Dons Bounce Back With Deserved Millwall Draw

Wimbledon 2 v Millwall 2

Goals from strike duo Tom Elliott and Lyle Taylor earned Wimbledon a more-than-warranted point as they drew 2-2 with Millwall at Kingsmeadow on Bank Holiday Monday (2 January).

The Dons twice had to come from behind but generally held the upper hand against their south London neighbours, enjoying most the shots and possession while never being able to relax at the back.

Indeed, it took the visitors just five minutes to take the lead. Taylor had already headed into the arms of Millwall keeper Jordan Archer, but then Millwall scored with virtually their first attack as Aiden O’Brien drilled home a shot off the underside of the bar from the edge of the box.

But Wimbledon showed plenty of character to equalise within six minutes. Dean Parrett’s corner was headed back into the mixer by Darius Charles and Taylor was placed to head into the back of the net to make it 1-1.

Both sides enjoyed chances to take the lead as an open game unfurled. Most notably, Parrett shot wide when found in the box by Sean Kelly, while James Shea saved Lee Gregory’s header before watching as Steve Morison headed well off target when he should have done better.

It was Morison who did put his side ahead again just before the break. Confusion in the heart of the Wimbledon defence between Charles and Robinson left Morison free to pick up the loose ball and he capitalised as Shea was obliged to come off his line, keeping calm to lob home.

The Dons bounced back after the break, applying early pressure, and Charles thumped one header over the bar following a Parrett free-kick.

But soon afterwards the Dons were level again, as Taylor was hemmed in by the right corner but managed to deliver a ball in to the near post where Elliott threw himself full-length to head it home.

Next Francomb spurned an opportunity to put Wimbledon ahead, heading over when he had been well placed to capitalise after Elliott did well to prevent a Taylor cross from going out.

But it wasn’t all one-way traffic and Shea had to be alert to prevent a Robinson header from going over his own line, the keeper recovering well to save the follow-up before Jon Meades cleared to concede what was the first of what seemed like dozens of successive corners that all came to nothing.

Despite the introduction of substitutes Tyrone Barnett and Dom Poleon, the match faded away with the winter sunshine, both sides seeming to accept a draw as they entered the closing stages.

‘I thought we were the better team and showed real character to come from behind twice,’ manager Neal Ardley told the club’s website.

‘The boys did not get much time off for Christmas and they were all a bit down after the last two games [defeats at Southend and Bristol Rovers], but we got into them and took some risks with picking the team.’

The Dons travel to Sutton United next weekend for the eagerly anticipated FA Cup third round tie, before a home league encounter with Oxford United on Saturday 14 January.

Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Charles, Robinson, Kelly, Francomb (Poleon 76), Parrett, Reeves, Meades (Bulman 84), Elliott (Barnett 68), Taylor. Subs not used: Beere, McDonnell, Egan, Robertson.

Goalscorers: Taylor 12, Elliott 51.

Millwall: Archer, Cummings, Webster, Hutchinson, Craig, Onyedinma, Thompson (Butcher 87), Williams, O’Brien (Worrall 70), Gregory, Morison. Subs not used: Romeo, Ferguson, Abdou, Smith, King.

Goalscorers: O’Brien 5, Morison 40.

Booked: Morison 74.

Att: 4,742.

By Rob Crane

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January 2, 2017