Carlisle United dominated at the Kingsmeadow but a second half red card for keeper Mark Gillespie was followed by a scrambled finish from a free kick which proved to be the defining moment on a cruel night for the travelling contingent.
The opening volley of the game was quite literally that when Gilliead found space in attack. He let fly but his shot spun high into the stands.
Close attention on Sweeney from Wyke earned the big striker possession on the edge of the home box and he had the goal at his mercy as he pushed forward. He went for power and was disappointed to see a blistering shot curl well wide.
The hosts got forward on the right through Taylor and he won a throw which invited men into the area. A launched delivery was flicked on by Kennedy but Ellis stepped over to nod it away.
Carlisle's good start continued and Comley fed Gilliead to send him on a run. He beat one but his low cross was blocked at source.
Both sides battled for supremacy in midfield and a foul on Hope allowed Gillesphey to drill a set piece at the back stick. It bounced up awkwardly off the surface and the return from Gilliead dropped behind the goal.
Wimbledon tried to assert some authority and Taylor did well to make space for a cross. Gillesphey threw out a leg to stop Barcham from making anything from it but there was more danger from the corner when Francomb bent it in. Gillesphey got the slightest of touches as he tried to stop it and Gillespie had to go full length to make a two-handed save as it threatened to creep in under his bar.
United went close again on 18 minutes when loose passes in the Dons’ defensive third left Roos exposed. Hope nipped in to steal the ball and his thumping shot ricocheted away to safety as it crunched the outside of the post and rebounded back into play.
The hosts showed in fits and starts and they caused a brief moment of panic when Barcham went past two on the right flank. Elliott raced in but Raynes and Gillespie combined to snuff the moment out.
Carlisle looked the more likely to break the deadlock and a precise pass from McQueen found Wyke with his back to goal. He turned quickly but his effort was blocked as he angled for the bottom corner.
Wimbledon started to go long and a high one fell nicely for Barcham when it came off Ellis as he jumped to intervene. It was a difficult chance and Gillespie dropped low to gather the weak shot.
The long throw caused difficulties at the other end as Ellis mixed distance with guile and Fuller was caught out when Hope took one on his chest. The United attacker tumbled under pressure but the referee waved played on despite being confronted by a chorus of loud appeals.
Another missile from Ellis received the slightest of flicks from Raynes as he lost his marker. Two bounces took it across the face of goal but both Wyke and Ibehre were frustrated as they missed out by less than an inch.
The Dons were opened up by good approach play as Carlisle picked up the pace of the game and intricate play from Wyke and Kennedy left Gilliead with room to exploit. He shot from range but it was another easy one for Roos.
The home side couldn’t get out of their own half and Kennedy was quick to rob Smith as he dallied in the centre circle. A one-two brought a delivery which skipped past everybody, much to the relief of the increasingly frazzled back line.
United started the second half as they had ended the first, in determined mood, but they were stopped in their tracks when Elliott was given a ball over the top to chase. Gillespie rushed out to close the angles and he was shown a straight red card as he clashed with the marauding forward.
Hanford came on to take the vacant place between the sticks and he was unlucky when he got his hands to a rasping free kick from Taylor. It spooned up into the air and Paul Robinson was there to sweep the scraps into the back of the net.
Goalmouth scrambles followed at both ends and Taylor thought he’d sealed the points when he went on a run on the left. His shot bulged the net but his bearings were wrong and he could only find the side netting.
Hope popped a header from a Comley free kick right at Roos as Carlisle went in search of an equaliser and Comley wasn’t too far off as he turned away from his marker. A low attempt was too close to the keeper to cause any real discomfort.
Lady Luck well and truly deserted the Cumbrians with ten minutes left to play when Comley sent a cross at the penalty spot. A touch set it in front of Michael Raynes and he did everything right as he put his head over the ball and cracked a volley through bodies. Roos was beaten but he once again had his woodwork to thank for helping to maintain his clean sheet.
Carlisle kept coming and Fuller did well to stop Ibehre from slotting one away when Asamoah played him clean through late in the day. And the United players were left looking at each other in disbelief as the resulting corner whipped across the face of goal when all it needed was a touch.
Another Raynes volley brought an offside flag for Hope as he tried to divert it in, and Hope was left even more frustrated when he was tackled from behind as he twisted inside the box. More vociferous penalty appeals were waved away as the referee turned his back on the incident.
Wimbledon kept the ball well through the tense closing stages and the last chance of the night fell to Jabo Ibehre as Carlisle mounted one last attack. He let fly from the edge of the box but Roos was on hand to draw it into his chest.
Wimbledon - Robinson (53)
United - Comley (79)
Gillespie (sent off 50)
Wimbledon - Roos, Fuller, Robinson, Sweeney, Meades, Reeves, Smith, Barcham, Elliott (Akinfenwa 77), Taylor (Azeez 77), Francomb (Bulman 89). Subs - Shea, C Kennedy, Sean Rigg, Fitzpatrick.
Carlisle United - Gillespie, McQueen (Asamoah 78), Ellis, Raynes, Gillesphey, Gilliead (Hanford 52), Comley (Archibald-Henville 87), J Kennedy, Hope, Wyke, Ibehre. Subs - Joyce, Hery, Steven Rigg, Thompson.
Referee - Mr Darren Deadman
Attendance - 3,526 (267 away fans)