Momentary lapse proves costly for the Dons in scrappy Bradford defeat
AFC Wimbledon (0) 0
Bradford City (0) 1 Osadebe 62
Wimbledon missed out on the chance to move into the automatic promotion places in League Two after they were caught by a sucker punch from Bradford City and former Fulham man Kevin McDonald.
The Dons had the better chances throughout a scrappy game that always looked destined to be decided by a mistake, yet it was ultimately a slip from home goalkeeper Alex Bass that allowed Bradford substitute Emmanuel Osadebe to net the winner.
The second-half strike earned McDonald his third win in a week as caretaker boss, as his side capitalised on the absence of Wimbledon talisman Ali Al-Hamadi, who was on international duty with Iraq.
The Dons still edged a scrappy first half though; producing brief moments of inspiration that irregularly threatened to break the deadlock on a bright October afternoon.
Bradford made the journey to south London on the back of wins in the league and the Papa John’s Trophy under McDonald, and their confidence underpinned a defensive resolve that rarely threatened to crack.
That meant a goal was always most likely to arrive courtesy of a mistake. James Tilley almost benefitted when a Josh Davison header was not properly cleared, only for Bradford ‘keeper Harry Lewis to keep out the snapshot that followed.
Lewis almost undid his good work on the stroke of half-time; as he rushed out of goal to meet a loose ball, his half-clearance only reached the centre circle with Tilley waiting to pounce. The Dons top-scorer stumbled as he struck his effort, allowing the goalkeeper to recover and push the ball clear from danger.
Whilst Johnnie Jackson’s side made hard work of clearing set-pieces on more than one occasion, they rarely looked like surrendering a third consecutive clean sheet despite Alex Pearce taking the place of the injured Ryan Johnson in defence.
The Dons almost profited from the one moment of genuine quality in the first 45 minutes, as Armani Little’s turn and shot was palmed away by Lewis at the end a flowing attack that proved a rare moment of entertainment for a sell-out crowd at Plough Lane.
Little also had the best chance of the second half, blazing over the bar from close range after Bradford defender Brad Halliday had inadvertently headed a Tilley pass into his path.
It was a Wimbledon mistake that decided the contest, as a stumble from Bass proved costly. Substitute Emmanuel Osadebe had been on the pitch for a matter of seconds when he raced on to an Andy Cook flick on and poked an effort towards goal that the unprepared Bass could not keep out.
Al-Hamadi’s regular strike partner Omar Bugiel almost rescued a point late on, only for his headed effort from a corner to come back off the inside of the far post. The last time Wimbledon won without their Iraqi striker in the squad came before he signed in January.
Enough time remained for Bass to redeem himself as he denied Jamie Walker from close range, yet there was no way back for Wimbledon as they fell to just a second league defeat of the season and subsequently dropped out of the play-off places.
Wimbledon: (4-4-2) Bass – Ogundere, Lewis, Pearce (Mclean), Currie – Tilley, Reeves, Little (Lakin 81), Neufville (Sasu 68) – Bugiel, Davison. Subs not used: Sandford, Kalambayi, Brown, Ball
Bradford City: (4-2-3-1) Lewis – Halliday, Platt, Stubbs, Ridehalgh – Gilliead, Smallwood – Pointon (Oyegoke 80), Walker, Wilson (Osadebe 57) – Cook (Smith 85). Subs not used: Doyle, Taylor, Afoka, Tulloch