Elliott Keeps Wimbledon Rolling With Bolton Leveller

Bolton Wanderers 1 v Wimbledon 1

Tom Elliott’s header late in the first half gave Wimbledon a more-than-deserved point at promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers on Saturday (4 March).

The draw rounded off a creditable week for the Dons, who beat in-form Walsall and Bolton’s fellow promotion-challengers Scunthorpe before Saturday’s match.

‘It’s been a really good week,’ boss Neal Ardley said during a DonsPlayer interview. ‘We have to keep it going now. We have some big games coming up.

‘We cannot guarantee results but we have to keep the momentum and the spark about us. If we can do that, hopefully we can finish the season strongly.’

The Dons certainly showed their rediscovered mental resilience in this match as they recovered from going a goal behind on the quarter hour.

James Shea had already been forced into a third-minute save to deny Bolton defender David Wheater, palming his header off the line.

But there was nothing Shea could do with Gary Madine’s opener as he got ahead of Darius Charles to head home a corner from close to the penalty spot.

The Dons’ response was immediate with Dom Poleon at the heart of things, seeing an effort following a run down the flank blocked and then shooting wide.

And Poleon came close again midway through the period when George Francomb’s effort was blocked but ballooned up into the air. Elliott’s follow-up header fell for Poleon but he had to wait for it to drop before unleashing a half volley, giving Bolton keeper Ben Alnwick time to adjust.

Wimbledon got the goal their reaction deserved six minutes before the break. Francomb delivered a first-time cross from the right that a back-pedalling Elliott did well to redirect into the bottom left corner.

Bolton came out fired up after the break, and having shown their attacking resilience in the first-half it was now time for the Dons to show their defensive resolve, and they did it admirably.

In the 47th minute Filipe Morais put in a 25-yard free-kick that Shea did exceptionally well to turn onto the woodwork.

Tom Thorpe and Morais again both fired narrowly off target, but as Wimbledon dug in the hosts were forced into efforts from longer range, with Josh Vela piling one off target.

The Dons’ most significant second-period effort came when Jon Meades – back in the starting line-up after a lengthy injury lay-off – evaded the offside trap but headed tamely at Alnwick.

Wimbledon now face two successive home matches, against Northampton Town on Saturday (11 March) before the all-ticket home game against Milton Keynes on Tuesday 14 March.

The club will be hosting a fans’ forum in the build-up to the Milton Keynes match to explain the security measures being introduced for the encounter. The meeting will take place at Kingsmeadow on Thursday 9 March, starting at 7.30 pm.

Bolton: Alnwick, Wheater, Dervite, Beevers, Morais, Derik, Vela, Thorpe (Henry 64), A. Taylor, Madine, Le Fondre. Subs not used: Moxey, Solomon-Otabor, Clayton, Wabara, Howard, Wilkinson.

Goalscorer: Madine 15.

Wimbledon: Shea, Charles, Robinson, Bulman, Francomb, Nightingale, Reeves, Soares, Meades (Kelly 87), Poleon (Taylor 71), Elliott (Barnett 86). Subs not used: Parrett, Fitzpatrick, McDonnell, Robertson.

Goalscorer: Elliott 39.

Booked: Soares 66.

Att: 13,599.

By Rob Crane

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March 6, 2017