Whilst World Cup qualifiers have given English football’s top two tiers the week off, the lower leagues continued with almost full sets of fixtures.
One of League One’s ten matches over the weekend saw AFC Wimbledon lose to one of the division’s newly promoted sides Blackpool.
The Seasiders have made a good start to the season, having won three and lost one of their opening five games, exceeding expectations as one of the favourites for relegation. Interestingly, they have so far out performed all three of Doncaster Rovers, Plymouth Argyle and Portsmouth, who were promoted ahead of them from League Two.
Wimbledon have now lost three of their league games and are one of four clubs currently sat just a single point above relegation at this early stage.
Here are three things that The Boot Room learnt from the game:
Sean Longstaff is too good for League One
Signed on loan from Newcastle United, Sean Longstaff has hit the ground running in Tangerine. The 19-year-old netted the winner on Saturday and now has four goals from as many starts in the league, proving instrumental in all three of Blackpool’s home victories.
The scoring record, despite being over a short period, is remarkable for a midfielder, particularly one so young. Not only has he been finding the net, but he has done so in style and Saturday was no different.
Following a long-ball from goalkeeper Ryan Allsopp and a flick-on, Longstaff collected the ball and charged into Wimbledon’s penalty area, holding off three defenders and swivelling to find the bottom corner.
Seeing Longstaff on the score sheet was no surprise and the effort was a worthy follow-up to his successive League One goal of the week’s – both thunderous strikes from range.
Blackpool are solid at home
Blackpool have now played three times at home this season, securing a maximum nine points and conceding just once in the process. Although two of the wins, including Saturday’s, have been 1-0 score lines, they showed against Wimbledon an ability to dominate a game.
Aside from a brilliant Allsopp save to deny Cody McDonald at the end of the first-half, the Dons rarely threatened and found themselves restricted to few opportunities.
On the other hand, Blackpool were unfortunate not to score at least a second and were denied by the post a couple of times in the second-half. In failing to double their lead the Tangerines highlighted an inability to kill games off, which could prove detrimental in the future.
Wimbledon can execute a plan
Despite the home side’s wasteful dominance in the second half, the first 45 minutes offered little entertainment from either side, partly due to Wimbledon’s effective closing down.
It was clear that they had prepared to have less possession, but knew how to stifle a Blackpool midfield which struggles from a lack of creativity – something made worse by the departures of Brad Potts and Bright Osayi-Samuel.
The Tangerines were frequently forced into careless misplaced passes, confined into the middle third of the pitch and found themselves out numbered during efforts to advance on the wings.
In fact, the best chance of the half (by some distance) fell to Wimbledon, who could have led at the break from a well-disciplined performance.
It was only after conceding that the side imploded. Nadjim Abdou received a straight red-card for an unnecessary two-footed challenge just minutes after going behind. His departure marked the end of Wimbledon’s competitiveness in the match.