July 4, 2022

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Four takeaways from AFC Wimbledon’s 1-0 loss at home to Cambridge United – 21 games without a win, five defeats on the bounce and forgetting how to grind out draws should be the bigger concern

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An Adam May strike from distance gave Cambridge United all three points on Saturday and saw AFC Wimbledon extend their winless run to 21 games.

Here are Edmund Brack’s takeaways from Plough Lane:

TWENTY ONE WITHOUT A WIN

It was 110 days ago when AFC Wimbledon last won a game of football.

Since Ayoub Assal and Luke McCormick scored the two goals in the win at Accrington Stanley in early December, the Formula One season has ended and started up again, Tom Brady retired from NFL and reversed his decision, and Watford have probably had three different managers.

Hope is the thing that kills you, and considering Cambridge arrived in South London without a win in five and the players accused of already planning their holidays when the season ends next month, there was a real chance at Wimbledon reigniting their survival fight.

Ultimately, in a game that lacked the quality of a League One clash, the one moment of brilliance decided all three points.

Adam May, who joined Lincoln City’s Lewis Fiorini in having the freedom of Plough Lane, picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and, with little pressure, cracked a shot from distance past Nik Tzanev.

Despite many thinking that Wimbledon rolled over on Saturday and let Cambridge all but secure their League One status for next season, the Dons were the better side in the contest but fell to the constant problems that have plagued them over recent months.

Wimbledon went close a handful of times in the first half, and Cambridge struggled to find a way past the back five Robinson deployed. But when they failed to once again capitalise on a bright start, a familiar tale, the nerves reverberated around Plough Lane and seeped through to the players.

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While it took for something special to get past Wimbledon’s defence, the inability to create chances and the sheer ease at which the confidence drained from the side was their downfall.

The Dons failed to register a single shot at goal in the second half, and their frailties in front of goal could cost them their place in the third tier.

COULD OSEI YAW BE THE SAVIOUR?

Could a forward who was set to head to Norway before signing for the club just over a week ago be the figurehead for the remaining seven games of the season?

Derrick Osew Yaw was instrumental in the Dons’ bright start on Saturday.

He nearly had the dream start when he picked up Jack Rudoni’s intelligent flick inside the centre circle and drove towards goal with the Cambridge defence back-peddling.

However, with the 23-year-old last starting a game more than a year ago, in February 2021, his match-rustiness hindered his end product.

Osei Yaw closed in on goal, with Alex Woodyard in support, but he was in two minds about whether to set up the Wimbledon captain or shoot himself. His shot was eventually blocked.

He went close again in the 29th minute when Woodyard clipped the ball back into the area, but his header was glanced just wide of the post.

While he faded during the second half due to his lack of match fitness, Osei Yaw was a physical presence, a direct threat and brought the best out of Sam Cosgrove in the first half.

He won four aerial battles and immediately linked up with those around him.

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BEN HENEGHAN DESERVES A NEW DEAL

Should AFC Wimbledon stay up, then getting Ben Heneghan secured on a new deal should be a priority.

The 28-year-old centre-back does not deserve to be on the losing team every week, and his level of performance and his efforts are becoming even more gargantuan as he tries to keep the Dons in games.

Making nine clearances on Saturday – a match-high – Heneghan reliably produced an assured performance.

He has been one of Wimbledon’s most consistent players this season, and he deserves to be rewarded for his efforts.

SEVEN GAMES TO GO 

Just the 630 minutes of football remain for AFC Wimbledon to secure their future in League One.

Despite the stark stat being that Wimbledon have been without a win in 21 games in all competitions, they have lost their last five games, only scored one goal and forgotten how to grind out draws.

The players have to take confidence from the fact that they are still within a chance of survival despite recording the worst winless run in the EFL this season and use it as a motivating factor against those who have written them off already.

Games against Charlton and Accrington – both teams with nothing to play for – should be a great chance to pick up three points, and the penultimate game against Fleetwood is set to define the season.

But if any team is going to shrug off the adversity  and use the underdog mentality to pull off survival, it’s AFC Wimbledon.

PICTURES: LUCY DIXON

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