Northhampton Town 1 v Wimbledon 1
Lyle Taylor’s superb 15th goal of the season was enough to give Wimbledon a deserved point as they drew 1-1 at runaway league leaders Northampton on Tuesday (1 March).
The in-form front man scored just after the hour mark, leaving defenders in his wake as he surged into the penalty area from the left touchline before firing a rocket shot across into the far top corner of the goal.
It was no less than the Dons deserved as they extended their remarkable away record to 10 games undefeated, with six wins and four draws.
‘We had great attacking play, loads of pace going forward, and the boys gave everything,’ boss Neal Ardley enthused on the club’s website. ‘That was as entertaining a game in League Two as I have been a part of. Neither side really deserved to lose it.’
The home side are odds-on for automatic promotion and went into this game with a 10-point gap at the top of the table, but the Dons weren’t overawed.
They signalled their intention early on as Tom Elliott latched on to a long George Francomb ball down the flank to surge forward, but he was shepherded wide and ended up shooting tamely at keeper Adam Smith from a narrow angle.
The home side threatened through Nicky Adams, who fired over the bar as play switched from end to end, before Taylor replicated Elliott’s earlier opportunity by seizing another Francomb pass before also firing at Smith.
The Dons finally managed to exert a spell of sustained pressure around the half hour mark with a succession of corners, but predictably play soon switched back to the other end where Kelle Roos produced the save of the match to dive low and palm away a James Collins’ header that seemed destined for the back of the net.
On the stroke of half-time the Dons fell behind when Joel Byrom’s corner was converted at the far post by the late-arriving John-Joe O’Toole, who slid in to prod the ball home.
The Dons came out after the break with renewed vigour, Paul Robinson forcing a low-down save from Smith, but they were initially unable to find the equaliser.
And at the other end it needed Barry Fuller to be alert to clear a Zander Diamond header off the line.
That effort was rewarded when Taylor grabbed his goal to draw the teams level, picking up the ball just shy of the halfway line before embarking on his driving run towards the area and coolly finishing to produce a goal that Ardley described as ‘breath-taking’.
The visitors were full of beans now and forced Northampton back, with Taylor seeing another goal-bound effort blocked, Andy Barcham heading narrowly over, and Robinson heading against the post with Elliott’s follow-up flapped out by Smith.
But it wasn’t all one-way traffic as Dannie Bulman blocked a shot and from the follow-up Northampton appealed for a penalty as one of their forwards ran over the already-prostrate Roos.
Ultimately the Dons deserved at least a point from the encounter, and now have a win, a draw and a defeat from their sequence of five games against some of League Two’s toughest. That sequence continues on Saturday (5 March) when they host Accrington Stanley at Kingsmeadow before rounding off with a Tuesday-night trip to Bristol Rovers (8 March).
Northampton: Smith, Moloney, Diamond, Prosser, Buchanan, Byrom, O’Toole, D’Ath, Holmes, Adams (Marquis 69), Collins. Subs not used: Taylor, Cresswell, Lelan, L. Martin, Rose, Clarke.
Goalscorer: O’Toole 45.
Booked: Prosser 27.
Wimbledon: Roos, Fuller, Sweeney, Robinson, Meades, Francomb, Bulman, Reeves, Barcham (Rigg 88), Elliott, Taylor (Azeez 87). Subs not used: Shea, Kennedy, Akinfenwa, Smith, Fitzpatrick.
Goalscorer: Taylor 62.
Booked: Elliott 21, Meades 70, Fuller 92.