Wimbledon 2 v Port Vale 2
A sloppy backpass by Mat Mitchel-King denied Wimbledon a potentially vital win last Thursday (24 January) as they threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 against league leaders Port Vale.
Just shy of the hour mark, and with Wimbledon leading 2-1, the Dons captain played a weak backpass that was intercepted by Vale’s Tom Pope, who evaded the desperate Neil Sullivan before slotting home from a narrow angle.
After that it was backs-to-the-wall defending from the Dons, but they survived to claim a point that, while creditable against the top side, nevertheless felt disappointing after being two goals ahead.
And Mitchel-King apologised to Dons fans afterwards through the Hounslow Chronicle. ‘It was definitely my fault,’ admitted the former Crewe man.
‘I tried to play the ball back [to Sullivan] but I haven’t made good enough contact, and their player gambled and finished well from a tight angle.’
It was a calamitous moment that again undid a Wimbledon display that, until then, had shown signs of promise.
Starting with two strikers up front, they took the lead after just eight minutes when Jack Midson sidefooted home Jim Fenlon’s low cross from the right after the youngster had been played in by Jonathan Meades.
Although the Dons looked rampant at that stage, it wasn’t all one-way traffic, and veteran Sullivan had to be alert to palm away a Ryan Burge effort as the visitors came back into it.
But the Dons went 2-0 up after 42 minutes when Pim Balkestein was pulled down in the box following a Luke Moore corner, with Midson stepping up to blast home his second of the game.
The two-goal advantage didn’t last long as the visitors pulled one back almost immediately, with debutant Daniel Jones unleashing a 30-yard effort that had Sullivan unsighted as it just sneaked inside the post.
The Dons came out after the break keen to restore their advantage and were unlucky to be denied a second penalty when Midson appeared to be bundled over in the box.
And shortly afterwards the visitors were level, as leading goalscorer Pope took advantage of Mitchel-Kings error.
With the Dons visibly tiring and the Vale looking to capitalise on their superior fitness, Neal Ardley’s mean spent much of the remainder of the game entrenched in their own half, with all every man contributing to the defensive effort.
But Sullivan was in particularly fine form, stopping a Lee Hughes effort and a Jennison Myrie-Williams free-kick as the Dons held on for a point.
The Dons remain unbeaten in 2013 but results elsewhere over the weekend mean that they now prop up the League Two table, albeit with two games in hand over many of the teams above them.
They’ll be hoping that the recent resurgence in form is accompanied by a more positive result when they host Burton Albion at Kingsmeadow next Saturday (2 February) before travelling for the reverse fixture at Port Vale on Tuesday.
Wimbledon: Sullivan, Balkestein, Mitchel-King, Fenlon, Meades (Long 78), Hussey, Sweeney, Ajala (S. Moore 64), Midson, L. Moore, McCallum (Harrison 75). Subs not used: Jaimez-Ruiz, Cummings, Yussuff, Prior.
Goalscorer: Midson 8, 42 (pen).
Booked: Ajala 20.
Port Vale: Neal, Purse, Duffy, Chilvers, Jones, Loft (Morsy 82), Myrie-Williams, Burge, Vincent (Andrew 75), Pope, Hughes (Williamson 75). Subs not used: Johnson, Yates, Shuker, Birchall.
Goalscores: Jones 44, Pope 58.
Booked: Chilvers 41, Loft 71.
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January 27, 2013