Leyton Orient’s chances of finishing in the Play-Offs were brought to an end as Lyle Taylor’s first half strike condemned them to a 1-0 defeat at AFC Wimbledon.
Taylor scored the only goal of the afternoon on the 17th minute with a composed finish inside the area to give the hosts all three points.
Following Tuesday night’s defeat to Plymouth, the O’s made three changes to the starting XI for their trip to Kingsmeadow.
Sammy Moore and Ollie Palmer came in for the injured duo of Nigel Atangana and Jay Simpson, while Peter Ramage replaced Jerome Binnom-Williams at left back with the Crystal Palace loanee dropping to the bench.
Coming into the tie the O’s were five points behind the Wimbledon, and with the East Londoners looking to make up ground they got off to a lively start as Blair Turgott curled a shot onto the roof of the net.
Despite the brief bit of pressure, the Wombles responded with a chance of their own soon after when former Orient man Andy Barcham tricked his way past Nicky Hunt before seeing a powerful drive parried away by Alex Cisak.
Wimbledon’s delivery from set-pieces was proving incredibly difficult to deal with and midfielder Connor Smith spurned a great opportunity on the 14th minute when he could only glance Callum Kennedy’s corner wide despite being left unmarked six yards out.
Three minutes however the hosts did make the breakthrough when Tom Elliott’s shot was blocked into the path of Lyle Taylor who kept his composure to drill a low shot through several bodies and beyond Cisak.
Wimbledon were denied a second midway through the first half when Shaun Brisley let a ball into the box bounce, leading to George Francomb heading it down for Tay
Taylor was then denied a second midway through the first half, being denied by a terrific save from Cisak who reacted superbly to tip his shot behind for a corner, which then saw the hosts spurn another chance as Elliott headed George Francomb’s corner wide.
The O’s then had Cisak to thank once again 10 minutes before half time as the Aussie produced a splendid reaction save to parry away a fierce volley from Elliott who had combined well with Taylor on the edge of the area.
As the half drew to a close Elliott flashed another header wide from goal, though that was to be the final chance of the half as Orient went into the break a goal behind.
Following the interval both sides returned for the second half unchanged, and Armand Gnanduillet was unable to make the most of an early chance when he latched onto a loose ball outside the area before seeing a left-footed shot comfortably gathered by Dons goalkeeper Kelle Roos.
With 54 minutes on the clock the hosts saw appeals for a penalty turned down when Dannie Bulman saw a shot blocked in the area by Shaun Brisley, but despite claiming for a spot-kick referee Graham Salisbury waved play on.
Moments later Orient wasted a chance to level the tie when a Turgott shot was deflected up high in the Dons penalty area, but Gnanduillet and Palmer could only get in each others way as the latter eventually poked an effort over the bar.
Despite several half chances Orient were struggling to really trouble Roos in the hosts goal, and with just over 25 minutes left Wimbledon came close to adding a second when Smith curled an effort wide from the edge of the area.
Cisak had produced a number of fantastic stops for the O’s throughout the afternoon and was once again called into action on the 70th minute when Barry Fuller’s cross was missed by Mathieu Baudry and dropped to Barcham who drilled a powerful shot straight into the arms of the Orient number one.
With time running out for the O’s Scott Kashket was introduced for the final 15 minutes, coming on for Sean Clohessy to take up a position on the right of midfield.
Kashket was then handed the opportunity to level for the O’s soon after coming on with a free-kick on the edge of the Wimbledon area after Gnanduillet had gone down under a challenge from Fuller, though the 20-year-old’s effort came back off the wall before a tame effort from Lloyd James was gathered by Roos.
In response to the effort Barcham fizzed a volley wide for the hosts, and with five minutes left to go Orient made their second change of the afternoon as Sandro Semedo came on for his league debut in place of Turgott.
Four minutes stoppage time was indicated by the fourth official but there was to be no equaliser as Orient’s Play-Off hopes were ended. With the defeat Orient drop down to 14th in League Two with two games remaining.
AFC WIMBLEDON: Roos, Fuller (C), Robinson, Charles, Kennedy, Francomb (Rigg 71), Smith, Bulman, Barcham, Elliott, Taylor (Azeez 77)
SUBS: Shea, Sweeney, Fitzpatrick, Murphy, Akinfenwa
GOALS: Taylor (17)
ORIENT: Cisak, Hunt, Baudry (C), Brisley, Ramage, Clohessy (Kashket 76), James, Moore, Turgott (Semedo 85), Palmer, Gnanduillet
SUBS: Sargeant, Pollock, Binnom-Williams, Payne, Jahraldo-Martin
REFEREE: Graham Salisbury
ATTENDANCE: 4,732 (809 Orient fans)