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Lewis off as Blues beaten
AFC Wimbledon 1, Wycombe Wanderers 0.
STUART Lewis was sent off as Wanderers’ first awayday of the season ended in defeat at Kingsmeadow.
The Blues skipper’s dismissal started a miserable couple of minutes for Wanderers fans as the game’s only goal followed shortly after referee Gavin Ward deemed his midfield challenge on George Porter to be worthy of a straight red card.
Luke Moore glanced home minutes after Lewis had seen red, in a game that had hitherto seen a dearth of chances at either end.
Wycombe pressed hard for an equaliser after the break but the home side packed the defence and were able to hold out against the ten men.
Wanderers shaded the second half but in truth Dons keeper Ross Worner was largely untested despite Blues upping the ante.
His opposite number Matt Ingram continued to add to his growing reputation as he showed sharp reflexes early on to parry away Porter’s hit.
The Dons pressed and harried without showing any great quality early on, and on the occasions when they did manage to get in behind the visiting defence Leon Johnson was in the right place to clear the danger.
Josh Scowen’s shot from distance was always destined to miss the target in a first half of few clear cut chances, although Blues’ sizeable visiting contingent were angered Dean Morgan – booed throughout by the home fans as a former MK Dons player – wasn’t given a penalty when he went over in the box.
Indeed it appeared as though the biggest talking point of the first half came on the half hour as one of the on-pitch sprinklers accidentally burst into life, temporarily holding up play.
Morgan did volley over from a narrow angle as Blues started to show signs they were getting a grip on the game.
Just as Wanderers fans given reason to feeling optimistic, though, their chances were given a hammer blow as Lewis was shown a straight red for a midfield challenge on Porter.
Then came an even more crushing blow for the visitors as the Dons took the lead when Callum Kennedy sent over a peach of a cross from the left that was turned home by a deft flick of Moore’s neck as his header crept out of the reach of Ingram and into the net.
Blues responded as keeper Ross Worner made his first save of the day in blocking Jon-Paul Pittman’s shot from a narrow angle with his feet, before flattening the Wycombe striker in his efforts to retain the ball as it looped up into the air.
Lewis’s dismissal led to a half time reshuffle as Gareth Ainsworth replaced Sam Wood with Matt Spring to give his midfield a more balanced look but the first shot of the half – Morgan’s daisycutter from 25 yards – was easily fielded by Worner.
The Dons looked to make their numerical advantage pay as former Wanderer Alan Bennett’s flicked header worried the visiting defence, who couldn’t clear their lines and were relieved Andy Frampton’s shot didn’t have the power or direction to cause Ingram too many problems.
Wycombe’s cause wasn’t helped by some strange refereeing decisions as Pittman was penalised when Worner dropped a high ball despite not being close enough to put in a challenge, before Barry Fuller won a free kick by bouncing off Morgan as he tried to tackle the Wanderers striker in full flow.
Morgan’s protests drew a yellow card from referee Ward, but he had every right to be angry at a shocking decision.
Bennett expertly headed clear with Pittman waiting to pounce and the Blues striker was out of luck again as his shot from inside the box was blocked by a defender, as Wanderers had the better of the second period without managing to force a save from Worner.
Spring had a shot blocked by Peter Sweeney before Pittman burst through, but his finish lacked composure as it went across the face of goal without worrying the home keeper.
Desperately searching for an equaliser, Ainsworth replaced his front two as Tuesday’s goalscorer Jo Kuffour – who netted on his last outing at Kingsmeadow – and Steven Craig replaced Pittman and Morgan.
Almost immediately both had to go off for treatment as they clashed heads challenging for a lofted free kick into the box, which resulted in the ball going harmlessly out for a goalkick.
But a blocked Scowen shot and an injury time effort from Spring that bounced through to Worner from long range was all Wanderers had to show for their efforts as they failed to break through the massed ranks of the home defence.
In stoppage the Dons should have wrapped things up as Michael Smith was firstly denied by Anthony Stewart's excellent tackle, then by Ingram's save, before colleague George Francomb fired over.
Then substitute Chris Arthur came even closer to a second as he struck the post from out wide.
Wanderers: Ingram, McCoy, Stewart, Johnson, Dunne, Cowan-Hall, Scowen, Lewis, Wood (sub Spring), Morgan (sub Craig), Pittman (sub Kuffour). Substitutes not used: Horlock, Hause, Kretzschmar, Arnold.
Attendance: 4,235 (612 from Wycombe)
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