ROCHDALE 0, AFC WIMBLEDON 1
AFC Wimbledon snatched a dramatic injury-time win at Rochdale courtesy of a goal from substitute Ethan Chislett who had only been on the field for five minutes.
The 22-year-old South African, a summer signing from Aldershot Town, struck in the second of four added minutes.
With the game heading towards a forgettable goalless draw, the Crazy Gang struck an unlikely winner as substitutes Jack Rudoni and former Southampton youth player Chislett combined.
Rudoni delivered the cross from the left to Chislett as the player, who used to play non-league for Metropolitan Police, produced a fabulous turn before firing low past goalkeeper Jay Lynch.
It was a win that extended the Dons’ unbeaten run to five matches – two wins and three draws – and lifted them to 12th pace.
Dale, who had the better of the few chances, were left to reflect on what might have been as they slipped to 20th place.
They are without a win in six matches, including four in the league, as a scrap for survival is beginning to look likely.
Dale had Lynch in goal as he replaced the injured Manchester City keeper Gavin Bazunu while Stephen Humphrys has recovered from a knock to be on the bench.
The Dons had newly signed central defender Ben Heneghan, who recently had his contract cancelled by Sheffield United, on the bench as he awaited his debut.
Perhaps it was inevitable that it was a scrappy and disjointed opening period given the preparations of both teams.
It was the Dons’ first game in 18 days following a Covid outbreak in their campaign and Dale had not played for 10 days after the postponement of last Saturday’s match at Charlton Athletic.
Though the match statistics note five goal attempts from each side, neither goalkeeper had a serious shot to save in a disappointing first 45 minutes.
Dale had a great chance to end the stalemate five minutes after the restart when Ollie Rathbone breached the offside trap on the left.
The left-sided midfielder nicked the ball past onrushing goalkeeper Connal Trueman only for the ball to roll agonisingly wide.
Dale began taking a hold on the game as Trueman was twice called into action in quick succession.
First, he clawed away a right-wing cross from Matty Lund which was drifting under the crossbar and that was followed by a smart stop to turn a deflected cross from Tolaji Bola around the post for a corner.
The Dons became more of a threat in the latter stages as Steve Seddon, sliding in at the far post, just failed to convert an Alex Woodyard cross.
And they delivered the decisive blow in stoppage time when Chislett scored his second goals for the Dons who are within touching distance of the top half of the table.