AFC Wimbledon secured a dramatic injury-time winner tonight with a fine headed goal from Jon Meades bagging all three points.
Meades headed home emphatically, getting on the end of a corner to reward the 191 travelling Dons on a wet night at Bury.
Lyle Taylor’s header had earlier cancelled out Neil Danns’ opener from the penalty spot. The late intervention from Meades extended Wimbledon’s unbeaten league run to seven and what a way to do it.
Despite a busy October schedule for the Dons, Neal Ardley made just one change to his starting line-up after the home draw against Swindon. Tyrone Barnett was recalled in place of Tom Elliott up front as Wimbledon attempted to make it seven league games unbeaten.
On a rain-sodden pitch that made playing good football tricky, Wimbledon started brightly. With the midfield trio of Dannie Bulman, Jake Reeves and Dean Parrett getting on the ball to good effect, the Dons enjoyed plenty of good possession. Andy Barcham so nearly found a cutting edge with a good run, but he was just stopped with a last-ditch tackle. Then Tyrone Barnett threatened to break the deadlock when he powered through, but his shot was deflected wide.
Barcham was giving full-back Kelvin Etuhu a tough time early on, but Wimbledon were not making best use of the corners that came their way as a result. Dean Parrett’s delivery from the first two was not quite up to his usual standard, but he did send over a good one that Paul Robinson so nearly latched onto at the far post.
Bury had barely threatened Wimbledon by the midway point of the first-half, but they snatched the lead against the run of play. James Vaughan appeared to be going away from goal when he went down under a challenge from Robinson, but the referee pointed to the spot. Neil Danns stepped up and struck a low effort into the bottom corner that left James Shea with no chance. Falling behind was harsh on Wimbledon, but it needed Barry Fuller to prevent further damage when he blocked a goal-bound effort from Danns.
A spirited response followed from Wimbledon after going behind. Barcham had already shown his qualities on the flank and he really showed his class by setting up the opener in the 39th minute. Turning his marker inside out, Barcham made space for a cross and then sent over a lovely delivery that Lyle Taylor headed home powerfully. Being on level terms was the least Wimbledon deserved and it was so nearly 2-1 when Taylor flicked on for Barcham, but his effort was deflected wide. When the half-time whistle shrilled, Wimbledon could take plenty of encouragement from a fine first-half display in the conditions.
The second-half started with both teams struggling to cope with increasingly wet conditions. However, it was Wimbledon offering the most threat as Neal Ardley’s men continued to drive forward. It almost paid off when Dean Parrett cracked a powerful drive at goal and Bury goalkeeper Ben Williams was just able to grasp it at the second attempt. Bury had a decent spell at the other end with Danny Mayor threatening to do it all by himself. The forward struck a brilliant 30-yard curler that James Shea failed to reach, but to his relief the ball flashed just over.
Midway through the second-half, it was a game really in the balance with both teams going all out for the win. A lovely Dons move ended with Jon Meades finding Barcham, but he was upended on the edge of the box and referee Andrew Haines refused to give a free-kick. However, the man-in-the-middle failed to be swayed by the home faithful’s roars for a penalty when Darius Charles shoulder barged Mayor off the ball in the area.
During Bury’s best spell of the game, Wimbledon defended resolutely with Charles a tower of strength at the heart of defence. But there was little sign of Wimbledon settling for a draw as we entered the last 15 minutes. Neal Ardley made a double change with Dominic Poleon and Alfie Egan introduced for Lyle Taylor and Dannie Bulman. Shortly afterwards, Tom Elliott also entered the fray for Barnett. The Dons needed James Shea to maintain his concentration when he reacted well to beat out a powerful drive from Bury substitute Andrew Tutte.
Elliott was straight into the action and he had a half a chance to get a shot off after good work by Poleon, but he was crowded out. In a spell of late pressure, Wimbledon forced several corners and the pressure paid off when Meades headed home superbly from a corner delivered precisely by Jake Reeves. What a way to do it as he slid in celebration to spark scenes of joy among the travelling Dons.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Jon Meades, Dannie Bulman (Alfie Egan), Paul Robinson, Jake Reeves, Andy Barcham, Dean Parrett, Tyrone Barnett (Tom Elliott), Darius Charles, Lyle Taylor (Dominic Poleon).