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Match Reports

Wimbledon all but down after draw

Points shared at Highbury Stadium

23 April 2022

AFC Wimbledon were cruelly denied all three points at Fleetwood Town after the opposition were handed an equaliser that they barely had to work hard for.

On a day of high stakes it had all been going to plan for Mark Bowen’s side after Luke McCormick finished off a well worked team move superbly.

This saw us go in at half-time a goal to the good and with other results across the division also going in our favour, it looked for all the world like we were going to get the victory that we have all craved for so long.

However, disaster struck for the Dons after Nik Tzanev was penalised, apparently for taking an extra touch prior to a free kick being taken. This led to Fleetwood being handed a set piece of their own and Joe Garner fired home the resulting effort, as we essentially shot ourselves in the foot.

It was a setback that we mentally couldn’t recover from and in the end a tense and lengthy portion of injury time led to no further goals and as a result gave us a score line that did us far more harm than good.

Our League One status is now as good as gone, barring a big mathematical swing, and as a result we must now take stock as a collective and look to pick this proud club up once more.

Mark Bowen made one enforced change to the side which drew 1-1 with Wycombe Wanderers on Easter Monday as Anthony Hartigan came into the midfield in place of the injured Alex Woodyard. Meanwhile Dapo Mebude was named amongst the substitutes.

The boisterous Wimbledon contingent were shoehorned into the far corner of the main stand for this game, offering their usual vocal backing from the off as we set about looking to take the match by the scruff of the neck.

There was an early sighter for the hosts, with Anthony Pilkington seeing his shot deflected by Paul Kalambayi into the hands of Tzanev, who did well to adjust. The Cod Army then went even closer shortly after as Josh Harrop fired wide.

That let-off seemed to fire the Dons into life and soon enough we took the lead. A lovely, crafted move, started by Jack Rudoni’s flick header, led to Ayoub Assal getting in behind, before the midfielder’s cut back was expertly laid off for McCormick to guide the ball expertly into the top corner. It was the only real moment of quality in the opening 45 minutes, and it gave us a platform to build upon heading into the second period.

George Marsh was continuing to thrive in his newly appointed role of right wing back, whilst the likes of McCormick, Rudoni and Assal worked their socks off continuously to press Fleetwood into mistakes. The back three also continued to stand up resolutely as we approached the final 15 minutes of the contest, with Lee Brown offering a good outlet down the left hand side when possession was won back.

Tzanev was again called into action to deal with a corner, showing immense bravery to claim under pressure at the second attempt as another Fleetwood attack was foiled. However, events then took a turn for the worse for the Dons as the hosts were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box after Tzanev was adjudged to have taken an extra touch when preparing to take a Wimbledon set piece. After what seemed like an eternity, the ball was touched to Garner, who sent it past the wall and into the far corner.

Nine minutes were added on after the chaos that had ensued, but we were unable to find the goal that was needed and as a result we are all but down, barring a miraculous change in circumstances next week.

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Will Nightingale, George Marsh, Anthony Hartigan (Dylan Adjei-Hersey), Sam Cosgrove (Derick Osei Yaw), Ayoub Assal, Jack Rudoni (Ethan Chislett), Luke McCormick, Ben Heneghan, Paul Kalambayi, Lee Brown.

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