Wimbledon 4 v Cheltenham 3
A Jack Midson goal deep into injury time capped a remarkable Wimbledon comeback as the Dons beat Cheltenham Town 4-3 at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (22 March).
The Dons were losing 0-2 and looking lacklustre before suddenly sparking into life, scoring three goals in three minutes – to turn this game on its head.
And, after Cheltenham levelled the scores at 3-3, it was left to the recalled Midson to snatch the victory with the last kick of the game, deep into the seventh minute of added-on time.
The Dons lined-up in this game with a 4-4-2 formation, Alan Bennett being dropped to allow Darren Jones to play at centre-back, and Tom Richards coming back into the stating line-up at left-back. But most of the pre-match attention was on the return up font of out-of-favour Midson, who partnered Charlie Wyke with Danny Hylton relegated to the bench.
But the Dons got off to a disastrous start as they found themselves behind after just four minutes, Cheltenham defender Troy Brown being left almost unchallenged as he met a looping Matt Richards free-kick to head down and past Ross Worner to put the visitors 1-0 ahead.
And it could have been worse in the 18th minute when quick-footed former Kingstonian forward Jemaine McGlashan got the better of Tom Richards only to pull his shot narrowly wide of the Wimbledon goal.
In a first-half of few chances, the closest the Dons came was when Sammy Moore saw an effort just off target, while Peter Sweeney was also just wide with a header.
Dons boss Neal Ardley responded to the lethargy by making a half-time switch, bringing on attacking midfielder Jake Nicholson for his debut, but any hopes of an immediate Wimbledon revival were again snuffed out soon after the re-start when the visitors took a 2-0 lead.
Former Wimbledon man Byron Harrison was instrumental with a direct charge to the by-line that dragged Andy Frampton with him, and the forward was astute to roll the ball into the path of the onrushing McGlashan who blasted it into the back of the net.
Wimbledon finally sparked into life when Ardley made a positive change, bringing on Chris Arthur and Danny Hylton, and switching to a 3-4-3 formation. And it paid off in dramatic fashion as the Dons sprang into life around the 70th minute.
First, Midson in the inside-left channel dipped his shoulder to wrong-foot Michael Ihiekwe before delivering a low cross that Hylton converted with the aid of a deflection.
Second, Nicholson played a clever ball into space for Midson to latch onto, before charging forward and receiving the return pass on the edge of the box and firing home, again with the aid of a deflection.
Third, the Dons took the lead when Wyke cleverly played on Fuller’s long ball to put Hylton clear, the on-loan Rotherham man rounding Scott Brown to complete a remarkable sequence and put the Dons 3-2 ahead.
Joy was quickly tempered as the visitors restored parity, Harrison again using his pace before releasing Jason Taylor whose shot reached the back of the net courtesy of an awkward bounce right on the pitch markings that altered the spin of the ball and bamboozled Worner.
In the circumstances, the Dons might have been content with a draw, but deep into injury time Fuller’s deep cross was won in the air by Wyke and headed back across goal where Midson was given the simple task of flicking the ball into the net from close range to cap a breathless final 20 minutes.
The Dons now go into a sequence of potentially crucial matches against strugglers that could effectively secure their Football League status, as they follow Tuesday night’s trip to Northampton with a visit to Mansfield Town (Saturday 29 March), before hosting Bristol Rovers (Saturday 5 April).
Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Richards (Arthur 54), Sweeney (Nicholson 45), Jones, Frampton, Francomb, S. Moore, Wyke, Midson, Collins (Hylton 67). Subs not used: Bennett, L. Moore, Pell, Brown.
Goalscorers: Hylton 69, 71, Nicholson 70, Midson 90.
Booked: Collins 28, Jones 33, S. Moore 50, Hylton 72.
Cheltenham: S. Brown, Ihiekwe, Jombati, Noble (Vincent 78), T. Brown, Elliott, Taylor, Deering, McGlashan, Harrison, Richards. Subs not used: Cureton, Gornell, Roberts, Kotwica, Braham-Barrett, Brundle.
Goalscorers: Brown 5, McGlashan 49, Taylor 74.
Booked: McGlashan 43, Harrison 44, Taylor 90.
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March 23, 2014