AFC Wimbledon 2 v Bury 2
AFC Wimbledon let slip a two-goal half-time advantage as they drew 2-2 against Bury to wrap up their season on Saturday 5 May. The result means that the Dons finish 18th in the League One table, ahead of relegated Oldham Athletic by three points, to secure their status for another season.
‘Today was a celebration,’ boss Neal Ardley told assembled fans afterwards as they basked in the evening sunshine and raised a glass to the Dons’ success at avoiding the drop. ‘You can pick the bones out of the season further down the line, but we battled to get where we were and we were safe before the game and we could enjoy the occasion.
‘We cannot disregard the League One safety element – I don’t think we’re in that position yet as a club to think that we should be anything other than trying to secure our status. Hopefully we can try to progress slowly but surely. It’s hard with recruitment and with the quality of players you want to bring in, but we are pushing in the right direction.’
With player of the season Deji Oshilaja rested, Dons fans were given the chance to salute veteran defender Paul Robinson. With George Long’s loan spell expiring and doubts about the future of a number of key players such as Darius Charles and Lyle Taylor, a successful summer of transfer activity looks vitally important if the Dons are to avoid the drop again next season.
The Dons took an early lead in this encounter when Dean Parrett – who played an important role in the Dons’ late unbeaten run that ensured survival but is rumoured to be amongst those who will be released – drove home a spectacular fashion. Barry Fuller’s long throw into the box was knocked clear by a defender but fell to Parrett who twisted to half-volley home the bouncing ball with a venomous laser-accurate shot.
They had already gone close when Taylor and Kwesi Appiah combined to win possession deep in the Bury half before Taylor’s shot was saved, while Appiah also went close when he screwed his shot narrowly off target following Egli Kaja’s long pass.
Taylor was forced off shortly after the half hour when he twisted his ankle, but soon afterwards the Dons were 2-0 ahead. Two Bury defenders made a hash of dealing with Long’s clearance and Appiah seized on a weak attempted chested back pass to convert from the edge of the goal area.
The visitors came into the match more in the second period as they attempted to salvage some pride following their relegation. They got the equaliser their improved play warranted when Long came off his line to punch clear Jay O’Shea’s hopeful ball into the box and found himself stranded as Neil Danns lofted it over his head and into the top right corner of the goal.
Andy Barcham struck the junction of post and bar with a well-placed effort but it was the visitors who finished off the scoring with five minutes remaining when O’Shea’s cross following a corner was headed home by George Miller.
The Dons are set to announce their released list this coming week after which it will no doubt be a summer of rebuilding. Next season’s fixtures – potentially Wimbledon’s last full season away from Plough Lane – are released on 21 June with the season starting on 4 August.
Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Robinson, Charles, Kennedy, Abdou, Soares, Parrett, Kaja (Sam 73), Appiah (Barcham 60), Taylor (Pigott 32). Subs not used: Meades, Oshilaja, McDonnell, Egan.
Goalscorers: Parrett 12, Appiah 34.
Booked: Parrett 77.
Bury: Murphy, Thompson, Shotton, Cooney (Nyaupembe 65), Leigh, Danns (Adams 90), Styles, Ismail, O’Shea, Dai (Tutte 46), Miller. Subs not used: O’Connell, Sang, Maloney, Hulme.
Goalscorers: Danns 66, Miller 85.
By Rob Crane
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May 8, 2018