Wimbledon 2 v Mansfield 1
Wimbledon continued their recent return to form with a 2-1 win against Mansfield on Good Friday (22 April) that was far more emphatic than the scoreline suggested.
But it took Christian Jolley’s late drive – deflected in off Brett Johnson’s backside – to finally clinch the victory that the Dons’ dominance richly deserved.
Dons’ debutant goalkeeper Jack Turner was rarely troubled by the visitors, who mustered just two shots on target all afternoon. But it was one of those that gave them a surprise lead with quarter of an hour gone as the Dons failed to clear their lines, allowing Tyrone Thompson to stride forward and unleash a drive that Turner had no chance of stopping.
Apart from that, it was all one-way traffic and Mansfield will have been left grateful that the margin of defeat wasn’t greater. Even before the Mansfield opener, Kaid Mohamed had seen one bobbling effort cleared off the line and then produced a tame effort when one-on-one with Neil Collett.
And Sam Hatton had produced a piledriver of a free-kick that Collett did well to turn over from just underneath his bar.
And the Dons’ dominance continued even after the shock of going behind, although it could have been 2-0 when Turner’s clearance rebounded off Luke Medley’s backside and bounced narrowly over the bar.
But it wasn’t until the second period that the Dons pulled level. Jamie Stuart had already seen one thumping header from a corner rebound back off the Mansfield bar, but he made amends when given the opportunity to repeat the attempt after 68 minutes, despite Mansfield protestations of handball.
The Dons claimed a second when Christian Jolley’s header was blocked in the goalmouth by a Mansfield defender, but the referee judged that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.
But there was no doubting the goal when Jolley fired home with just four minutes of normal time remaining, although it was the deflection off Johnson’s posterior that wrong-footed Collett, leaving the Dons pair to argue over who should claim the goal.
There was still time for Stuart to see another header bounce back off the woodwork, but manager Terry Brown will have been pleased with the performance of his side as he rested some players ahead of the play-offs.
To secure the runners-up spot, the Dons now just need one point from two remaining league fixtures, at Forest Green Rovers on Monday (25 April) and at home to Grimsby Town the following Saturday (30 April).
• The Conference play-off dates have yet to be confirmed as outside contenders Darlington are involved in the FA Trophy Final on Saturday 7 May. The Conference is considering a request from Premier Sports to move the first legs from 3 and 4 May to 5 and 6 May – but cannot confirm until Darlington’s fate is known. The second legs will definitely take place on 10 and 11 May.
Wimbledon: Turner, Hatton, Gwillim, Gregory, Stuart, Johnson, Jones (Mulley 60), Yussuff (Minshull 69), Kedwell, Mohamed, L. Moore (Jolley 60). Subs not used: Brown, Kiernan.
Goalscorers: Stuart 68, Jolley 86.
Mansfield Town: Collett, Silk, Spence, Foster, Preece, Smith, Murray, Connor (Higginson 30 (Briscoe 52)), Medley (Istead 81), Cain, Thompson. Subs not used: Grof, Nix.
Goalscorer: Thompson 14.
Booked: Murray 26, Briscoe 74, Istead 84.
Referee: Chris Knowles (Northamptonshire).
April 23, 2011