STAGS DIG IN AND CLIMB INTO TOP HALF OF TABLE
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Mansfield Town 1 - 0 AFC Wimbledon
Attendance: 3292 (318 from Wimbledon)
Date: 29 March 2014
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Mansfield Town dug in for another crucial win on Saturday afternoon, the first ever victory against the reformed AFC Wimbledon after the travesty that became Milton Keynes Dons. It was a far from pretty game, with neither side demonstrating much quality and very few chances for either side. So poor a game was it that it was fitting that it was won by a bit of a fluke, as Adam Murray’s free-kick to the far post went straight in. But you only get a bit of luck with that sort of free-kick if you get it on target in the first place and then anything can happen, as James Jennings showed at Hartlepool. It was Murray’s first goal of the season and he couldn’t have picked a better time to do it. This was a battling performance from the Stags, with Jamie McGuire putting in his best performance in a Mansfield shirt in my opinion, and sponsor’s man of the match Adam Murray also putting in a fine display. The Stags defended well after some kamikaze messing around at the back in the first half nearly gifted AFC Wimbledon some chances, with Ricthie Sutton my pick of the defenders. And a mention for the crowd, who were the 12th man cheering the team over the line despite a less than exciting game. This was important through to the final whistle as remarkably AFC Wimbledon had scored goals in the 96th, 97th and 98th minutes in their previous 3 games to earn points.
So after a fabulous week, taking seven points from 3 games (and it could so easily have been nine points), and recording back-to-back wins for the first time since September, Mansfield are in to the top half of table for the first time since early November. Another 2 or 3 points are needed from the final 6 games to be sure of safety in my estimation.
Man of the match: Jamie McGuire
Saturday, 29th March 2014: Mansfield Town 1, AFC Wimbledon 0
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
They made hard work of it, but Mansfield Town finally achieved back to back wins for the first time since September with a narrow 1-0 home success against AFC Wimbledon this afternoon.
The win was achieved by an Adam Murray free kick was early as the seventh minute and earned the Stags three more precious survival points.
For long spells of the game Stags were in total control, often causing their own problems with sloppy or nervous play against a largely poor Dons side.
The visitors had a couple of great chances either side of the break to level and did have a good spell near the end during which Jamie McGuire was called upon to make a goal line clearance.
But the Stags survived and held on to what they had got.
Mansfield made two changes at the back. James Jennings missed the game with suspension and was replaced by Junior Daniel while John Dempster was rested to the bench to allow the return of Ryan Tafazolli from a foot injury.
McGuire was well off target with a hopeful snapshot from 35 yards in the opening minutes.
Howell’s burst into the box from the right then earned Stags a fifth minute corner which saw the ball come of Tafazolli’s head well wide of goal.
But, with the Dons briefly down to 10 men while Francomb received attention to his head after a clash with McGuire, Stags went ahead on seven minutes from a free kick 30 yards out
Murray swung the ball towards goal and Palmer’s failed attempt at a flicked header in front of keeper Worner proved enough to put the keeper off and the ball flew straight into the far corner.
The visitors suffered a second head injury as Jones took the full force of Howell’s high boot on 11 minutes.
The Dons players protested about the challenge and after an eternity the referee decided to show Howell a yellow card.
Jones remained down and eventually a stretcher was brought on.
Jones departed and Appiah joined the action as a 15th minute substitute.
It had been all Mansfield so far, but the visitors did create a few moments of danger as Stags caused their own problems with some loose passes, though Marriott still remained untested.
Murray over-hit Stags’ second corner as it rolled out for a throw-in on the far touchline.
Riley almost gifted the Dons a goal when he dallied on the ball under pressure from Appiah and then rolled a short backpass towards goal, Marriott racing out quickly to clear before Appiah could pounce.
Rhead committed a foul and then delayed the Dons free kick which saw the referee unnecessarily call over Rhead and skipper Murray for a lecture when a quick word in Rhead’s ear as he ran past him would have sufficed.
The visitors finally fashioned a realistic chance on 42 minutes.
Francomb crossed from the right and Appiah met it on the half-volley. Thankfully his finish lacked real bite and was straight at Marriott when, had he caught it properly, the keeper may have had little chance.
Rhead sent a speculative long range effort before Palmer won Stags a third corner.
Taken by Murray, it curled back in towards goal and Worner decided to tip it over for another corner, from which Beevers powered a header wide of the near post.
The early injuries saw five minutes added at the end od the half in which an outstretched leg by Tafazolli was needed to hook a dangerous low Francombe free kick away from danger.
Then Murray slotted a pass down the centre from which Rhead turned and fired straight at Worner from 18 yards.
Great battling from McGuire against two opponents by the left corner flag saw him get away from both of them to be brought down by Wyke, who earned himself a booking.
The half ended with Murray firing in the free kick from the left straight at Worner.
The Dons should have been level four minutes into the second half, though.
A slip by Sutton allowed Appiah to get free on the left and his inch-perfect cross set up a volleying chance at the far post for Francomb. But, from seven yards with Marriott at his mercy, he sliced it over.
Soon after Francomb was wide of the far post with a hopeful blast from a tight angle.
On 54 minutes Stags went to a 4-4-2 formation with the pace of Clucas and Meikle introduced in place of Howell and Daniel.
A minute later Morris tried his luck from distance and wasn’t too far over the angle.
Then Palmer was wide with a low shot from just inside the box, though had he shot first time he may have had a better chance of beating Worner.
On 64 minutes Speight was thrown on up front for the home side in place of Palmer.
Speight was soon in the action, Worner having to race out his box to kick clear as the sub chased down a poor backpass.
A Rhead through ball sent Speight on the run again, this time sending a tame shot at the keeper.
On 72 minutes Rhead was booked for persistent fouling after going up with Antwi, though it looked a harsh decision by a referee who had won few fans with a string of strange decisions all afternoon.
Another dreadful decision came soon after as Beevers clearly won a tackle on the advancing Saint-Luce just outside the box. Thankfully Francomb’s kick was straight at a team mate in the home wall.
The Dons were still not giving up the fight and Stags had three corners to defend in a short space of time.
On 79 minutes they came as close as they had all day from the last of those corners as McGuire cleared Bennett’s header off the line with Marriott beaten and Morris slotted a low folow-up just wide.
Marriott then had to save an Appiah snapshot as a nervous finish loomed.
On 87 minutes Murray and Morris clashed angrily in the middle of the park and squared up, the referee booking both of them.
Towards the end Meikle was too high from outside the box, Clucas headed a chance straight at Worner and Rhead fired tamely at the keeper too as Mansfield just couldn’t find a killer second which wasn’t needed in the end.
There were more confrontations at the end and the referee flashed a yellow card towards a group of Dons players. But it mattered not.
STAGS: Marriott; Beevers, Sutton, Tafazolli, Riley, Daniel (Meikle 54); Murray, Howell (Clucas 54), McGuire; Rhead, Palmer (Speight 64). Subs not used: Dempster, Stevenson, Clements, Westlake.
AFC WIMBLEDON: Worner, Fuller, Bennett, Francomb, Moore, Antwi, Wyke (Saint-Luce 62), Morris, Jones (Appiah 15), Collins, Richards (Arthur 52). Subs not used: Sweeney, Moore, Pell, Saint-Luce, Brown.?REFEREE: Rob Lewis of Shropshire.
ATTENDANCE: 3,292 (318 away)
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Adam Murray.
Slow start costs AFC Wimbledon at Mansfield
By Matt Lewis
Mansfield Town 1-0 AFC Wimbledon
Another slow start saw AFC Wimbledon’s four-match unbeaten run come to an end at Mansfield Town.
The Dons have so often conceded the first goal this season and that trend continued today as the Stags opened the scoring inside 10 minutes and held on for the spoils.
Jack Midson missed the trip to Nottinghamshire through suspension after being sent off in the midweek stalemate at Northampton Town and was replaced by Will Antwi.
Kwesi Appiah, who arrived at Kingsmeadow on Thursday on a loan deal from Premier League outfit Crystal Palace, had to settle for a place on the bench at the One Call Stadium.
The XI men who did get the nod made a disastrous start.
Mansfield took the lead just seven minutes after kick-off, Adam Murray drilling a free-kick beyond the reach of Ross Worner before the Dons had chance to settle.
Things went from bad to worse.
Appiah made his debut quicker than expected from the bench as Darren Jones was caught by a high boot with 15 minutes on the clock and his afternoon was over.
On came Appiah, throwing Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley’s pre-match plans further into chaos, as the Dons looked to finally get going.
The substitute looked hungry and came as close as anyone to finding an equaliser soon after entering the fray, robbing Martin Riley of possession but failing to beat Town keeper Alan Marriott.
It remained at 1-0 at the interval but Dons came out fighting after the restart,
Appiah was again involved in the attack as he set-up George Francomb for a crack before Aaron Morris blazed wide from distance.
Ardley urged his side forward as the game drew to a close, Bennett seeing an effort cleared off the line and Francomb forcing a good save from Marriott.
But Mansfield held on for the points and Sam Clucas and Matt Rhead really could’ve sealed it late on with two great chances, kept out by Worner.
AFC WIMBLEDON: Worner, Fuller, Antwi, Jones (Appiah, 15), Bennett, Richards (Arthur, 52), Francomb, Collins, S Moore, Morris, Wyke (Sainte-Luce, 62).
Subs (not used): Brown, Sweeney, L Moore, Pell.
Dons slip to narrow defeat
Sat 29 Mar 2014
Author: Chris Slavin
Read more at http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/news/article/dons-and-mansfield-rep-1453698.aspx?#VJVZiqV1ysHiMOCa.99
Early goal ends Wimbledon run
Wimbledon this time paid the price for a slow start as their four-match unbeaten run came to an end against a Mansfield side that proved too strong on the day.
A fortuitous seventh minute goal from Adam Murray decided the outcome and this time there was no late rally for the 318 travelling Dons fans to cheer as Wimbledon succumbed to a 1-0 defeat.
It was a match of few chances and on the balance of play Wimbledon perhaps deserved better. Alan Bennett (pictured) came closest to a late equaliser with a header, but his effort was cleared off the line. The only consolation for the visitors in defeat was that Northampton’s loss meant that the Dons still have a healthy points advantage over the bottom sides.
Wimbledon made two changes from the side that started at Northampton with both of those enforced as Andy Frampton missed out due to a leg injury and Jack Midson was suspended. However, Neal Ardley resisted the temptation to pitch new signing Kwesi Appiah straight in and he decided to field another defender with Darren Jones and Will Antwi both recalled.
Both sides came into this game in decent form with Mansfield unbeaten in three and the Dons having not lost in four matches. Mansfield had earned a reputation for a direct approach in their first season back in the Football League and that meant Wimbledon started with centre-backs Antwi, Alan Bennett and Jones deployed as part of a 5-4-1 system. But that never stopped Mansfield making a breakthrough from a set-piece in just the seventh minute. Mansfield captain Adam Murray delivered a free-kick that evaded everyone and the ball nestled in the back of the net after Ross Worner was deceived by the bounce.
Wimbledon were forced into an early change in the 15th minute with Darren Jones unable to continue after he took a nasty kick to his head from Anthony Howell, who was subsequently booked for that challenge. With the Dons having fallen behind so early, Neal Ardley decided to revert to a 4-4-2 formation with Appiah sent on for his debut.
A spirited response to going behind followed as Wimbledon started to dictate matters in midfield and Wyke again impressed with his hold-up play. It was Wyke that had the first sniff of a chance for the visitors when he got on the end of a Tom Richards cross, but his header was just wide. And Mansfield almost pressed the self-destruct button when Martin Riley’s back pass was well short, but home goalkeeper Alan Marriott just got there before Appiah.
Wimbledon fashioned their best chance so far in the 42nd minute and it was a great opportunity for Appiah to score his first goal for the Dons. Appiah started it himself by finding George Francomb down, but the on-loan Crystal Palace striker shot too close to Marriott after getting on the end of the cross.
There had certainly been plenty of encouragement for Wimbledon to take from their response after the goal as they had the majority of possession, albeit without finding a cutting edge to match.
Appiah showed plenty of promise on his debut and more good work from the striker set-up an opportunity that could have resulted in the equaliser. Appiah dispossessed Ritchie Sutton and sent over a cross that picked out Francomb, but he sliced his finish high and wide. With 52 minutes on the clock, Neal Ardley made another attacking change with Chris Arthur replacing Richards at left-back. However, with Wimbledon having made little impression as an attacking force by the hour mark, it was time to send for Kevin Sainte-Luce and he replaced Wyke up front. With the pairing of Sainte-Luce and Appiah offering plenty of pace up front, the ball over the top was certainly now an option for Wimbledon.
Wimbledon came so close to an equaliser 12 minutes from time when Bennett rose highest in the box to meet Francomb’s dangerous corner, but his powerful header was cleared off the line by Jamie McGuire. The Dons were showing signs of producing a late onslaught that had become their trademark recently and Appiah forced Marriott into a decent save. However, that was it as far as any Dons threat was concerned and they will be hoping to pick themselves up at home to Bristol Rovers next Saturday.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner, Barry Fuller, Alan Bennett, George Francomb, Sammy Moore, Will Antwi, Charlie Wyke (Kevin Sainte-Luce), Aaron Morris, Darren Jones (Kwesi Appiah), Michael Collins, Tom Richards (Chris Arthur).
Latest | March 2014