Wimbledon 1 v Charlton 1
Tom Elliott scored an injury-time equaliser as shot-shy Wimbledon salvaged a draw against Charlton Athletic at Kingsmeadow last Saturday (8 February).
A much-improved second-half performance after a dismal first period looked set to leave the Dons unrewarded until the striker latched on to a Tyrone Barnett flick and shot home from a narrow angle.
But his joy was short-lived as his celebrations in front of the main stand earned him a second booking and a red card from referee Carl Boyeson.
‘I’ve watched it back and Tom is a yard and a half off the pitch with six players around him and fans grabbing hold of him,’ Neal Ardley said on DonsPlayer. ‘If every referee did that, we would probably lose a player every game.’
On the first half, Ardley said: ‘When there is anxiety in the group you start to function like individuals and it looks like the opposition have two or three more players on the pitch.
‘At half-time we had to not rant and rave, but take the anxiety away from them and work out how we were going to cause [Charlton] a problem.
‘I thought that the energy and desire in the second-half was exceptional.’
The Dons fell behind in just the eighth minute when Joe Aribo flopped over Chris Robertson’s outstretched leg on the edge of the area, earning the Scottish defender a soft booking.
And Wimbledon’s punishment was compounded when Ricky Holmes – a nemesis of Wimbledon’s dating back to his non-league Chelmsford days – lofted a free-kick over the wall and into the back of the net.
Charlton could have been three up as they continued to press, with Aribo making a more conventional contribution by striking just wide and then capitalising on defensive hesitancy but lobbing straight into James Shea’s upstretched hands.
The first-half was pretty much one-way traffic, and Aribo again should have done better, forcing a good save for Wimbledon.
On one of the rare occasions when Wimbledon did threaten, Holmes curtailed the attacking impetus by scything down Lyle Taylor from behind, a challenge that earned him a yellow card when many were expecting a red.
The enforced departure through injury of Barry Fuller at half-time prompted Wimbledon to revert to a 4-4-2 formation, and this maybe helped them gain the impetus somewhat after the interval.
They could have equalised when Robertson’s header went narrowly wide, but at the other end Shea was again called into action to produce a full-length fingertip save to deny Tony Watt.
Successive efforts by Taylor, Dom Poleon, Taylor again, and then Jake Reeves all failed to produce a reward as the Dons, despite their improved performance, managed just one effort on target – until Elliott’s dramatic leveller.
The nerves of visiting manager Karl Robinson – formerly of Milton Keynes Dons – were perhaps frayed by the late nature of that goal as he had to be restrained by stewards after the final whistle after threatening to retaliate physically to something said by a Wimbledon volunteer.
Given the nature of the overall performance, no doubt his side will regard this as two points dropped, whereas Wimbledon fans were celebrating what until the dying moments had seemed like defeat.
Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller (Barcham 45), Robertson, Robinson, Kelly, Francomb, Soares, Reeves, Taylor, Elliott, Poleon (Barnett 83). Subs not used: Bulman, McDonnell, Egan, Owens, Sibbick.
Goalscorer: Elliott 92.
Booked: Robertson 8, Reeves 26, Taylor 87, Elliott 66, 93.
Sent off: Elliott 93.
Charlton: Rudd, Solly, Bauer, Teixeira, Chicksen, Konsa, Crofts, Aribo, Holmes (Mavididi 79), Novak (Magennis 56), Watt (Botaka 74). Subs not used: Jackson, Phillips, Ahearne-Grant, Dasilva.
Goalscorer: Holmes 8.
Booked: Konsa 11, Holmes 37, Chicksen 48.
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February 14, 2017