started brightly and were in front after just 10 mins when in-form Matt Tubbs turned neatly and finished from the edge of the box. (A Wimbledon goal in the first half hour? Last season really did feel like a distant memory at that point!) It was no less than they deserved and the chances continued. Minutes later Sean Rigg who looked very lively latched onto a loose ball in midfield, nodding it on and volleying just over the post. Barry Fuller hit the bar with a volley from wide and Adebayo Akinfenwa really should have done better when given the chance to shot in the box before the break.

If any of those chances had gone in I’d suggest the result may well have been very different but, despite their early dominance, the Dons went in at the break only one goal ahead and needed to start the second half switched on. They didn’t and we’re pegged level immediately after the restart by one of the sloppiest of goals, although the goal really should have been chalked off for a foul on the ‘keeper.

Shea probably should have done a lot better with the free kick but was unable to claim the ball through a crowd of players in the box leaving Charlie Wyke of all people to score at Kingsmeadow, something he didn’t manage in three months on loan here last season. Whether the displaced Worner would have let himself get blocked off from the ball quite as easily bears further reflection.

It’s not clear whether the Dons were incoherent in the second half as a result of the early goal or whether conceding early was merely a symptom of the Dons’ incoherent restart but with Hartlepool increasing the tempo and outmuscling them throughout, not to mention winning every single header in the middle of the pitch, Wimbledon were second best. They conceded again midway though the second half, shortly after bringing in Pell and Saint-Luce in an attempt to regain the momentum.

Neal Ardley brought on a third striker and switching 3-4-3 in an attempt to chase the game but in truth the move limited the Dons’ attack with less width going forward and Barry Fuller’s runs restricted as a third centre-back. Although Tubbs managed to buy himself a penalty with 15 mins to go but for some reason, despite the prolific Matt Tubbs stepping up, you never quite felt confident about it. Whether it was a poor penalty or a great save I’m not sure but one things for certain a certain Jack Midson would definitely have tucked it away to set us up for a point (he says, tongue firmly in cheek!!)

The Dons had chances late on with Tubbs coming closest but ultimately as wasteful as Rigg and Akinfenwa and you never really felt it was going to happen for them.

I’m not sure what to think about today’s offering overall. The first half was slick smooth creative dominant, but then again Hartlepool were low on form and confidence so that should all have been expected, whereas the second half was disappointingly poor particularly after the positive start and really makes you wonder whether we have actually improved from last season at all. Stevenage are next up at home for the Dons and we’ll see whether today’s second half was merely a blip or whether we really need to reassess our expectations for this season.

First things first, another 47 points still to get…

Marks out of 10:
Shea 5
Fuller 7
Kennedy 7 (Azeez 5)
Bulman 6
Bennett 6
Barrett 7
Francomb 6 (Sainte-Luce 6)
Moore 6 (Pell 5)
Akinfenwa 5
Tubbs 8
Rigg 7

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