Last-Gasp Dons Strike Again To Snatch Draw

Northampton 2 v Wimbledon 2

Wimbledon scored deep into injury time for the third game in a row as Sammy Moore’s equaliser saw them snatch a 2-2 draw at struggling Northampton on Tuesday night (25 March).

The Dons had the better of the early exchanges in this encounter but were forced onto the back foot when Jack Midson was sent off for deliberate handball on the half hour, forcing the Dons to play for an hour with 10 men.

Despite gallant efforts, they were trailing 1-2 before Sammy Moore seized on a partially cleared Barry Fuller cross to crack home the equaliser.

It extends an unlikely sequence of late goals for the Dons – having scored in the 97th minute to draw at Burton, the 96th minute to beat Cheltenham, and the 96th minute again in this match – and puts them on the brink of League Two survival.

The Dons again started in a 4-4-2 formation and came out of the blocks in a hurry. Charlie Wyke had already headed wide from a Fuller cross before they took the lead in the 14th minute, an uncharacteristically early goal in a season where the Dons have generally struggled to get going in matches.

The goal came when Sammy Moore and Michael Collins combined to set up Tom Richards, whose cross found George Francomb, the former Norwich man making no mistake to shoot home for his second goal of the season and put the Dons 1-0 up.

Wimbledon’s pressure continued, with Northampton relieved when Leon McSweeney deflected a Francomb cross onto his own bar, but suddenly the hosts were level in dramatic circumstances.

There were claims for a foul on Ross Worner as the goalkeeper jumped to punch the ball but, under pressure from Zander Diamond, the ball deflected towards the Wimbledon goal where it hit Midson on the arm. Despite protestations of innocence, Midson was shown a straight red for deliberate handball to deny a goal. Darren Carter stepped up to convert the resultant penalty and make it 1-1.

Despite their numerical advantage, the home side continued to struggle to make headway, with a Mathias Kouo-Doumbe effort off target and a Sammy Moore block to stop a Gregor Robertson effort either side of the break being rare threatening forays.

And the Dons started coming back into it as an attacking entity, with Andy Frampton heading over from a Francomb corner and Collins having a shot saved by Matt Duke.

But the visitors were stunned when Northampton took the lead with just 12 minutes remaining, a partially cleared cross falling to Carter whose deflected effort found the top corner for his second goal of the game.

Wimbledon responded by bringing on Chris Arthur as their final substitute and switching to a 3-4-2 formation,, an approach that finally got its reward with Sammy Moore’s late, late effort.

Manager Neal Ardley told the club’s official website: ‘We were brilliant. We limited them to very little in the second half and if we had lost that game it would have been very unfortunate.

‘We pressed them, we were resilient, and the players did everything that we set them up to do at half-time.’

The Dons’ League Two survival could be all-but ensured in the coming weeks as they play two sides struggling to avoid the drop, travelling to Mansfield Town on Saturday (29 March) before hosting Bristol Rovers at Kingsmeadow on 5 April. 

Northampton: Duke, McSweeney, Robertson (Horwood 58), Ravenhill, Diamond, Kouo-Doumbe, Hackett, Carter, Sinclair, Connell (C. pez 57), Dickenson (Morris 58). Subs not used: Tozer, Snedker, Deegan, Toney.

Goalscorer: Carter 29 (pen), 79.

Booked: Hackett 51.

Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Richards, S. Moore, Frampton (Antwi 75), Bennett, Francomb (Arthur 81), Morris, Wyke (L. Moore 75), Midson, Collins. Subs not used: Sweeney, Pell, Brown, Nicholson.

Goalscorers: Francomb 14, S. Moore 90.

Booked: Collins 89, Morris 90.

Sent off: Midson 28.

Att: 3,812.

By Rob Crane

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March 23, 2014