AFC Wimbledon undone because Rochdale's Hogan knows best
AFC Wimbledon suffered their worst league defeat at the Cherry Red Records Stadium since December 2012 as promotion chasers Rochdale scored three in 16 second-half minutes.
A stunning hat-trick from Scott Hogan buried Neal Ardley’s side 3-0 in what was a feisty encounter, where the Dons only mustered one effort on target.
The defeat drops Wimbledon down to 12th in the League Two table, nine points from both the play-off places and the relegation zone, with 16 games to play.
The away side settled and dictated the early play – able to pass the ball out from the back along the wet turf – but Wimbledon had the best chance of the first half after 10 minutes.
Charlie Wyke headed over from inside the six-yard box from Harry Pell’s angled delivery from near the left side corner flag.
Ardley made two changes to the team that went down to Oxford United in the week, bringing in Chris Arthur and George Francomb for Jim Fenlon and the injured Will Antwi.
His team, though, set up in a 3-5-2 was dealt a blow after 27 minutes as midfielder Sammy Moore was taken off after a knock to the head – he received treatment off the pitch on two occasions before eventually leaving the field for good for winger Kevin Sainte-Luce.
The change to 4-4-2 left Wimbledon open and vulnerable through the middle but they got to the break on terms.
The home side had one great chance in the second half, as Wyke rounded keeper Josh Lillis after Ashley Eastham’s poor back pass but tangled with strike partner Danny Hylton, before allowing the recovering Dale defenders to clear.
From the 66th minute, though, it was Hogan knows best.
His first, a header, came from a cross on the left side, he beat Ross Worner to the ball nodding just under the cross-bar.
Tough times: George Francomb and his Dons mates went down 3-0 at home to Rochdale
For the second, George Francomb was dispossessed in the middle and former Aldershot Town man Peter Vincenti split the defence with a perfectly weighted through-ball, Hogan latched onto it and rounded Worner before slotting into an empty net.
The third was spectacular - a long ball down the right flank, Hogan caught it first time on the edge of the penalty area, delicately looping over the on-rushing Worner to finish the game with eight minutes to play.
Weather permitting the Dons head to south Wales on Tuesday to take on Newport County at Rodney Parade, before the trip to Portsmouth on Saturday.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner, Barry Fuller (Fenlon 67), Chris Arthur, Aaron Morris, Darren Jones, Alan Bennett, Sammy Moore (Sainte-Luce 27), Harry Pell, Charlie Wyke, Danny Hylton (Sheringham 75), George Francomb.
Subs: Seb Brown, Luke Moore, Jack Midson.