Last-Gasp Pilgrims Leave Dons Cursing

Wimbledon 1 v Plymouth 1

Plymouth’s late equaliser denied Wimbledon only their third win since the end of September as the two sides drew 1-1 at Kingsmeadow on Boxing Day.

Michael Smith had given the Dons a deserved lead soon after the break only for the visitors to grab a draw with just minutes remaining when Reuben Reid produced a good finish to snatch a share of the spoils.

Dons boss Neal Ardley had responded to his side’s recent run of poor results by changing formation to three at the back, with Jim Fenlon and Callum Kennedy as wing-backs and Charlie Sheringham pushed up front alongside Michael Smith and Luke Moore playing in the hole behind them.

And for the first half of this game it produced results, as the Dons suddenly clicked and started finding each other with passes and getting numerous dangerous crosses into the box.

They were on the front foot from the off and could have taken a second-minute lead when Kennedy’s cross was headed back across goal only for Sheringham to put his effort narrowly over the bar.

But Plymouth also showed glimpses of their recent impressive form, with Caolan Lavery and Lewis Alessandra both threatening Ross Worner’s goal.

The stand-out opportunity of the half came when Sheringham played a defence-splitting through ball to Smith. However, the ball failed to settle for the on-loan Charlton man, gaving Luke McCormick the opportunity to narrow the angle and keep the score level.

Sheringham again went close to his first Wimbledon goal when he forced McCormick to gather following a header, but Worner also had to be alert at the other end to deny Alessandra’s carefully placed effort.

Wimbledon had had the better of the first period but much of that promise was negated in the second period when Plymouth changed their approach to counteract the Dons’ formation.

But ironically it was just minutes into the half that the Dons took a deserved lead. Peter Sweeney ventured forward down the left flank and played a clever one-two with Kennedy before whipping in a perfect cross for Smith to head home and put the Dons 1-0 ahead.

The tone for the remainder of the game was set as Plymouth immediately started pushing bodies forward to try and gain an equaliser. Just moments had passed since the Dons took the lead when Alessandra missed a glorious opportunity by firing over from close range.

Reid then saw a header deflected narrowly over for a corner before the striker forced a smart save from Worner with a long-range, firmly struck effort.

But Reid wasn’t to be denied and moments from the end he capitalised when Andy Frampton allowed Ben Purrington’s deep cross to run across him and into Reid’s path, who fired home from a narrow angle and make it 1-1.

Wimbledon tried to rally and tilt the balance of the game back in their favour, but in truth failed to create much in the way of good opportunities. The disappointment of emerging without a win was enough to counterbalance the encouraging signs offered by the Dons early play in this game.

They will be hoping to pick up more luck when they travel to Dagenham & Redbridge on New Year’s Day, followed by a visit to Wycombe on Saturday 4 January.

Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller (Antwi 68), Bennett, Frampton, Kennedy, Fenlon, S. Moore, Sweeney, L. Moore (Francomb 87), Sheringham (Midson 71), Smith. Subs not used: Sainte-Luce, Porter, Brown, Mohamed.

Goalscorer: Smith 47.

Booked: Midson 76.

Plymouth: McCormick, Blanchard, Trotman, Nelson, Purrington, Gurrieri (Berry 59), Blizzard, Hourihane, Alessandra (Obadeyi 81), Reid, Lavery (Thomas 81). Subs not used: Cole, Boco, Young, Wotton.

Goalscorer: Reid 88.

Booked: Berry 75.

Attendance: 4,763

By Rob Crane

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December 30, 2013