Wimbledon 0 v Northampton Town 1
A late handball by Chris Robertson cost Wimbledon dear as they lost 1-0 at home to fellow mid-table side Northampton Town on Saturday 11 March.
There appeared little danger in the 86th minute when a deep cross was lofted towards the far post but Robertson inexplicably stuck up a hand to concede a penalty, with Matty Taylor sending James Shea the wrong way to snatch all three points for the visitors.
It was a tough outcome for the Dons from an evenly contested match that had ‘draw’ written all over it.
Afterwards manager Neal Ardley rued the lost point. ‘It is a stupid penalty. “Robbo” puts his hands up in the area and when you punch a ball away in mid-air it is going to be a penalty,’ he told DonsPlayer.
‘I am not going to stand here and dress it up. We played some good stuff in the first-half but we lacked a cutting edge. We never really looked like we were going to score. In the end, we should be saying it is a 0-0 draw and we move on.’
They started this match replicating the 3-5-2 that had served so well in the midweek win at Scunthorpe, but with Robertson, Dean Parrett, Andy Barcham and Lyle Taylor all recalled as Ardley aimed to keep the squad fresh.
The visitors forged the first notable scoring opportunity, Luke Williams dragging an effort off target. Tom Soares – starting to show the form that attracted attention at Bury – had the first chance for the Dons but his 25-yard effort was just wide.
Centre-back Darius Charles also had a notable opportunity, seeing his shot from a corner blocked, while Dom Poleon was thwarted by a well-timed Zander Diamond challenge.
Northampton’s ventures forward had been relatively few during the first period, but they rounded it off by fashioning two chances, first a Matty Taylor free-kick that was narrowly off target and then a Michael Smith effort wide.
The Dons lost Soares through injury at half-time, Dannie Bulman replacing him, but came out with a visible determination to up the tempo.
The closest they came was through centre-back pair Will Nightingale and Charles, who both saw efforts from corners go wide of the target.
And Wimbledon had a penalty appeal of their own turned down when Lyle Taylor’s cross appeared to be deliberately blocked by a covering defender.
With time drifting away and a draw becoming the increasingly probable outcome came Robertson’s moment of recklessness that was so keenly snapped up by the visitors.
This defeat ends Wimbledon’s unbeaten home run, which stretched back to October, but both clubs stay in mid-table.
Wimbledon: Shea, Nightingale, Robertson, Taylor (Elliott 69), Francomb (Meades 69), Barcham, Soares (Bulman 45), Parrett, Reeves, Charles, Poleon. Subs not used: Robinson, Kelly, Barnett, McDonnell.
Booked: Francomb 58.
Northampton: A. Smith, Phillips, Nyatanga, Diamond (McDonald 77), Buchanan, Williams (P. Anderson 80), O’Toole, Taylor, Wylde (K. Anderson 56), M. Smith, Richards. Subs not used: Moloney, McCourt, Beautyman, Cornell.
Goalscorer: Taylor 86 (pen).
Booked: Phillips 37.
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March 17, 2017