AFC Wimbledon 0 v Milton Keynes 2
AFC Wimbledon are facing a Football League probe following their 0-2 home defeat against Milton Keynes on Friday (22 September) – because they didn’t include ‘Dons’ in the visitors’ name on the electronic scoreboard.
The decision not to include the controversial suffix was one of a number of decisions aimed at respecting the sensitivities of home supporters still raw from the circumstances surrounding the ‘franchising’ of the old Wimbledon FC’s league place to Milton Keynes in 2002. It follows the ‘Drop the Dons’ campaign mounted by Wimbledon fans in recent years.
The measure was one of several that replicated those taken for last season’s equivalent fixture to reduce the potential for people to get caught up in heightened passions, including naming neither club on the front cover of the programme, a large-scale police presence, imposition of ‘bubble match’ ticketing restrictions for visiting fans, who were bussed to and from the away entrance, and the visitors’ directors declining hospitality.
But the failure to name the visitors in full was enough to earn the ire of the EFL who said in a statement: ‘The failure to recognise Milton Keynes Dons in the correct manner causes reputational issues for the EFL as well as creating the potential for unrest amongst MK Dons supporters and, as such, is of concern for the EFL.
‘All clubs are required to behave towards one another with the “utmost good faith” and not to “unfairly criticise, disparage, belittle or discredit” any other club.
‘The EFL Board will request the observations of AFC Wimbledon at the earliest possible opportunity. If the club is charged with a breach of EFL regulations then the matter would be referred to a Disciplinary Commission.’
While the EFL statement was widely mocked on social media, it helped refocus some of the sting felt following this home defeat and the loss through injury of Kwesi Appiah.
The visitors took the lead after just seven minutes when Osman Sow became the latest to exploit the Dons’ weakness down the right, scampering clear of Paul Robinson before delivering a low cross that George Francomb deflected into his own net.
They repeated the trick 20 minutes later, although this time it was Scott Golbourne leaving Barry Fuller befuddled before delivering a low cross that wasn’t cleared before falling to Gboly Ariyibi, who converted clinically.
The home side were enjoying the majority of the possession but failing to make the most of it, most notably when Dean Parrett’s free-kick was headed against the bar by an unmarked Deji Oshilaja.
Lee Nicholls in the visitors’ goal did well to tip over a fierce Lyle Taylor drive in the second period, and the pair were again involved when Nicholls saved Taylor’s penalty after Golbourne handballed in the area.
And the visitors would have made it more emphatic but for Dons goalkeeper George Long who somehow kept out substitute Robbie Muirhead’s diving header when it seemed destined to nestle in the back of the net.
There was still time for Nicholls to save again, this time from Dons substitute Cody McDonald, but ultimately the away side won a victory that few will see as significant in the grand scheme of things, with the EFL’s bizarre stance only serving to remind people of the circumstances surrounding their existence.
Wimbledon will enjoy returning to more traditional opposition when they travel to Southend United on Tuesday (26 September) before hosting Rochdale (Saturday 30 September).
Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Oshilaja, Robinson (Charles 82), Francomb, Parrett (Forrester 61), Hartigan, Trotter, Barcham, Taylor, Appiah (McDonald 32). Subs not used: Abdou, Soares, Kaja, McDonnell.
Booked: Hartigan 18, Francomb 52, Fuller 55.
Milton Keynes: Nicholls, Brittain, Williams, Wootton, Golbourne, Cissé, Seager (Agard 71), Tshibola (Ebanks-Landell 87), Gilbey, Ariyibi, Sow (Muirhead 66). Subs not used: Lewington, Sietsma, McGrandles, Nesbitt.
Goalscorers: Francomb (o.g.) 7, Ariyibi 26.
Booked: Tshibola 51, Muirhead 76.
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September 26, 2017