‘Ard work pays off as Dons pip Tubbs
NEAL Ardley admitted he finally had reason to cheer as his AFC Wimbledon squeezed home against Portsmouth at the Kingsmeadow Stadium.
The only goal of the game came in the sixth minute, when Craig Tanner’s cross was sliced into his own net by Pompey defender Ben Chorley.
It sealed the Dons’ double over Pompey, which allowed them to leapfrog their rivals in the table and cross the vital 50-point mark – all of which left Ardley grinning from ear to ear.
“It’s been a tough three weeks,” said Ardley.“But I fancied us to win, despite all that. It’s typical Wimbledon style, when the going gets tough, we respond.
“We played really well at Mansfield, deserved three points and came out with none. Then there was the soft penalty at Exeter.
“Before that we lost James Shea, George Framcombe and Callum Kennedy to injuries, David Connelly to retirement, Dave Wingfield was recalled. So to end all that with three points was perfect.
“I’m delighted for Tanner as well. People have talked about the fact that he hasn’t scored and that maybe he’s not a League Two player, but here he showed he has qualities much higher than League Two.”
The game burst into life as Alfie Potter slipped a perfect ball through a crowded box, finding Tanner, whose cross found the back of the net via Chorley.
But despite the early lead, Wimbledon were pinned back for large periods in the first half, even if Pompey created little.
They came closest through Matt Tubbs, who was denied a dream return to Kingsmeadow by the out-stretched palm of Ross Worner.
In the second half, Andy Awford threw caution to the wind, introducing two extra strikers and taking his team to a 4-2-4.
The move had little influence, as they created little, with Worner being called into action only once, saving from Ryan Taylor at his near post.
Wimbledon, however, grew into the game and Adebayo Akinfenwa was denied only by the bar, while Paul Jones pulled off a string of fine saves, denying Paul Smith and Tanner twice from long-range.
“I’m not sure we deserved to lose, but I’m not sure we deserved to win either,” said Awford.
“Jones didn’t have much to do and, in all fairness, neither did their keeper. But with the amount of possession we’ve had, we’re disappointed with how little we’ve created. The most disappointing thing is that we spoke before the game about being solid and hard to beat.”
STAR MAN CRAIG TANNE
R AFC Wimbl