Will swoops in the nick of time
A towering header from Will Nightingale rounded off AFC Wimbledon’s trip to Spain on a high last night.
Nightingale struck with five minutes left in the picturesque surroundings of La Manga to earn a 1-1 draw against a strong Granada CF B side containing plenty of talent.
The Dons got off to a good start and looked the better of the two sides in the early exchanges with Lyle Taylor, Bayo Akinfenwa and George Francomb all causing problems for the Granada defence.
Taylor, who had struck four goals in two matches for the Dons heading into this match, looked set to continue his hot streak as he raced through on the keeper after a flick on by Akinfenwa, but he was dragged down on the edge of the box.
Wide players Andy Barcham and Francomb had the better of their opponents early on and created a good number of chances down the flanks, Akinfenwa and Rigg both heading chances just over from their crosses.
Granada's early efforts to push forward proved fruitless as the Dons pressed from the front. Jake Reeves and Dannie Bulman controlled the centre of the pitch and broke up the Granada advances well.
AFC Wimbledon's back three of Barry Fuller, Karleigh Osborne and Nightingale looked comfortable and goalkeeper James Shea was rarely called upon during the first half. When Granada managed their first shot on goal around the half hour mark, Shea reacted quickly to make a good save from Granada's right winger.
Granada made changes at half-time with a number of their more experienced players entering the fold. The Dons had made just one change at half time with Francomb giving way to Jon Meades.
Following the restart, Granada started to increase their pressure with a good passing game and they earned the lead just before the hour. A quick Granada break ended with a fine cross from the right that was well finished off by James Canillas, a highly-rated striker who recently signed a three-year contract with Granada CF.
Wimbledon made a number of changes following the hour mark to create a much younger team. The substitutions gave the Dons renewed drive as they began to press again in search of a goal.
And a deserved equaliser followed in the 83rd minute. Substitute David Fitzpatrick broke forward down the right flank and his dangerous cross forced a corner. A good cross in by Tom Beere from the corner was met by a great header from Nightingale, who left the Granada goalkeeper with no chance.
Granada ended the match with 10 men as one of their players was given a second yellow card, but time ran out for the Dons to snatch victory despite controlling possession.
The supporters’ man of the match award went to midfielder Jake Reeves, who gave a controlled and tireless performance in 30-plus degree temperatures.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Will Nightingale, Karleigh Osborne, Andy Barcham, Dannie Bulman, Jake Reeves, Bayo Akinfenwa, Sean Rigg, Lyle Taylor, George Francomb. Subs: Tom Beere, Callum Kennedy, Ryan Sweeney, Ade Azeez, Jon Meades, Christian Toonga, David Fitzpatrick.
The picture above of Sean Rigg in match action last night featured on the Granada CF official Facebook page.