Wimbledon suffered late heartbreak at Prenton Park today with an injury time strike from George Green denying them a first away win of 2015.
Bayo Akinfenwa’s 15th goal of the season appeared to have earned a long overdue win on the road for Wimbledon, but they had to settle for a 1-1 draw after a goal from Green in the fourth minute of added time.
It would have been the perfect tonic for the absent Neal Ardley, who was unable to attend as he is still recuperating from a hip operation. The Dons defended resolutely against a side full of determination to save their skins and they deserved their touch of fortune when Akinfenwa’s shot was deflected in.
Assistant manager Neil Cox afterwards praised the 406 Dons supporters who made the trip to Merseyside, a total of 5,592 in attendance at Prenton Park.
Though it was Neil Cox and Simon Bassey taking charge of team matters at Tranmere in Neal Ardley’s absence, it was virtually the same side that started against Portsmouth. Tom Beere, who signed a new contract last week, was offered a chance to show what he could do from the start with Alfie Potter making way and that was the only change.
Having started today third from bottom, Tranmere were desperate for a home win after their 4-1 defeat at the hands of League 2 leaders Burton Albion last Saturday. It was a bright start from Tranmere and Ross Worner was required to make a fine save to deny George Green, who joined on loan from Everton in midweek. Captain Barry Fuller was also required to make a timely clearance from a cross as Tranmere wasted no time going for it.
However, Wimbledon started to dominate possession and promising situations followed for the visitors. Beere, who had already tested Tranmere goalkeeper Peter Brezovan with a superbly delivered corner, picked out Craig Tanner, but his shot from an acute angle was well held by Brezovan. Sean Rigg then struck a fierce 30-yard drive that Brezovan was forced to turn wide as it bobbled in front of him. There was a setback for Wimbledon in the 18th minute when Jack Smith had to go off injured and he was replaced by Ben Harrison.
With the pace and trickery of Tanner dovetailing well up front with Bayo Akinfenwa, Wimbledon continued to cause problems for the hosts. And Wimbledon marched into the lead through that man Akinfenwa in the 29th minute. A lovely touch from Akinfenwa set-up a shooting chance for himself and his volley took a wicked deflection to deceive Brezovan and make it 1-0.
Though Wimbledon failed to build on that as an attacking force, the Dons restricted Tranmere to very little during the rest of the first-half. The only real scare before half-time came when Janoi Danacien was left completely unmarked in the box, but with the goal gaping he failed to connect and the chance was gone.
With Wimbledon having played well in the first-half, it was no surprise that the Dons made no half-time changes. There was big relief for Wimbledon just seconds into the second half though when an unmarked Adam Dugdale got on the end of a corner from Green, but he headed wide with a great chance.
It had been a much-improved attacking display from Wimbledon and they so nearly earned the cushion of a second goal. A lovely move involving Jake Reeves ended with a shooting chance for Beere, but his fierce drive was well saved by Brezovan. The hosts finally started to work up a head of steam before the hour mark. Worner had to make a flying save to deny Green and then a strike from Max Power appeared to have Worner beaten, but it flashed wide.
At the other end, Wimbledon had vociferous appeals for a penalty turned down following a challenge in the box on Sean Rigg. That was a rare foray forward for Wimbledon in the second half though and Tranmere spurned their best chance so far with 25 minutes left. Former Port Vale winger Jennison Myrie-Williams got down the right flank and delivered a perfect ball for Tranmere captain Steve Jennings, but he dragged wide from close range.
With 15 minutes to play, Wimbledon had retreated deeper and deeper as Tranmere piled forward in desperate search of a goal that would breathe new life into their safety battle. However, Wimbledon twice came so close to a second, first when Reeves was brilliantly denied by Brezovan and Akinfenwa headed over the crossbar.
One appeared to be enough for the Dons, but there was nothing the visitors could do about Green’s superb strike. Still, Wimbledon could have nicked it when substitute Ade Azeez was brought down in the box, but the referee refused to blow and the Dons had to settle for a point.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner, Barry Fuller, Jack Smith (Ben Harrison), Sammy Moore, Jake Goodman, Deji Oshilaja, Tom Beere, Jake Reeves, Bayo Akinfenwa, Craig Tanner (Ade Azeez), Sean Rigg (Alfie Potter).