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Elliott strikes for a point

11 February 2017

Dramatic leveller in injury-time

AFC Wimbledon salvaged a point in dramatic fashion today with an injury-time strike from Tom Elliott rewarding a much-improved second-half display.

Elliott received a second yellow card after scoring for his celebrations, a fine volley from the Dons striker having led to ecstatic scenes.

The 1-1 draw extended Wimbledon’s unbeaten home league run with Neal Ardley’s side having last suffered a defeat against Bradford City at the end of October.

Neal Ardley made three changes from the side that started at Sheffield United last Saturday. One of those was enforced with Darius Charles missing out due to a knee injury and he was replaced at the heart of defence by Chris Robertson. George Francomb and Dominic Poleon were both recalled with Dannie Bulman and Andy Barcham having to settle for places on the bench. Tom Soares was handed his home debut in the centre of the park after featuring at Bramall Lane last time out.

Charlton made the best start and they had the reward of an opening goal in the eighth minute through Ricky Holmes. Robertson was penalised for a foul on Joe Aribo and Holmes found the top corner with a superb free-kick that left James Shea with little chance. There was no let-up from the visitors and Wimbledon were fortunate not to be two down in the next 10 minutes. Two great chances fell to Joe Aribo, the first of those when he struck just wide from inside the area. Then the same player pounced on defensive hesitancy to go through on goal, but his lob was too close to Shea.

Wimbledon did start to threaten midway through the first-half with Tom Elliott causing havoc in the Charlton defence. Poleon threatened to get on the end of one of his knock downs, but the offside flag was up. At the other end, Charlton continued to threaten and Aribo struck another decent effort that Shea did well to hold. At this stage, Wimbledon had struggled to interrupt Charlton’s flowing attacking style with the visitors passing it with plenty of confidence.

With 37 minutes on the clock, there was a controversial incident that incensed home supporters. Lyle Taylor latched onto a through ball just inside Charlton’s half, but he was hacked down by a cynical challenge from Holmes. With home fans baying for a red card, referee Carl Boyeson adjudged it was only worthy of a yellow card. During seven minutes of first-half injury-time, Wimbledon at least threatened to get back into it. Francomb sent over a lovely cross from the right that Elliott just failed to reach and then Sean Kelly’s low cross from the other side everyone in the box and rolled agonisingly wide. Though it had been better from Wimbledon, more sustained pressure was needed in the second-half to avoid defeat.

Wimbledon were forced into a half-time change with Barry Fuller having to go off injured and that meant Andy Barcham was introduced with George Francomb switching to right-back. That allowed Francomb to get crosses in from deeper positions and he wasted no time delivering a fine ball from the right that just evaded everyone. As Wimbledon played with a higher tempo, several free-kicks and corners followed. It so nearly paid off when Robertson got on the end of a corner from Francomb, but his header flashed just wide. However, Wimbledon had to be wary of leaving the door open at the other end and Shea had to react quickly to make a fingertip save from Tony Watt.

Francomb showed plenty of quality in his deeper role and another fine delivery was only half cleared out to Lyle Taylor, but he fired just wide. Poleon also blazed over the crossbar as Wimbledon forced Charlton to retreat deeper in defence. Attacks from Charlton were becoming rarer as the second-half progressed and when they did attempt a quick break through Holmes, Francomb got back well to deny him. Taylor was quick to latch onto a loose ball just outside the area, but his well struck shot was deflected wide. Jake Reeves also tried his luck, but his shot was well over the crossbar.

As the match entered the final 10 minutes, Charlton effectively had 10 men behind the ball as they attempted to settle for a 1-0 win. Barcham made an admirable effort to do it all himself when he dribbled through three challenges, but he was not quite able to get a cross in, though he was applauded by the home faithful. With seven minutes to go, Tyrone Barnett was introduced for Poleon.

It appeared that Charlton would hold out for a draw, but deep into injury-time Elliott latched onto a flick-on from substitute Tyrone Barnett and finished superbly from an acute angle. The Dons striker was then dramatically sent off after receiving a second yellow card, apparently for his celebrations with the fans in the corner. A point was definitely deserved for a much-improved second-half display from Wimbledon.

  AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller (Andy Barcham), Sean Kelly, Paul Robinson, Chris Robertson, George Francomb, Jake Reeves, Dominic Poleon (Tyrone Barnett), Tom Soares, Tom Elliott, Lyle Taylor.

Pic credit: Stuart Butcher, Pro Sports Images.

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