Dons’ League Status Unclear As Possible Points Deduction Mars Win

Plymouth 1 v Wimbledon 2

Kwesi Appiah’s second-half winner appeared to have secured Wimbledon’s Football League future on Monday (21 April) as it clinched a 2-1 win at Plymouth Argyle – only for news to emerge of a potential points deduction that could plunge the Dons back into the mire.

The Dons have been charged with fielding midfielder Jake Nicholson while he was ineligible during last month’s 4-3 win over Cheltenham Town, and now face a league hearing on 28 April.

Although if found guilty a three-point deduction is the most likely outcome, the panel has the power to hand down whatever punishment it deems appropriate. A three-point deduction would mean the Dons are all-but still safe, but anything more could condemn them to another final-day survival battle similar to last season’s against Fleetwood.

The news leaves Wimbledon fans chewing their fingernails despite this creditable win that satisfied manager Neal Ardley.

‘I felt that we were full value for the win today. Everything I asked of the players they gave me, and we could have won by more,’ he told the club’s official website.

‘To put in a performance like that after going one goal behind made it one of our better performances of the season.’

The Dons had fallen behind in just the seventh minute. Although maybe Plymouth’s Conor Hourihane should have been closed down more quickly when he collected a loose ball on the edge of the box, there was little that Ross Worner in the Wimbledon goal could do as the midfielder unleashed a tremendous 30-yard shot into the top-left corner of the goal to put the home side 1-0 ahead.

But the Dons had already shown promise of what was to come as they could have themselves taken the lead in the opening moments of the game, when Jack Midson met Barry Fuller’s cross with an astute header only to see home keeper Jake Cole tip the ball over.

And Wimbledon didn’t allow going a goal behind to deflect them from their task as they continued to press forwards, with Kwesi Appiah cutting inside only to see his shot deflect narrowly wide. And Appiah was again involved as it was his header that set up a chance for George Francomb, only for the midfielder to blaze over the bar.

It was little surprise when the equaliser came, and Appiah was again instrumental. The forward used his pace to bring himself alongside Paul Wotton as they chased a bouncing ball, then his strength to hold off the defender’s attentions, before calmly rolling the ball square to where Midson was waiting to make it 1-1.

The home side came out after the break with renewed vigour, but the Dons withstood it and took the lead on the hour. Tom Richards played a defence-splitting pass that Appiah latched onto before charging clear, angling towards goal and firing low past Cole to put the Dons ahead.

The introduction of forward Danny Hylton for midfielder Aaron Morris signalled Ardley’s intention to continue pressing forwards, and Hylton himself went close to a third when he saw his shot palmed onto the post by Cole.

But at the death Wimbledon were grateful to Worner as he preserved the win by somehow turning Max Blanchard’s piledriver of a shot onto the bar and over.

With the uncertainty of a point deduction hanging over them, Wimbledon will be keen to pick up more points as they entertain Morecambe (Saturday 26 April) before travelling to Accrington Stanley on the final day of the season.

Plymouth: Cole, Gurrieri (Showunmi 69), Parsons, Nelson, Wotton (Blanchard 69), Blizzard, Young, Hourihane, Banton (Morgan 81), Reid, Alessandra. Subs not used: Boco, Harvey, Thomas, Dawson.

Goalscorer: Hourihane 7.

Booked: Wotton 42, Reid 68.

Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Richards, S. Moore, Jones, Frampton, Francomb (Antwi 87), Morris (Hylton 75), Appiah, Midson, Pell (Sweeney 61). Subs not used: L. Moore, Arthur, Brown, Nicholson.

Goalscorers: Midson 42, Appiah 59.

Booked: S. Moore 36, Appiah 90.

Att: 6,618.

By Rob Crane

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April 23, 2014