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

AFC WIM­BLE­DON boss Neal Ard­ley re­fused to crit­i­cise ref­eree Bren­dan Malone af­ter his side had to play with ten men for al­most an hour in de­feat to Lu­ton Town.

Vis­it­ing cen­tre-half Kar­leigh Os­borne was dis­missed for two book­ings in­side five min­utes on 35 min­utes, with the sec­ond cau­tion branded ‘soft’ by Ard­ley.

And Lu­ton even­tu­ally took full ad­van­tage late on through sub­sti­tute Jack Mar­riott’s clin­i­cal dou­ble.

Ard­ley said:“I thought the first one was a book­ing. The sec­ond one, the only ar­gu­ment I might have is if we just send peo­ple off for two fouls, the first two fouls they make in the game, we’ll prob­a­bly have eight men left on the pitch.

“Maybe a warn­ing might have been in place as it looked soft and if you know some­one’s had a book­ing, you some­times see ref­er­ees use com­mon sense. But he’s done it and I’m not go­ing to crit­i­cise.”

Hat­ters boss John Still agreed, adding:“The send­ing off, it is a send­ing off, if it was my player, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have any com­plaints about it, but the send­ings off now are soft.

“The let­ter of the law says he’s got to go, but we came in at half time and I said they’re go­ing to de­fend even deeper, and nar­row, so we’ve got to try and use our width, don’t kick it down the mid­dle, try and pass.

“We were def­i­nitely go­ing to get Jack on, as we think Jack’s got a goal in him and he’s got one goalscorer’s goal and also one that was a very, very com­posed fin­ish.”

When it was 11 v 11, the visi­tors looked the more likely to score as Ge­orge Fran­comb shot straight at Mark Tyler and Ade­bayo Ak­in­fenwa’s header looped over the top.

Jake Reeves then took aim from range, forc­ing Tyler to claw away from un­der­neath his own bar, while the Lu­ton stop­per also made an ex­cel­lent stop from Andy Bar­cham’s shot that threat­ened to sneak in.

Craig Mack­ail-Smith shanked well wide from a rare open­ing, be­fore Os­borne picked up two book­ings in the 29th and 35th minute to see red as Dons went down to ten.

Paddy McCourt shot over the top, while in the sec­ond pe­riod Lu­ton still strug­gled to break down a dis­ci­plined vis­it­ing de­fence.

Tyler was called upon to make a full-length stop from sub­sti­tute Sean Rigg, while the Hat­ters’ best chance saw de­fender Scott Grif­fiths’ low drive touched be­hind by James Shea.

How­ever, with 78 min­utes gone, the Dons re­sis­tance was fi­nally bro­ken as Alex Law­less fired into a crowded area and Mar­riott was on hand to stab over the line.

Wim­ble­don al­most drew level as Ak­in­fenwa’s header drew a fine tipover from Tyler, but Lu­ton then sealed the points in stop­page time. McCourt broke clear once more and fed Cameron McGee­han, but af­ter he fluffed his lines, Mar­riott slammed home the loose ball with real aplomb to seal the vic­tory.

PIC­TURES: Pro Sport

JACK THE LAD: Jack Mar­riott cel­e­brates break­ing AFC Wim­ble­don’s re­sistence

WHO ME?: Wim­ble­don’s Kar­leigh Os­borne sees red


ON AFC Wimbl


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