CON ARTIST IS A DONS HERO

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Mike Sim­monds

AFC Wim­ble­don striker David Con­nolly scored his first goal since re­turn­ing to the club to se­cure a thrilling in­jury-time victory over pro­mo­tion-chas­ing Lu­ton Town – to the de­light of boss Neal Ard­ley.

The 37-year-old rounded keeper El­liot Justham be­fore fir­ing into the empty net with the fi­nal kick as the Dons se­cured a dra­matic three points.

And af­ter sign­ing Con­nolly fol­low­ing his con­tract ter­mi­na­tion at Portsmouth in Jan­uary, Ard­ley said:“I’m de­lighted for him as he’s had a tough year of his foot­balling life, for him to be able to do that in the last minute, hope­fully he’ll en­joy it.

“We thought ‘let’s be brave and go 4-3-3’, play three cen­tre for­wards and that’s what Dave does, he plays on shoul­ders and reads those types of mo­ments.

“It was a game of two halves, I thought first half we were bril­liant, I re­ally did.

“But sec­ond half to be fair to John Still he’s got them up and at it. They’ve changed their shape a lit­tle bit and caused us all sorts of prob­lems.

“It was a car crash of a sec­ond goal we gave them though be­cause mo­men­tum had swung, but we made some sub­sti­tu­tions and brought it back.”

It had looked like Lu­ton would earn a point af­ter com­ing back from 2-0 down at Kingsmeadow.

The hosts went close early on Al­fie Pot­ter’s ef­fort was saved by Justham, mak­ing his league de­but for Lu­ton af­ter Mark Tyler was ruled out by in­jury.

Striker Ade­bayo Ak­in­fenwa should have put Dons ahead on 13 min­utes, when com­pletely un­marked he fired against the post, with the wood­work also deny­ing Sean Rigg mid­way through the half.

The hosts had the lead on 27 min­utes when Ak­in­fenwa’s side­footer was par­ried by Justham, with the re­bound tucked away by Al­fie Pot­ter.

AFC then made it 2-0 as Dan­nie Bul­man thun­dered into the top cor­ner on 42 min­utes, but the Hat- ters were back in it on the stroke of half-time, Jay­den Stockley turn­ing in when Luke Gut­tridge’s ef­fort de­flected against the post.

Af­ter the break, Stockley was de­nied a clear penalty af­ter be­ing fouled by Dave Winfield, with ref­eree Fred­er­ick Gra­ham some­how deem­ing it a dive.

How­ever, Lu­ton did level on 67 min­utes when Gut­tridge slid West Ham loan striker El­liot Lee away to side-foot home on his de­but.

But in a fran­tic fi­nale, with both sides miss­ing chances, and af­ter Justham saved su­perbly from sub Ade­bayo Azeez, Con­nolly showed all his years of ex­pe­ri­ence to keep a cool head and win it.

Lu­ton boss John Still was crit­i­cal of his side’s de­fend­ing though, as he said:“First half I didn’t think our back peo­ple coped at all, which was dis­ap­point­ing as they played to­gether at Mans­field.

“Sec­ond half, they coped fan­tas­tic, ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic, but made a mis­take at the end, one punt down the mid­dle, and that’s not good enough.

“I don’t want to do th­ese play­ers a dis­ser­vice, but it’s about be­ing the best and for some of the boys who have come in, it was their op­por­tu­nity to stay in the team.”

PIC­TURES: Gareth Owen

STAR MAN ADEBA

YO AKINFE

NWA AFC Wimbl

edon BUL­LET: Dan­nie Bul­man scores AFC Wim­ble­don’s sec­ond goal

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