Dons’ Title Hopes Ended After Crawley Defeat
Crawley Town 3 v Wimbledon 1
Injury-hit Wimbledon saw their faint championship hopes finally extinguished as title-favourites Crawley won 3-1 at the Broadfield Stadium on Friday night (18 March).
Without Fraser Franks and Danny Kedwell, who were the latest additions to a growing absentee list, the Dons were forced to play Drewe Broughton up front by himself, with Ed Harris filling in at right-back.
And the Dons got off to the worst possible start, finding themselves 2-0 down after just eight minutes of the game. First the prolific Matt Tubbs connected with a cross at the near post to head across the scrambling Seb Brown.
And then, moments later, a looping Kyle McFadzean header was flapped into the back of the net by the usually reliable Brown as he bumped into Tubbs while attempting to gather the high ball.
Richard Brodie was then booked for diving in the penalty area in an attempt to win a spot kick, but slowly the Dons started to impose themselves on the remainder of the half.
First Harris carried the ball forward from the back and, after the ball ran loose when James Mulley tumbled on the edge of the box, blasted an effort over the bar.
And then Broughton got on the end of a Gareth Gwillim free-kick but his header lacked power and drifted wide of the post.
But it was another Gwillim free-kick in the 39th minute that saw the Dons deservedly pull a goal back, as Brett Johnson rose unmarked to thump home a header and halve the deficit.
Just before half-time Luke Moore released Ryan Jackson on the halfway line, giving the youngster the opportunity to run half the length of the pitch with just one Crawley defender to beat, but referee Stephen Martin blew up for a foul on Moore for which Danny Bulman was shown a straight red card.
And the Dons started the second-half as they finished the first, with Rashid Yussuff dancing past his man in the box before delivering a shot that beat Scott Shearer but ricocheted off the post to the far side of the area where Gwillim saw his follow-up shot hit the other post before bouncing clear.
But the Dons' hard work was undone just moments later when Jackson was dispossessed by Sergio Torres and the ball worked its way to substitute James Dance who shot home from long range.
That goal seemed to knock any optimism out of the Dons. Their only subsequent efforts of note were when Lee Minshull saw his header from a Kirk Hudson right-wing cross blocked by the back of a Crawley defender, and right at the death when Mulley blasted an effort over.
And, to compound their misery, in injury time Mulley was shown a straight red card for a studs-up lunge.
This was the Dons' third defeat in a row and leaves them looking over their shoulders at the play-off chasing pack. They will be hoping to rediscover some form when they entertain Rushden & Diamonds at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (26 March).
Crawley: Shearer, Hunt (Wassmer 90), Smith, Torres, Tubbs (Cook 82), Simpson, Bulman, Mills, Howell, McFadzean, Brodie (Dance 46). Subs not used: Jordan, McAllister.
Goalscorers: Tubbs 5, Brown (og) 9, Dance 53.
Booked: Brodie 19, Hunt 30, McFadzean 89.
Sent-off: Bulman 43.
Wimbledon: Brown, Harris (Hudson 66), Gwillim, Stuart, Johnson, Gregory, Yussuff, Mulley, L. Moore (Kiernan 64), Broughton (Minshull 62), Jackson. Subs not used: Turner, Jones.
Goalscorer: Johnson 39.
Booked: Broughton 15, L. Moore 32, Yussuff 67.
Sent-off: Mulley 90.
Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).
March 20, 2011