Second Half Rally Not Enough For Dons

Cheltenham 2 v Wimbledon 1

Wimbledon made a fight of it but ultimately went down to defeat as they lost 2-1 at promotion-chasing Cheltenham Town on Saturday (2 March).

But it took a second-half rally to threaten to grab the Dons a point, after a typical piece of suicidal defending set them on the back foot after just 10 minutes.

The Dons had already threatened to take the lead, with Luke Moore’s early shot blocked, when the Dons defence went to sleep and left Cheltenham centre-back Steve Elliott totally unmarked to head home Billy Jones’ free kick.

The Cheltenham midfield took that as a cue to exert their grip on proceedings and dominated possession. IT wasn’t until just after the half hour that Town keeper Scott Brown was forced into action, saving Chris Hussey’s 30-yard free kick.

Gary Alexander had a couple of chances to get the Dons back on level terms, missing first from a Luke Moore cross and then a Hussey corner.

The Dons came out with renewed vigour in the second period but, as they pressed forward, got caught with a classic counter attack. Russell Penn set up the chance for Darren Carter, and he made not mistake from just inside the area to make it 2-0 to the hosts.

A double substitution by the Dons on the hour brought an instant reward as Brennan Dickenson made an instant impact to reduce the arrears, blasting home after cutting in from the left.

The Dons now pressed forward and Mat Mitchel-King was just off-target with a volley from a Hussey corner, but the golden chance came with quarter of an hour remaining.

Dickenson was again instrumental, cutting in along the goal line and drawing the keeper, but his centre to Jack Midson meant the Dons striker had to stretch for the ball and, with a more-or-less open goal, the effort went over from close range.

Afterwards, Dons manager Neal Ardley was again left frustrated by his team’s inability to focus for the whole 90 minutes.

‘It was a poor start and a spirited finish from us, but you cannot just start a match in the second half,’ he told the club’s official website.

‘We should not have been 2-0 down in the first place and I thought they were two bad goals that we conceded today.

‘We have to get the boys back into shape and get them ready to go again.’

The Dons will be hoping to do that on Saturday as they entertain struggling York City at Kingsmeadow (9 March) but it will be a tough encounter as the Minstermen seek to impress in their first game following the sacking of their manager Gary Mills.

Attendance: 3,177

Cheltenham: Brown, Lowe, Hector, Elliott, Jones, Pack, Taylor, Penn (McGlashan 86), Deering, Carter (Mohamed 71), Benson (Harrison 80). Subs not used: Roberts, Duffy, Harrad, Jombati.

Goalscorers: Elliott 10, Carter 56.

Booked: Carter 49, Penn 82.

Wimbledon: Sullivan, Bennett, Mitchel-King, Balkestein, Hussey, L. Moore (Sainte-Luce 62), S. Moore, Pell, Darko (Dickenson 62), Midson (Strutton 76), Alexander. Subs not used: Jaimez-Ruiz, Cummings, Long, Yussuff.

Goalscorer: Dickenson 63.

Booked: Hussey 49, Balkestein 84, Dickenson 90.

By Rob Crane

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March 3, 2013