Brown Howler Costs Dons Dear

Wimbledon 1 v Coventry 3

A Seb Brown howler cost Wimbledon potential FA Cup victory as they lost 1-3 to Coventry City at Kingsmeadow in Friday night (9 November).

Brown was thrown into action when regular first-choice keeper Ros Worner was delayed getting to the ground by a bad traffic accident that also caused kick-off to be put back to 8 pm.

The Dons were winning 1-0 and looking more than comfortable against their in-form League One visitors when Brown’s error gifted Coventry an equaliser.

There appeared to be little threat as Cyrus Christie’s deep cross was heading straight into the arms of an unchallenged Brown. But the ball bounced up and out of Brown’s clutch. The keeper recovered to sprawl and stop the ball from crossing the line but had to release it before carrying it into the back of his own net, leaving Coventry’s Callum Wilson with a simple conversion.

The mistake turned the tide of the game and moments later the visitors were ahead for the first time before a fortunate third goal gave the scoreline a somewhat harsh look for the Dons.

But boss Neal Ardley refused to publicly blame Brown afterwards, preferring to focus on what was a good all-round Wimbledon performance.

He told the club’s official website: ‘Seb has made a mistake and we have to live with that. Goals change games, but that was as good a performance as we have produced since I have been here.

‘The football that we played was outstanding. On another day we would have won with that display.’

Indeed, the Dons looked more than comfortable against their League One opponents, producing a display that focused on sitting deep and winning the second ball in midfield before counterattacking.

With George Porter causing City left-back Blair Adams no end of problems, it was the on-loan Burnley man who was at the heart of the Dons’ best first-half chances.

First Porter whipped in a near-post cross that Michael Smith did very well to flick back to Harry Pell, who forced an outstanding reflex save from Coventry keeper Joe Murphy who somehow palmed it over for a corner.

From the follow-up Porter corner, Coventry survived claims for a penalty when Jordan Clarke appeared to block the ball with his hand before the visitors’ defence managed to scramble it clear.

Man-of-the-match Murphy was again in action before the break to produce another excellent save to deny Smith following good approach work by the Dons that culminated with Peter Sweeney releasing the striker.

Murphy denied Smith again soon after the break, this time with his feet following a Francomb cross, as the Dons continued their impressive performance into the second half.

But it wasn’t all one-way action, with Wilson bursting through and Barry Fuller relieved to see a deflection from his attempted tackle bounce off the post with Brown beaten.

And moments later the Dons were ahead, capitalising on a sloppy pass out of defence that went straight to Porter. Porter ran at his man before turning outside, feinting to play the ball to the overlapping Fuller and instead delivered a perfect near-post cross that Smith met emphatically to deservedly put the Dons 1-0 ahead.

Then came Brown’s mistake, followed up just three minutes later when Coventry went ahead, Franck Moussa deceiving Fuller by the corner flag before crossing for Carl Baker to convert on the hour.

That quick about-turn in their fortunes seemed to knock much of the momentum out of the Dons, and it was 3-1 to the visitors when a free-kick from Baker that was going well wide took a cruel deflection off Callum Kennedy and went straight into the back of the net.

Wimbledon’s hopes faded further when they changed shape, Jack Midson coming on to replace Harry Pell, after which the Dons started conceding much more of the ball in midfield, although it was Midson who came closest to snatching another goal for the Dons when his snap-shot forced another excellent save from Murphy.

Dons fans left this game thinking of what might have been but for Brown’s lapse but also reflecting on what had at times been an excellent performance from their team.

They get the chance to see whether it can be replicated when Portsmouth visit Kingsmeadow in the league next Saturday (16 November).

Wimbledon: Brown, Fuller, Bennett, Frampton, Kennedy, S. Moore, Porert, Pell (Midson 73), Sweeney, Francomb (L. Moore 70), Smith. Subs not used: Worner, Fenlon, Sainte-Luce, Sheringham, Weston.

Goalscorer: Smith 54.

Coventry: Murphy, Christie, J. Clarke, Webster, Adams, Baker, C. Thomas, Barton, Moussa (Phillips 86), Wilson, L. Clarke. Subs not used: Burge, Garner, Haynes, Maund, G. Thomas, Baker-Richardson.

Goalscorers: Wilson 57, Baker 60, Kennedy (o.g.) 70.

Booked: Christie 68.

Attendance: 3,379

By Rob Crane

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November 8, 2013