Hartlepool 3 v Wimbledon 1
Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley was furious with his players for throwing away the chance of victory after ‘silly mistakes’ saw them lose 3-1 at Hartlepool United on Tuesday night (22 October).
In a game never as one-sided as the scoreline suggests, the Dons showed spirit to equalise – but then promptly conceded two soft goals to gift the win to their in-form hosts.
Afterwards, Ardley grumbled on the club website: ‘Once we got back to 1-1 I thought that we would go on and win it. Then we have gone and shot ourselves in the foot.
‘I am quite emotional and gutted because we did everything right in our preparations but we have let ourselves down with silly mistakes.’
And Ardley was particularly irked by Hartlepool’s second, a long-range Luke James header that looped over Ross Worner after the striker had beaten Alan Bennett in the air.
‘It was an awful goal to concede in so many ways. It starts with us having the ball at one end and losing it through bad decisions, and it ends through poor defending.’
The Dons had the better of the possession in the opening half hour, with Harry Pell forcing a save from Hartlepool keeper Scott Flinders, but then went behind in unfortunate circumstances.
Alan Bennett was somewhat harshly judged to have upended James Poole inside the box and Simon Walton stepped up to blast his spot kick into the back of the net and put the home side 1-0 up.
Wimbledon continued to press and came close to an instant equaliser when Michael Smith’s smart turn and shot forced a save from Flinders, and Bennett also went close when unmarked but headed Luke Moore’s corner over the bar.
The Wimbledon possession and pressure continued after the break but they found goalscoring chances hard to come by and it wasn’t until 23 minutes from the end that the Dons finally forced an equaliser.
George Porter displayed his pace down the right and, after cutting into the box, was unceremoniously barged off the ball by Hartlepool defender Jack Baldwin. Now it was the Dons’ chance to convert from the spot in emphatic style, which was duly accomplished by Harry Pell.
But that’s when Ardley’s agony started to kick in.
Just minutes later, a harmless looking long ball up the middle from Walton was challenged for on the edge of the box by James and Bennett, with the ball won by the Hartlepool man and looping over Worner to restore the hosts’ lead.
And it got even worse 11 minutes later when Matthew Dolan was given space outside the box and fired his effort through a host of bodies and under the sprawling Worner into the back of the net.
After that, there was no coming back for Ardley’s deflated men.
Wimbledon had once again turned in a neat-enough performance but suffered for being unable to carve out enough goalscoring opportunities of their own while simultaneously looking porous at the back.
They have the opportunity to return to winning ways on Saturday when they entertain Oxford United at Kingsmeadow.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Duckworth, Baldwin, Burgess, Austin, Franks (Richards 80), Walton, Dolan, Poole (A. Sweeney 87), James, Monkhouse. Subs not used: Collins, Rafferty, Holden, Rodney, Walker.
Goalscorers: Walton 32 (pen), James 72, Dolan 83.
Booked: Monkhouse 42, Walton 74.
Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Bennett, Weston, Fenlon, Porter, S. Moore, Pell (Strutton 73), L. Moore (Sainte-Luce 69), P. Sweeney, Smith. Subs not used: Kennedy, Francomb, Midson, Antwi, Brown.
Goalscorer: Pell 66 (pen).
Booked: P. Sweeney 89.
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October 25, 2013