Dons Boss Makes Changes After Stanley Defeat

Accrington 3 v Wimbledon 2

Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley promised ‘things have to change’ after watching his side lose their final game of the season 3-2 at Accrington Stanley on Saturday (3 May) – and was as good as his word days later as he announced which players he’s releasing.

The Dons were 3-0 down with quarter of an hour remaining at Accrington before staging a late rally to bring it back to 3-2, but that wasn’t enough to placate the angry Wimbledon manager who blamed his side’s ‘weak mentality’.

‘To perform like we did in the last 30 minutes shows everything that was wrong in the first 60 minutes,’ he told the club’s official website.

‘The players that are here next season will get told what is expected of them in no uncertain terms during their [end-of-season] reviews. I will be hard on them and I won’t stand for performances like that again.’

The players who won’t get the chance to put things right, having been released by the club, are Seb Brown, Will Antwi, Peter Sweeney, Jack Midson, Charlie Strutton, Luke Moore, Rhys Weston and Callum Kennedy.

Sammy Moore, Aaron Morris, Darren Jones and Jim Fenlon are all out of contract but have been offered new details, while the futures of Charlie Sheringham and Jake Nicholson will be finalised in the next few weeks.

It was a typical Wimbledon start at Accrington as the Dons found themselves behind after just six minutes. Alan Bennett played a heavy and off-target backpass to Will Antwi that only succeeded in setting free Kayode Odejayi, and he made no mistake when firing beyond Ross Worner from the edge of the box to make it 1-0.

And just quarter of the hour later the Dons were 2-0 down as a routine ball into the box was met by James Gray who made no mistake as his header found the back of the net despite lacking power.

Gray also hit the post but got his second of the game almost immediately after the half-time break, again heading home easily from a corner after getting the better of Barry Fuller in the air, although the Dons man claimed a foul.

Wimbledon got their chance to start turning things around when Tom Aldred sent Danny Hylton tumbling in the box, Midson taking the opportunity to convert the spot kick on what would prove to be his last appearance for the club.

And in the last minute Kwesi Appiah’s was effort was judged to have crossed the line before Accrington keeper Marcus Bettinelli swept it away, the keeper’s protests earning him a place in the referee’s book.

In many ways this was a symbolic end to the season for the Dons, as the rare occasions when things clicked showed the potential of a squad that can only be described as having underperformed.

The challenge will now be on Ardley over the summer to shape a squad that is capable of producing the type of football that he wants to see and earn consistent results.

Meanwhile, youngsters George Oakley and Tom Beere celebrated being handed professional contracts by scoring the goals as the development squad won the London Senior Cup on Tuesday (6 May), beating Met Police 2-1.

Will Nightingale and Chace Jacquart have also been handed professional deals after coming through the academy.

Accrington: Bettinelli, Hunt, Liddle, Joyce, Winnard, Aldred, Hatfield (Naismith 88), Windass, Odejayi, Gray (McCartan 79), Mingoia. Subs not used: Murphy, Webber, Dawber, Atkinson, Bowerman.

Goalscorers: Odejayi 6, Gray 19, 47.

Booked: Odejayi 76, Bettinelli 90.

Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Richards (Arthur 54), S. Moore, Bennett (Jones 45), Antwi, Francomb, Morris, Appiah, Midson, Sweeney (Hylton 54). Subs not used: L. Moore, Pell, Brown, Nicholson.

Goalscorers: Midson 73 (pen), Appiah 89.

Booked: Jones 54.

Att: 1,888.

By Rob Crane

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May 4, 2014