Bury 2 v Wimbledon 2
Wimbledon came from two goals down to force a 2-2 FA Cup draw at Gigg Lane on Saturday (5 November), setting up a fourth meeting between the sides in just a month.
Two scheduled league matches will sandwich this match and its replay after second-half strikes by Lyle Taylor and Tom Elliott salvaged a half-time deficit to keep the Dons in the competition.
With fixtures coming thick and fast – including participation in the nonsensical Checkatrade Trophy – Dons boss Neal Ardley opted to freshen up his side by bringing Chris Robertson, Tyrone Barnett and Tom Beere into the starting line-up.
And the Dons were left disjointed and sluggish as the home side sought to end a sequence of seven successive defeats, with James Shea forced into action to thwart efforts by Hallam Hope and Jacob Mellis, with Hope also shooting narrowly off target.
Although the Dons did enjoy occasional flickers, such as when Beere seized on a defensive mix-up but shot wide, it was unsurprisingly the hosts who took the lead in the 27th minute.
The Dons conceded possession cheaply in midfield and a long ball forward was missed by Paul Robinson, Hope capitalising to sneak in and lob the ball over the head of a furiously backpedalling Shea and into the back of the net.
Minutes later and the hosts were two ahead with a swift counterattack. Goalkeeper Ben Williams released James Vaughan in midfield and he surged forward before sliding the ball through to Hope who drilled home from an angle.
Wimbledon’s sluggish play continued into the start of the second period and it was no surprise when Ardley made an early switch, replacing the out-of-form Barnett with talisman Tom Elliott.
His presence prompted almost immediate rewards as he was involved in the Dons’ first goal, heading down a clearance that allowed Lyle Taylor to be released into acres of space down the left-hand flank.
And Taylor showed plenty of pace to charge all the way into the penalty area before dropping a shoulder to cut inside a defender and unleashing a powerful shot that left Williams grasping thin air.
Dean Parrett and Chris Whelpdale were then introduced from the bench as Wimbledon sought to gain the momentum, with Whelpdale almost immediately forcing a save from Williams.
But with 67 minutes on the clock the Dons were level and it was that man Elliott who got the goal, heading home emphatically a looping Parrett cross after the latter’s initial corner had been cleared back out to him.
Both sides now attempted to settle things on the day, with Shea again forced into action to deny Hope his hat-trick, while at the other end Elliott saw another header saved by Williams.
‘In the first-half we were a little bit too arrogant and we thought we only had to turn up and we would win,’ Ardley commented on the club’s website after the final whistle.
‘We challenged them [at half time] and they went out and did it. We are big on players taking responsibility and we cannot win the game for them. The players just needed to show a bit of pride and put Bury to the sword.’
‘Credit to the boys: they got themselves out of a whole and now they have to go and finish the job.
The sides will now meet again at Kingsmeadow on 15 November for the right to visit one of non-league pair Westfields or Curzon Ashton in the second round. Before then, the Dons travel to Oldham on Saturday 12 November before hosting Bury in the league fixture on 19 November.
Bury: Williams, Danns, Kay, Soares, Leigh, Ismail (Miller 85), Tutte, Mellis, Walker, Hope, Vaughan. Subs not used: Dudley, Burgess, Rachubka, Maher, Bedeau.
Goalscorer: Hope 27, 29.
Booked: Danns 64, Mellis 92.
Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Robinson, Robertson, Meades, Francomb (Whelpdale 64), Reeves, Beere (Parrett 64), Barcham, Barnett (Elliott 55), Taylor. Subs not used: Bulman, Nightingale, Fitzpatrick, McDonnell.
Goalscorers: Taylor 61, Elliott 67.
Booked: Parrett 73, Taylor 79, Robinson 83.
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November 8, 2016