Arthur Crowns Wimbledon Comeback

Wimbledon 3 v Scunthorpe 2

Wimbledon staged a storming comeback to overturn a two-goal half-time deficit and beat Scunthorpe United 3-2 at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (24 August).

It was substitute Chris Arthur who struck the winner with just minutes remaining to put the seal the comeback, reward for the player’s impressive form since returning to the Football League following his summer arrival from Havant & Waterlooville.

Wimbledon started the game positively and had the better of the opening exchanges, but visibly lost confidence after a defensive calamity gifted the visitors the lead.

Andy Frampton and goalkeeper Ross Worner both went for the same ball which spilled between them. Although Worner recovered to block the first effort, the ball fell to Sam Winnall who made no mistake from close range to make it 1-0 to the visitors.

That goal gave Scunthorpe confidence but Wimbledon soon had a golden opportunity to get back on level terms when Iron defender Niall Canavan inexplicably handled Callum Kennedy’s cross to concede a penalty. Charlie Sheringham stepped up to the spot, but goalkeeper Sam Slocombe guessed correctly and managed to turn away the striker’s effort.

Soon afterwards, the Dons were 2-0 down and it was as a result of another Wimbledon mistake. The Dons conceded possession in midfield after Rhys Weston played Sammy Moore into trouble, allowing Scunthorpe to advance up the left flank from where Andy Welsh’s second-time cross was headed home powerfully by big striker Chris Iwelumo.

Wimbledon’s team were getting visibly fractious with one another, and the home crowd equally so, as they muddled through to half-time. And their mood wasn’t improved when Winnall went close to making it 3-0 soon after the break.

The Dons started the comeback just after the hour. Sheringham battled for the ball from Luke Moore’s cross and it fell kindly for Michael Smith, who fired home from the edge of the area to make it 2-1.

That contribution to the goal was Sheringham’s last as manager Neal Ardley made a double change, bringing on Jack Midson and Chris Arthur and switching to a positive 3-5-2 formation. That helped swing the impetus further in the direction of the hosts, and just over ten minutes later the Dons were level.

The equaliser came when George Porter’s cross fell to Midson and his shot was accidentally blocked by Smith. But this time luck was on the Dons’ side as it fell to Harry Pell who made no mistake to drill home and make it 2-2.

With it increasingly looking as though the Dons might have to settle for a point, Ardley made a last roll of the dice by introducing Kevin Sainte-Luce with five minutes remaining.

The substitution immediately paid off as Sainte-Luce tormented the Scunthorpe defence with a run down the inside-right channel before crossing the ball to Arthur on the far side of the area. The burly midfielder composed himself before calmly rolling the ball into the back of the net courtesy of a deflection that wrong-footed Slocombe.

It was a remarkable turnaround in a game that went from frustration to ecstasy, and reward for the Dons’ positive second-half approach.

Afterwards, manager Ardley told BBC London 94.9: ‘I thought that we started really well. We had that spell where they scored, that knocked the stuffing out of us. We took a while to recover, then we got caught out doing silly things, lost our shape, then we went 2-0 down.

‘Second half we came out, we did really well, got the goal and decided on a tactical substitution, and we thought rather than settle for a 2-2 at home, let’s go for 3-2, and that one’s paid off. It doesn’t always happen but it’s great when it does.’

The Dons will be hoping to maintain their impetus when they entertain hotly tipped Fleetwood Town at Kingsmeadow next week (31 August).

Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Kennedy (Arthur 63), Frampton, Weston, S. Moore, L. Moore, Pell, Sheringham (Midson 63), Porter (Sainte-Luce 85), Smith. Subs not used: Brown, Francomb, Fenlon, Sweeney.

Goalscorers: Smith 62, Pell 75, Arthur 87.

Booked: Pell 23, S. Moore 70, Frampton 82

Scunthorpe: Slocombe, Dawson, Mirfin, Canavan, Nolan, Sparrow, Welsh (Spencer 68), Hawkridge, Collins (McAllister 43), Iwelumo, Winnall (Esajas 90). Subs not used: Severn, Riberio, Howe, Burton.

Goalscorers: Winnall 16, Iwelumo 31.

Booked: Canavan 71, McAllister 85.

Att: 3,865

By Rob Crane

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August 25, 2013