Wimbledon 2 v Wycombe 2
Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley was left to rue his side’s ability to self-destruct as they threw away the lead to draw 2-2 with Wycombe at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (12 January).
The Dons were winning 2-1 at half-time thanks to two Paul McCallum strikes and came out after the break in scintillating form, threatening to overwhelm the visitors.
But, during a rare Wycombe attack, the Dons failed to clear their lines and were left to reflect on what might have been as Wycombe sub Matt McClure fired home to snatch an underserved point for the visitors.
Ardley told the club’s website: ‘I said to the boys at half time that if they [Wycombe] scored then it would be that sort of goal, with us switching off. That’s the way it happened: a poor clearance from us and everything we had talked about happened.
‘It is very frustrating, but at the same time I am very pleased with the way that the boys went about their work.’
And Ardley was right to be pleased as the introduction of debutant Peter Sweeney in midfield helped enhance the manager’s new training-ground regime and saw the Dons produce one of their best displays of the season.
But, this being Wimbledon, they found themselves behind after just eight minutes when Wycombe scored with their first real attack. Veteran Dons keeper Neil Sullivan was left wrongfooted as Jo Kuffour’s ball deflected off Will Antwi and into the back of the net.
It was on-loan West Ham striker Paul McCallum who grabbed the headlines with a brace, but he could have had even more as the Dons threatened to run riot.
First of all he hit the equaliser on the quarter hour, displaying his killer instinct by stabbing home from close range after Sweeney’s corner was flicked on.
And ten minutes later he almost got his second, only to see his firmly struck effort from Luke Moore’s cross cannon back off the woodwork.
Then his persistence almost got its reward as he nipped in between Wycombe defender Stuart Lewis and their goalkeeper Jordan Archer to steal the ball, only to see his attempt to steer the ball into the goal fail as he shot into the side netting with the Wycombe players struggling to recover.
But his reward came just before the break, capping a fine move that saw the Dons sweep the ball down the right flank. Stacy Long played the ball in to McCallum and he turned neatly before despatching the ball into the back of the net.
The Dons turned up the tempo even further after the break, with Chris Hussey – introduced at half-time following his return to the club from Coventry – rampaging down the left and causing the visitors no end of problems.
And it was that man McCallum who came closest, getting in a firm header from Jonathan Meades’ right-wing cross only to see Archer somehow palm the ball away for a corner.
Then out of nothing came that moment of carelessness that has come to typify Wimbledon displays this season. A free-kick into the Dons’ box was headed straight up into the air by Meades and, with the ball bobbling around and Long failing to connect with his attempted clearance, McClure was able to shoot home.
It was tough on the Dons, who slip back into the relegation places thanks to results elsewhere, but there was also plenty in this match to suggest that things are continuing to improve under Ardley’s guidance.
And they’ll be hoping to stretch their unbeaten run to four games when they travel to freefalling Accrington Stanley next weekend, before hosting high-flying Port Vale in a game that has been moved to Thursday 24 January for Sky TV coverage.
Wimbledon: Sullivan, Osano (Hussey 46), Mitchell-King, Antwi, Meades, Long, L. Moore, Sweeney, Ajala, Midson (Prior 88), McCallum (Harrison 73). Subs not used: Jaimez-Ruiz, Balkestein, Fenlon, Kiernan.
Goalscorer: McCallum 15, 41.
Wycombe: Archer, Winfield, Dunne, Harryman, Hause, Lewis, Wood, Grant (Andrade 66), Scowen, Morgan, Kuffour (McClure 66). Subs not used: Harrison, McCoy, Stewart, Ainsworth, Spring.
Goalscorers: Kuffour 8, McClure 72.
By Rob Crane
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January 13, 2013