AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley took the blame for the desperate second half performance which condemned his charges to 4-0 thumping at home to Southend United.

The Dons dominated possession in the first half although, aside from Jake Reeves’ drive that clipped the crossbar, they had little to show for it.

Southend took the lead against the run of play just before the break, and they took control, thanks to some Keystone Cop defending, with two quick-fire headers from set pieces.

A fourth goal in the dying moments, again due to slack defending at a corner, by no means flattered Southend, who would have had more but for Neil Sullivan’s heroics and some inexplicably woeful finishing.

Ardley said: “For the first 40 minutes we did everything we had talked about before the game. Our centre backs were dominant. The front four needed to give us more but we were on top.

“But it is an accident waiting to happen at times with us, their first shot at goal is a great finish but then you’re chasing the game.

“What happened in the second half was unacceptable.”

He added: “As manager, I take the rap for it but I am looking at the boys, and saying did you do what you should have been doing for me? They need to ask themselves some serious questions.

“We are light on players, we have 10 on the injury table, the bench is very young and they should not be being thrown in to the dog fight we are in.

“But I am not going to hide behind injuries, the performance was unacceptable.

“We worked hard on Monday on set pieces, we talked about how their centre backs are a threat from set pieces, we talked how we needed to mark them tight and well, and then that second half happens.”

The Dons, just two points above the drop zone, travel to Morecambe this weekend.