AFC Wimbledon recorded their first ever win against Oxford United, with the U's producing their worst performance of the season at Grenoble Road this afternoon.
FULL TIME: Oxford United 1-3 AFC Wimbledon
What a difference eight days can make, eh?
After last season's televised triumphs over Bristol Rovers, Millwall and Swansea I thought that perhaps the infamous TV curse might have been broken. However, it was back with a vengeance today as Oxford United were taken to the cleaners by AFC Wimbledon live on Sky Sports.
The game seemed relatively tight up until Wimbledon's first goal. United gifted the Wombles the opportunity to show the TV cameras how good their set pieces were on 19 minutes, after giving a very cheap corner away. Darius Charles climbed highest at the far post and nodded it back across goal, leaving Tom Elliot with the simple task of guiding it into the net.
Wimbledon's opener appeared to knock the stuffing out of United, who simply went to pieces. The Wombles must have thought Christmas had come early, with Oxford gifting them the ball time after time. Lundstram, Sercombe and Raglan being the main culprits.
There was very little that Oxford could have done about the second goal. Although, there was plenty the officials could have done about it. Dean Parrett charged across the edge of the box but his touch was far too heavy, leaving Wes Thomas with the chance to gather the ball and clear. However, Parrett hadn't given it up and flung himself into a challenge which took Thomas out. Everyone froze, expecting the referee to blow up for a free kick. Well, everyone but Darius Charles who curled the ball into the top corner giving Wimbledon a 2-0 lead.
It was a shambolic decision from the referee. In fact, this was just one in a string of bad calls from Mr Deadman. Maguire's stonewall penalty claim being turned down just after the half hour mark was another one leaving the Oxford faithful dumbfounded.
United just needed to get into the dressing room and regroup but before they had the chance to do that, Wimbledon scored a third leaving the U's with an even bigger mountain to climb. Sercombe gave it away in the middle of the park, giving Reeves the opportunity to play in Barcham who calmly slotted the ball past Eastwood. 3-0 Wimbledon. Game over?
As I sat watching the latest crap half-time entertainment idea, I realised something. I was wrong. I've been spouting on here for weeks that 4-4-2 is the way to go but my traditional views on football tactics are totally wrong judging by that first half. Perhaps three in midfield is the way to go after all...
You don't have to be a genius to guess what Michael Appleton's message to those Oxford United players at half-time was. Go out there and restore some pride.
It appeared that Appleton's words might have done the trick as United started the second half brighter than they finished the first. An early goal was what we needed and we got it just three minutes after the restart.
Chris Maguire jinked into the box before fizzing a ball across the goal which was poked home by Darius Charles for the OG. Hope for Appleton's army.
However that's really as good as it got in the second half for United. We controlled the second half in terms of possession but failed to give James Shea much more to think about in the Wimbledon goal.
An almighty penalty box scramble gave United their best chance to reduce the deficit to one. A couple of headers were cleared off the line before Kane Hemmings acrobatically fired over.
The introduction of Dan Crowley made us worse if anything. For a player that is supposed to be extremely talented, I'm yet to see any evidence of it at all.
Unfortunately our performance wasn't the only thing that left me with my head in my hands. Mr Reliable Joe Skarz picked up a nasty looking injury in the latter stages of the game. With our limited options at left back, this is the last thing we needed.
A disappointing afternoon for Oxford United who have some soul-searching to do. The referee certainly played a part in the outcome but he is not the sole reason we lost that game of football. He was bad but we were worse.
The poor performers who stood out above the rest were Kane Hemmings, Liam Sercombe and Alex MacDonald.
Sercombe and MacDonald gave 100% as ever but that's not always enough. Both were consistently wasteful with the ball. MacDonald disappointed me especially because he was magnificent at Bolton but lacked quality today, in my opinion.
The worst player on the pitch though was Hemmings who had an absolute shocker. Considering we were playing direct for most of the game, the fact he didn't win a header all afternoon is pathetic. You could argue that winning aerial battles isn't really his game but he's got to make more of a nuisance of himself. He gave the Wimbledon centre-backs a day off today and that isn't acceptable.
It hurts like hell. We just have to make sure things are put right against Bradford on Saturday. I'm confident we have enough quality in the squad, it's just a shame we didn't see any of it today.
See you on Saturday.