Mansfield 1 v Wimbledon 1
Disappointed Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley criticised referee Ross Joyce after his side drew 1-1 at Mansfield Town on Saturday (5 September).
The Dons had striker Lyle Taylor sent off in injury time while a total of seven players from both sides were shown the yellow card.
‘We lost our way half an hour into the game because of the man in the middle,’ Ardley said on BBC London 94.9.
‘There was so much frustration in the players, because they felt it was so one sided, that we forgot to play for a bit.
‘I did say to him [referee Joyce] at half-time that it looked like he was itching to send one of our players off and unfortunately I was proved right.’
Substitute Taylor was shown a straight red for an apparently innocuous tussle with Mansfield’s Nicky Hunt on the touchline that resulted in the Mansfield player rolling on the floor multiple times while clutching his face.
However, Wimbledon have reportedly decided not to appeal against the dismissal.
The game had started in much more positive fashion for the Dons. Sean Rigg, starting in place of the injured Andy Barcham, had already volleyed wide following a knock-on from Bayo Akinfenwa, before the Dons took the lead in the sixth minute.
James Shea’s long kick from hands was only partially cleared by the Mansfield defence and fell to George Francomb. His defence-splitting ball to Tom Elliott gave the striker plenty of time to turn in the D before firing home to put Wimbledon 1-0 ahead.
Elliott continued to be involved, firing into the side netting, but on the half hour the home side levelled. Paul Robinson was booked for a foul 20 yards out, and Chris Clements flighted his free-kick perfectly over the wall and just inside the post to draw his side level.
Wimbledon remained unflustered in the face of Mansfield’s trademark direct approach, even after losing Karleigh Osborne to injury with Will Nightingale stepping up from the bench. And they could have taken the lead again, with Elliott heading wide from a Rigg cross.
Mansfield started the second half more strongly and the Dons needed Robinson to clear off the line after Matt Green won a race for the ball against Shea and Reggie Lambe seized on the chance.
But the Dons still creating chances of their own and should have done better when Rigg’s fierce drive was badly parried by Brian Jensen, only for Elliott to struggle to get over the ball and head the opportunity off target.
Taylor was introduced for the tiring Elliott as Wimbledon took advantage of Mansfield’s increasing lethargy, and Francomb went close with a long-range effort that caught Jensen napping but was off target.
Even after Taylor’s injury-time dismissal there was a final chance for the home side but Clements was unable to replicate his earlier free-kick success, shooting just off target this time.
The Dons travel to Yeovil Town next week before entertaining Notts County at Kingsmeadow on Saturday 19 September.
Mansfield: Jensen, Hunt, Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning, Clements, Chapman, Rose (J. Thomas 85), Lambe (N. Thomas 66), Green, Westcarr (Beardsley 76). Subs not used: Marsden, Collins, Yussuf, McGuire.
Goalscorer: Clements 15.
Booked: Chapman 51, Rose 55, Green 73, Hunt 79.
Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Osborne (Nightingale 30), Robinson, Meades, Francomb, Bulman, Reeves, Rigg, Elliott (Taylor 69), Akinfenwa (Azeez 76). Subs not used: Fitzpatrick, McDonnell, Gallagher, Kaja.
Goalscorer: Elliott 6.
Booked: Robinson 15, Reeves 35, Francomb 45.
Sent off: Taylor 90.