AFC Wimbledon were denied a valuable win in heartbreaking fashion today with an injury-time header by Joe Dodoo snatching a draw for Bolton.
Two goals by Marcus Forss, the second of them with eight minutes to play, appeared to have won it, before the hosts battled back to salvage a 2-2 draw.
Following a two-week break from league action, Glyn Hodges selected the same 11 that had started the victory at home to Gillingham. Our manager had spoken in the build-up about the two-week break having been beneficial to his squad and returning pair Adam Roscrow and Rod McDonald both made the substitutes’ bench. Bolton started this match with just one point after their points deduction, but their three games in hand meant they could still threaten to haul back the points gap to Wimbledon with a victory.
Bolton started the match with plenty of possession, but Wimbledon had the first shot on goal when Max Sanders tried his luck from just outside the area, but Bolton keeper Remi Matthews watched it all the way and saved well. Paul Osew, who came out of the traps quickly, had earlier produced a darting run down the left flank to get in behind, but his cross just failed to pick out Joe Pigott. What had been a slow start to this game burst into life after 20 minutes. It was so nearly for all the wrong reasons for Wimbledon when Nathan Trott failed to gather a cross by Sonny Graham, but Ronan Darcy struck the follow-up wide.
Wimbledon had a really good spell midway through the first-half. Osew was once again the instigator, the left-back sending over another accurate cross that picked out Marcus Forss, who headed over the crossbar. Then it was the time of Luke O’Neill to set-up a chance for Wimbledon, the right-back sending over a fine ball that Pigott headed just off target. Bolton responded by creating a good chance of their own when Darcy’s cross picked our Daryl Murphy, but he headed wide of the target. Minutes later, Trott had to stay alert to keep Wimbledon level after a cross was diverted by Luke O’Neill towards his own goal.
The hosts had been unable to build up sustained pressure against a well-drilled defence and Wimbledon took full advantage in the 41st minute. A quick breakaway ended with Pigott setting up his strike partner Forss and he finished emphatically. There was still plenty of work to do when Forss latched onto the ball 35 yards out, but he just didn’t look like passing up the opportunity, powering forward before delivering a clinical strike. The half-time whistle shrilled with Wimbledon taking a 1-0 lead into the break. Though The Dons could have done more to relieve pressure by holding onto the ball more in possession, there had been enough good attacking moments to suggest that there could be more to come.
Glyn Hodges made a half-time change with Shane McLoughlin replacing Mitch Pinnock in midfield. Bolton started the second-half in determined fashion, pushing Wimbledon back and the equaliser followed in the 55th minute. From a Wimbledon perspective, it was disappointing that the goal came from a corner with Darcy delivering a cross from the left that Murphy headed home for his fifth goal in as many games. In response, Paul Osew had a good chance, but he fired into the side netting.
Joe Dodoo acrobatically fired over the crossbar, as Bolton’s confidence increased due to the equaliser. Scott Wagstaff was then required to make a vital header away from the danger area after a cross was delivered to the back post. It would have been a certain goal but for Wagstaff’s crucial intervention and it served as a reminder to Wimbledon that Bolton were going all out for the victory now. However, Wimbledon came so close to regaining the lead in the 73rd minute. Callum Reilly sent over a lovely delivery from a corner on the Wimbledon right that picked out Ryan Delaney and he headed just over the crossbar.
Despite Bolton’s second-half fightback, Wimbledon had limited the hosts to very little in terms of chances and what followed was potentially a key moment in our season. Max Sanders delivered a free-kick from the right that Forss met at the back post and though his initial effort was saved by Matthews, the young striker cracked home the rebound. It led to ecstatic celebrations from Wimbledon’s players and fans with Forss celebrating with our travelling support. That goal came in the 82nd minute and there appeared to be no way back for the hosts, Wimbledon holding onto possession effectively to stop Bolton mountain any pressure. However, there was a late sting in the tail that was a bitter pill to swallow as Dodoo headed home a cross to earn a draw for the hosts.
AFC Wimbledon: Nathan Trott, Luke O’Neill, Scott Wagstaff, Mitch Pinnock (Shane McLoughlin), Marcus Forss (Nesta Guinness-Walker), Ryan Delaney, Max Sanders, Paul Kalambayi, Callum Reilly, Paul Osew, Joe Pigott.
Pic credit: Paul Thompson, Pro Sports Images.