Wimbledon scored yet another crucial goal in injury-time tonight to snatch a deserved point with Sammy Moore the hero on this occasion.
Remarkably, Wimbledon struck deep into added time for the third successive game with Sammy cracking home the equaliser for a deserved 2-2 draw in the circumstances.
It was just reward for Wimbledon as they battled manfully for long spells after referee Michael Bull had sent off Jack Midson for handball on the line.
The Dons were cruising after George Francomb had given them an early lead, but Midson was adjudged to have handled on the line and that decision turned the match.
Following Darren Carter’s successful spot-kick, the Dons defended resolutely with 10 men before the same player struck to put Northampton 2-1 up with 12 minutes left, but there was a sting in the tail for the hosts.
Neal Ardley made two changes to his starting line-up after the win against Cheltenham Town with captain Alan Bennett restored at the heart of defence in place of Darren Jones and fit-again Aaron Morris preferred to Peter Sweeney in midfield.
The Dons made a solid enough start at Sixfields Stadium that quietened a home crowd intent on lifting their struggling side. It took until the 10th minute for Northampton to threaten when Alan Connell found Leon McSweeney in space and his dangerous cross across the face of goal just evaded everyone in the box.
However, Wimbledon had the first meaningful chance shortly afterwards when Barry Fuller powered down the right flank and delivered a cross that Charlie Wyke headed just wide. That offered the Dons encouragement as an attacking force and they took the lead in style in the 14th minute. A great team move involving Sammy Moore and Michael Collins ended with a fine ball across from Tom Richards and George Francomb hit the back of the net with a superb strike past Northampton goalkeeper Matt Duke.
It was exactly what Wimbledon deserved for a bright start as their fluid 4-4-2 formation caused all sorts of problems for the Northampton defence. And the Dons could have been 2-0 up when Francomb’s cross was diverted against his own crossbar by McSweeney. However, Darren Carter fired a warning shot to Wimbledon with a powerful drive that Ross Worner did well to hold.
At this stage, Wimbledon seemed fairly comfortable and they were much the better side, but the game was turned on its head by a decision from referee Michael Bull. The man-in-the-middle adjudged that Jack Midson had handled the ball on the line from Zander Diamond’s header and the Dons striker was shown a straight red card. Carter smashed home the penalty and the Dons now had to survive for over an hour with 10 men.
Despite their numerical advantage, Northampton failed to trouble Worner during the remainder of the first-half and one felt that Wimbledon may have a chance of surviving with 10 men if they could get to half-time and regroup. The hosts had a great chance to change that with virtually the last kick of the half when Chris Hackett swung in a corner that fell nicely for Mathias Kouo-Doumbe, but he missed the target from close-range.
Unsurprisingly, Wimbledon were penned back in their own half for a sustained spell after the break. It needed resolute defending from the Dons to keep the hosts out, most notably when Sammy Moore made a heroic last-ditch block to stop Gregor Robertson’s goal-bound effort. However, Wimbledon survived until the hour mark without a clear chance being created during the second-half so far.
The Dons were fortunate to survive a couple of minutes later though when Emile Sinclair, who scored a hat-trick for Macclesfield against Wimbledon in 2011, found space in the box from a long cross, but he headed over the bar. However, a rare foray forward from Wimbledon could have resulted in the visitors taking the lead again. Good forward play from Wyke won a corner and Francomb’s subsequent cross picked out Andy Frampton, but he headed over the crossbar. Wimbledon were growing in confidence as Northampton became more and more frustrated that they were making little impression. More fine play from Wyke presented Michael Collins with a decent shooting chance from an acute angle and his effort was well saved by Duke.
Neal Ardley decided to make a double change 15 minutes from time with Luke Moore introduced for Wyke, who had put in a tireless shift up front, and Will Antwi for Frampton. Just when it started to look like Wimbledon would earn a point against the odds, a half cleared cross fell nicely for Carter and he struck a fierce drive that took a deflection to find the top corner with 12 minutes to play. Wimbledon responded by making another change with Chris Arthur introduced for Francomb as the manager decided to go for broke.
And Wimbledon were rewarded in the sixth minute of injury time for refusing to give up when Fuller swung over a cross and the ball was diverted into the path of Sammy Moore, who cracked home the equaliser. It was the least Wimbledon deserved for their tenacity in the circumstances and the 362 Dons fans that made the trip were rewarded with a display that leaves their side close to sealing another season in the Football League.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner, Barry Fuller, Andy Frampton (Will Antwi), Alan Bennett, George Francomb, (Chris Arthur) Sammy Moore, Jack Midson, Charlie Wyke (Luke Moore), Aaron Morris, Michael Collins, Tom Richards.