Connolly winner rolls back the years as Dons beat Luton

Wimbledon 3 v Luton Town 2

David Connolly’s injury-time winner was enough to give Wimbledon victory as they recovered from conceding a two-goal advantage to beat Luton Town 3-2 at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (21 February).

Veteran striker Connolly came off the bench with the clock ticking down and used his experience to net his first goal since returning to the club in January, slotting home in the third minute of injury time.

And manager Neal Ardley was full of praise for the diminutive Irishman afterwards.

‘I love having David around the place and the lads have got so much respect for him,’ Ardley told the club’s official website.

‘David did what he does best. He reads those types of moments and I’m delighted for him. He has had a tough year in his football career [at Portsmouth] and hopefully he will really enjoy this.’

Wimbledon fans certainly enjoyed the first half as their side stormed to a 2-0 lead against promotion-chasers Luton.

The Dons had the visitors on the back foot right from the start, with Alfie Potter forcing goalkeeper Elliot Justham into his first save of the afternoon with just 25 seconds on the clock.

Craig Tanner also headed wide, while Dannie Bulman forced another Justham save and Adebayo Akinfenwa missed a double-chance, firing against the post and then missing the rebound from close range.

And Potter was next to test the quality of the Kingsmeadow woodwork, hitting the post following a Jake Reeves corner.

The breakthrough finally came just before the half hour. Akinfenwa and Tanner combined well, playing a one-two to create a shooting opportunity, but when Akinfenwa’s shot was palmed away by Justham it was Potter who reacted quickest to get to the loose ball and put the Dons 1-0 ahead.

But there was no slacking by the Dons and just before half-time they were 2-0 ahead. For some months Bulman has been testing his long-range shooting abilities with no reward, but that changed in dramatic fashion when he brought down a partially cleared corner and smashed it home from the edge of the box to get his much-deserved first goal for the club.

But the Dons weren’t to enjoy a two-goal cushion at the break as Luton pulled one back before the interval, Luke Guttridge’s effort being deflected onto the post for Jayden Stockley to prod home.

And with John Still making a half-time tweak to his Luton side’s formation, it was the visitors who enjoyed the ascendency after the restart.

Stockley and Guttridge both had efforts denied, and the Dons survived a strong penalty shout when Stockley tumbled under the challenge of Dave Winfield, only for referee Fred Graham to book the Luton man for diving.

Although Deji Oshilaja headed an effort for the Dons over, it was with a sense of inevitability that Luton equalised in the 67th minute. Bulman’s attempted back pass struck Oshilaja and fell conveniently for Guttridge who released substitute Elliot Lee to slot home past James Shea.

Both sides now pushed for the winner, with Adebayo Azeez going close for the Dons after coming off the bench, but it wasn’t until Connolly’s injury-time moment that the breakthrough came.

It was a goal notable for its simplicity. Shea’s kick was flicked on by Akinfenwa and Connolly scampered in between defender and goalkeeper to nick the ball, rounding Justham before slotting home.

The Dons will attempt to build on this win as they visit Cambridge United (24 February) and Hartlepool United (28 February) in the coming week.

Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Winfield, Oshilaja, Kennedy, Potter (Connolly 89), Bulman, Reeves, Rigg (Beere 74), Tanner (Azeez 80), Akinfenwa. Subs not used: Smith, Francomb, Moore, McDonnell.

Goalscorers: Potter 28, Bulman 42, Connolly 90.

Booked: Oshilaja 45.

Luton Town: Justham, Harriman, Franks, Lacey, Griffiths, McGeehan, Smith, Drury (Lee 64), Guttridge, Oduwa (Lawless 64), Stockley (Wall 86). Subs not used: Howells, Parry, Whalley, Gooch.

Goalscorers: Stockley 45

Booked: Drury 55, Stockley 63, Lee 90.

Att: 4,050

By Rob Crane

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February 23, 2015