Tzanev's hero-to-villain blunder leaves AFC Wimbledon empty-handed
AFC Wimbledon (0) 0
Fleetwood Town (0) 1 McKay 88
He was the hero the last time Dons played at home, this time Nikola Tzanev was the villain.
It was the keeper’s last-minute penalty save which helped secure a win against Northampton last time out, this time he gifted a late winner after having his attempted clearance block-tackled into the net by substitute Barrie McKay.
The keeper shaped to put his laces through the ball but then fatefully checked back and the hesitancy was gleefully pounced upon by the Fleetwood player, who had laid on the winning goal for the Cod Army when they last visited south west London. The Scot clearly has it in for the Wombles.
It is another big setback for the Dons, who would have escaped the bottom four with a win. It was also a second 1-0 Easter loss following the Good Friday defeat at Plymouth Argyle.
But in truth, they did not make a case for deserving any more than a point, as they struggled to make chances and had no shots on target in the 90 minutes.
Mid-table Fleetwood were the more polished outfit and made more openings, especially during a first-half in which their attacking midfielder Wes Burns was easily the most eye-catching player on view.
The Dons took an age to get going and only truly threatened towards the end of the first half when Jack Rudoni found Joe Pigott on the left edge of the box and his deflected cross looped up for Ryan Longman to get his head on it, but the ball cleared the bar from close range.
Then, a Longman cross to the far post was turned back into the danger zone by Nesta Guiness-walker but the lurking Pigott had his attempt on goal blocked by a defender.
The creative Burns came close three times to giving the visitors the lead.
First, he sent a low shot from outside the area that had Tzanev scrambling uncomfortably, almost allowing Ged Garner to pounce on the rebound, then, a fine through ball to Kyle Vassell forced Ben Heneghan into a clumsy challenge, for which the Dons defender was booked.
Burns’ well-struck shot from the resulting set-piece forced Tzanev into a palmed block and moments later, the New Zealander was having to get down smartly to turn aside another rasping drive from the impressive Burns.
The Wombles struggled painfully to impose themselves enough to create openings and soon after Longman had chipped over the bar from a rare shot at goal, boss Mark Robinson opted to bring Ollie Palmer off the bench in place of Pigott to try and inject a bit of devil. But to no avail.
Tzanev made an important stop to deny Vassell, the striker’s low left-footer resulting from a breakaway after the Dons had been careless in coughing up possession.
But the good work was undone in that horrible moment late on that left the keeper looking a picture of misery as he left the field – despite attempts by team-mates to console him.
Dons: Tzanev – Alexander, Heneghan, Nightingale, Guinness-Walker – Dobson – Rudoni, Oksanen – Assal (Robinson 90) – Longman (Chislett 81), Pigott (Palmer 69). Subs not used: O’Neill, Cox, Currie, Kalambayi
Fleetwood: Cairns – Hill, Connolly, Holgate (Donacien 66) – Burns, Camps, Rossiter, Batty (Finley 63), Andrew – Garner (McKay 63), Vassell. Subs not used: Coleman, Saunders, Biggins, Baggley