Bristol Rovers 3 v Wimbledon 0
Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley apologised to his club’s travelling fans after they saw the Dons go down 3-0 at Bristol Rovers on Saturday (30 November).
Ardley’s men were 2-0 down by half-time and the scoreline was complete when a late penalty helped bring an end to the Dons’ recent improvement in performances.
The Dons boss told the club’s official website: ‘I apologise to the fans because we were poor today. We let our standards slip and I must apologise to the fans that made the trip. Ultimately, I have to take the rap for that.’
But Ardley was also frustrated by a first-half ‘penalty that never was’ when referee Gavin Ward failed to give the Dons a spot kick as Tom Parkes clattered into Michael Smith as he was through on goal.
‘The referee told me in the tunnel that he thought he saw something, but I think he made a decision based on a guess. He has penalised our striker even though he was not sure, which is ludicrous. It was a clear-cut penalty and most of the fans in the ground thought it was.’
The Dons had the better of the opening exchanges and could have gone ahead when Kaid Mohamed chested down Callum Kennedy’s cross only to produce a comparatively tame effort that Steve Mildenhall held comfortably.
Then came the moment of controversy between Parkes and Smith which only seemed to fire the hosts into life as, minutes later, they were ahead. David Clarkson did well to control a loose ball on the edge of the box, heading it into his own path before firing home from range to put Rovers 1-0 ahead.
And on the half hour it was 2-0 as Lee Brown’s corner was headed home emphatically by Parkes at the far post.
The Dons changed approach at half-time as they attempted to stem the tide, but it was Mitch Harding who went closest to getting the next goal as he was allowed time in the box to spin and fire an effort into the side netting.
Any hope the Dons might have had was effectively extinguished in the 82nd minute when Sammy Moore, who had already been booked, slid into a challenge that produced a second caution for the midfielder.
And the ten men suffered further misery when Andy Frampton bundled over Ellis Harrison and Matt Harrold was able to convert the spot kick to make it 3-0.
The Dons have a blank weekend due to their early FA Cup exit before returning to league action the following week as they entertain Mansfield Town at Kingsmeadow.
• Dons fans supporting the club’s proposed return to Wimbledon have set up a website to canvas support – visit http://bringthedonshome.org for more information.
Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall, Smith, Brown, Lockyer, Packwood, Parkes, Richards (Harrison 84), Norburn (Clarke 69), Harrold, Harding, Clarkson. Subs not used: Gough, Green, Keary, Southway, Lucas.
Goalscorers: Clarkson 19, Parkes 31, Harrold 89 (pen.).
Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Kennedy (Sainte-Luce 73), Sweeney (L. Moore 46), Bennett, Frampton, Mohamed, S. Moore, Smith, Pell, Porter (Midson 64). Subs not used: Fenlon, Sheringham, Brown, Weston.
Booked: Sweeney 18, S. Moore 41, 82, Porter 63, Mohamed 76, Pell 87.
Sent off: S. Moore 82.
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December 4, 2013