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Four takeaways from AFC Wimbledon’s 2-2 draw with Doncaster Rovers – Harsh lessons learnt, but loan signings are hitting the ground running

AFC Wimbledon thought they secured their second win under Johnnie Jackson following Nathan Young-Coombes’ second-half double. 

However, a late Doncaster comeback – two goals in the last six minutes of the game – punished the Dons and condemned them to a disappointing point.

Here are Edmund Brack’s four takeaways from Plough Lane:

HARSH, BUT DONS PAY THE PRICE FOR SWITCHING OFF

It would be cruel to draw comparisons between Saturday’s late demise and the defensive capitulation that reared its ugly head on 18 separate occasions last season in League One. But lapses in concentration cost Jackson’s side all three points, with complacency setting in after Young-Coombes extended their advantage.

Firstly, in the 87th minute, the inability to clear James Maxwell’s cross into the box – with Will Nightingale and Paris Maghoma both having chances to sweep away any danger – allowed Tommy Rowe to strike a sweet shot from distance past a motionless Nik Tzanev.

And with Doncaster penning the Dons into their own half deep into added time, the failure to clear back-to-back corners handed Ro-Shaun Williams the chance to head a loose ball in the box past Tzanev.

AFC Wimbledon v Doncaster Rovers SkyBet League Two, Plough Lane, 13 August 2022
Picture : Keith Gillard

The performance of the back five had been exemplary for the first 85 minutes of the match, with the trio of Alex Pearce, Lee Brown and Will Nightingale, on course to record their third clean sheet in a row. 

But the communication and calmness displayed before the ball reached Rowe in the 87th minute failed to be on show for the whole game. 

LOAN SIGNING HITS THE GROUND RUNNING

Part of the problem of last season included the inability of the loanees to adapt to first-team football in League One. 

Summer loan signings from last season, Aaron Pressley, Henry Lawerence and Dapo Mebude, ultimately never looked wholeheartedly comfortable – it was perhaps too early for their first foray into the rough and tumble of the third tier.

Four takeaways from AFC Wimbledon’s 2-2 draw with Doncaster Rovers – Harsh lessons learnt, but loan signings are hitting the ground running
AFC Wimbledon v Doncaster Rovers SkyBet League Two, Plough Lane, 13 August 2022
Picture : Keith Gillard

Whereas for Paris Maghoma, the Brentford loanee seems to have seamlessly taken to life in League Two under Johnnie Jackson.

The 21-year-old strides around the pitch as though he has been in this environment much longer than the four professional games to his name, and his passing range breaks defences and easily bypasses midfielders.

But he also has a tenacious bite – shown on Saturday as he won 100 per cent of his tackles [five].

He has already formed a partnership with George Marsh in the middle, and his all-round abilities could keep Alex Woodyard out of the side when he returns from injury next month.

JACKSON HAS DIFFERENT TYPES OF FORWARDS AT HIS DISPOSAL

With Josh Davison, Nathan Young-Coombes, Ayoub Assal and Kyle Hudlin at his disposal, Johnnie Jackson has a variety of finishes to call upon this season.

Young-Coombes has a natural instinct for the goal, which was highlighted by his second strike on Saturday when he guided Assal’s cross home with a first-time finish.

Davison worked tirelessly for the side and was cruelly denied his first goal for the club by a combination of a handball spotted by referee Ollie Yates and the linesman failing to see that his initial header crossed the line when Young-Coombes bundled home his first.

The 22-year-old ex-Charlton forward is a constant presence, something which was lacking in the second half of last season after Ollie Palmer was sold to Wrexham, and he also holds his own in the air against opposition defenders.

And Assal produced his best performance for the club this season on Saturday.

Four takeaways from AFC Wimbledon’s 2-2 draw with Doncaster Rovers – Harsh lessons learnt, but loan signings are hitting the ground running
AFC Wimbledon v Doncaster Rovers SkyBet League Two, Plough Lane, 13 August 2022
Picture : Keith Gillard

The academy graduate looked far more able to affect the game when placed just behind the strike force of Davison and Young-Coombes. Assal was handed the freedom to get on the ball and drive at the Doncaster defenders, with his pace and unpredictability causing sheer havoc at times.

NEXT SIGNINGS WILL BE CRUCIAL

With five points from the opening three games of the season, and although it could have been seven if the Dons remained composed for the final few minutes on Saturday, the unbeaten start to the season shows how much has changed at Plough Lane over the summer.

But if a shot at promotion at the first time of asking is going to be a reality, then one or two more signings could help consolidate Wimbledon’s place amongst those considered serious contenders to fight for a top spot in League Two.

It appears there is still space for another attacking midfielder and a wing-back to provide competition to the squad, with Luke McCormick looking to leave and contract talks with Paul Osew still seemingly ongoing. There are also five substitutes available to Jackson should he need to change and tinker with formation or personnel in games, but the Dons boss is yet to use more than three in the league as of yet.

With the loan signings settling in well and the experience of Chris Gunter and Alex Pearce adding vital experience, just a few more players through the door to complete the squad could set AFC Wimbledon up for a special season.

PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD

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