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Match Reports

Dons forced to settle for a point after bold start

Pigott's goal is not enough to earn maximum points

6 April 2019

AFC Wimbledon today failed to make the most of superior possession and chances against Accrington Stanley with all the key moments coming in the first-half.

Joe Pigott’s superb opener was cancelled out by Jordan Clark and Billy Kee missed a penalty before the half-time whistle sounded and a second-half stalemate meant that it ended 1-1. However, The Dons didn’t lose any ground in the battle to stay up with other teams down there failing to earn three points.

Following the impressive win at Scunthorpe, Wally Downes decided to make just one change to his starting line-up with Scott Wagstaff recalled and Shane McLoughlin having to settle for a place on the bench. Wimbledon came into this match aiming for a fifth win in six games against an Accrington side that had lost six out of seven games. The start to this game reflected that stark contrast with Wimbledon starting brightly and Toby Sibbick turned inside smartly and had a shot saved by Accrington keeper Dimitar Evtimov. There was then a goalmouth scramble with Paul Kalambayi trying to force the ball home, but Accrington just managed to clear the danger.

Accrington offered little as an attacking force in the opening exchanges and referee Neil Hair attempted to stamp his authority on proceedings from the outset when he booked Paul Smyth for simulation after he went down in the box as he Will Nightingale attempted to get in a challenge. The visitors threatened for the first time when Sean McConville, who scored in a win for Accrington in the corresponding fixture, struck a free-kick that Aaron Ramsdale did well to hold. However, Wimbledon were well in charge in the first half an hour and a fine move involving Anthony Wordsworth and Seddon gave Wagstaff a chance to run through on goal, but he was just denied.

Considering the start to this game, it was no surprise when Wimbledon marched into the lead in the 21st minute. Steve Seddon’s cross was only half cleared and Joe Pigott took full advantage with a clinical finish into the bottom corner. At this stage, Wimbledon were full value for the 1-0 advantage, but Accrington restored parity in the 36th minute. Kalambayi was unable to deal with a through ball, his repeated attempts to head the ball back to Aaron Ramsdale coming up short, and Jordan Clark made no mistake from close-range. Four minutes later, the visitors had a golden opportunity to take the lead. The referee adjudged that Scott Wagstaff had brought down Smyth in the area and Billy Kee, a regular scorer against Wimbledon in the past, took responsibility, but he dragged the penalty kick wide.

It had certainly been an eventful first 45 minutes. Wimbledon dominated for long spells, but Accrington had just managed to stay in the game and seized their opportunity when it came.

The Dons started the second-half with real determination to regain supremacy. Accrington survived another goalmouth scramble, before James Hanson came so close to giving Wimbledon the lead again. A ball from Pigott put him through on goal and Hanson’s smart lob drifted agonisingly wide. It was so close to a second for Wimbledon with Accrington surviving by the skin of their teeth. Though Sam Finley fired over the crossbar for Accrington at the other end, the Wimbledon pressure was building at the hour mark. Wally Downes attempted to capitalise on that by making an attacking change with Dylan Connolly entering the fray for Paul Kalambayi.

Connolly was straight into the thick of the action and he produced a trademark run down the left, before putting in a good ball into the box, but no one was able to get on the end of it. There was another change with 68 minutes on the clock, as Kwesi Appiah was sent on to replace Joe Pigott. Accrington had their best chance of the second-half so far when McConville pounced on a slip by Will Nightingale, but his shot was into the side netting. The second-half was regularly disrupted by man-in-the-middle Hair, who was certainly card-happy on the day. Though The Dons had the majority of possession and forward play, it was proving difficult to make it count.

Wimbledon piled forward in the latter stages in pursuit of all three points, but a decisive second goal didn’t look like coming. Despite the draw, Wimbledon still have a great opportunity to stay up with five games to go.

AFC Wimbledon: Aaron Ramsdale, Will Nightingale, Scott Wagstaff, Anthony Hartigan, Steve Seddon, James Hanson, Toby Sibbick, Rod McDonald, Paul Kalambayi (Dylan Connolly), Joe Pigott (Kwesi Appiah), Anthony Wordsworth.

Pic credit: Matt Redman, Pro Sports Images.

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