Dons earn deserved point
AFC Wimbledon battled back to secure a deserved draw in Kent tonight with a goal from Andy Barcham against his old club earning a point.
In an entertaining 2-2 draw, it was the least Wimbledon merited as Neal Ardley’s men produced a good away display in front of 512 travelling Dons at Gillingham.
Neal Ardley had stated in the build-up to this match that he had been pleased with his side’s overall display in the defeat at Shrewsbury and that was reflected in his choice of starting line-up. An unchanged Dons starting line-up aimed to increase the pressure on a Gillingham side beaten by bottom of the table Coventry City on Saturday.
minute. George Francomb delivered a good cross to the back post, which was headed back by Darius Charles, and Lyle Taylor produced a clinical finish that left Gillingham goalkeeper Stuart Nelson with no chance. The lead lasted less than two minutes though with Bradley Dack marching through a static Dons defence, before beating James Shea with a low drive.thIn pursuit of a first away win since October, Wimbledon had the perfect start with a well-worked free-kick paying off in the 17
Despite the setback of conceding so soon after the opener, Wimbledon appeared to have more confidence going forward after getting back among the goals on their travels. Taylor, who produced an excellent first-half display up front, then turned provider when he picked out Tom Elliott through the middle, but the towering forward lost his balance and ran the ball out of play. Another good Dons move ended with a lovely ball in from the left by Sean Kelly, but this time Elliott headed just wide.
minute and it came through a goal that signalled vociferous protests from Wimbledon players and management. Former Dons right-back Jackson, who had looked sharp down the flank, delivered a ball that was swept home by Josh Wright, but Wimbledon appealed for a foul on Sean Kelly in the build-up. However, after consulting with his assistant, referee Darren Deadman awarded the goal. The half-time whistle signalled a 2-1 deficit for the Dons, but there had been enough good attacking moves for Wimbledon to retain belief that there was a way back in the second-half.thAgainst the run of play, Gillingham snatched the lead in the 37
minute when Francomb put over a fine delivery from a corner that picked out Nightingale in space, but he headed wide from close-range. With Wimbledon dominating the second-half and Gills holding onto what they had, Neal Ardley decided to try another option up front. Dominic Poleon, who scored in the corresponding fixture in October, was introduced for Fitzpatrick.thWimbledon made a half-time change with Sean Kelly substituted and Will Nightingale entering the fray. That meant a switch to three at the back with Wimbledon showing plenty of ambition to get back into this game. The Dons missed a great chance to restore parity in the 58
With Wimbledon going for broke now, there was a risk that the visitors would leave the door open at the other end. It needed James Shea to make a flying save to deny Dack. Then followed a big turning point in this match as Gillingham squandered a great chance to make it three and Wimbledon punished them. Rory Donnelly was played in through the middle, but he shot too close to Shea and he was left to rue that missed opportunity shortly afterwards. Barcham appeared to be running out of space with defenders closing him down in a packed area, but he managed to make space for a shot and his low finish had enough on it to beat Nelson for the equaliser.
There was little sign of Wimbledon settling for the point as Neal Ardley decided to introduce Tyrone Barnett for Elliott. Wimbledon went all out for a late winner and Darius Charles put over a lovely cross that Poleon just failed to reach, before a searching cross from Barcham just missed everyone. However, Wimbledon were relieved that Mark Byrne headed against a post from Bradley Dack’s cross. Defeat would have been very harsh on Wimbledon though and it was an away performance to be proud of in Kent.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Paul Robinson, George Francomb, Jake Reeves, Tom Elliott (Tyrone Barnett), Tom Soares, Andy Barcham, David Fitzpatrick (Dominic Poleon), Sean Kelly (Will Nightingale), Darius Charles, Lyle Taylor.