Dons roll the dice and come up trumps

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Ed Langford By Matt Bamsey

NEAL ARD­LEY could af­ford him­self a pat on the back af­ter his sec­ond-half triple sub­sti­tu­tion gam­ble paid div­i­dends late on as Ade Azeez fired home a 91st-minute equaliser.

The goal was a cruel blow to Wy­combe young­ster Ja­son McCarthy as the Southamp­ton loa­nee had ear­lier cel­e­brated his first pro­fes­sional goal af­ter putting his side in front shortly af­ter half time.

But Ard­ley’s switch from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 swung the game to­wards the home side and the for­mer Wim­ble­don player was pleased to earn a point against a com­pet­i­tive Wy­combe out­fit.

“I would rather lose the game 2-0 hav­ing a right good go than los­ing 1-0 wish­ing I’d made the sub­sti­tu­tions ear­lier,” said Ard­ley. “The 4-4-2 wasn’t work­ing against their back four and we thought the pace and power of Azeez and Tom El­liott would cause prob­lems and that’s what hap­pened. I didn’t think ei­ther team did enough to win and it wasn’t the sort of game I’d want to watch ev­ery week.

“It’s what Wy­combe do, and I don’t mean that in a detri­men­tal way, but it’s hard when ev­ery time you touch a player they go down.They play for free kicks and they play ar­eas of the pitch but they’re really good at it.”

A first half of min­i­mal qual­ity saw nei­ther side as­sert them­selves as Lyle Tay­lor blasted Wim­ble­don’s best chance over the bar from the edge of the area af­ter Wy­combe failed to clear Ge­orge Fran­comb’s cor­ner.

For the Chair­boys, Luke O’Nien fired wide from 20 yards be­fore Ben Wil­son saved com­fort­ably from Sam Wood’s free-kick.

But Wy­combe found them­selves in front shortly af­ter the break as McCarthy bun­dled in from close-range af­ter Michael Har­ri­man’s free­kick caused a scram­ble in the Dons box.Then the triple sub­sti­tu­tion on the hour mark came and Azeez fired home from 12 yards af­ter In­gram’s punched clear­ance only made it as far as the Wim­ble­don striker.

De­spite claims of a foul on In­gram, Wy­combe boss Gareth Ainsworth wasn’t too down­hearted and paid trib­ute to young­ster McCarthy. “A point away at Wim­ble­don is a good re­sult and they’ve been in great form,” he said.

“We were so close at the end and they’ve had one shot on tar­get and it’s gone in.

“Matty says he’s been fouled and I think he has. We’ll have a look on the video and I can write my re­port but it isn’t go­ing to get me the two points that I lost.

“When you get a player on loan from the Premier League come and score then cel­e­brate like that in front of the fans I think that sends a big mes­sage out what it means to play for Wy­combe now.” EX­ETER di­rec­tor of foot­ball Steve Per­ry­man be­lieves man­ager Paul Tis­dale de­serves the credit af­ter the Gre­cians stunned their ri­vals with a sec­ond win in 11 meet­ings at Home Park.

Ryan Har­ley stole the lime­light with a slick first-half dou­ble be­fore Os­car Threlkeld gave ta­ble-top­ping Plymouth brief hope af­ter the break.

The de­feat saw Plymouth’s lead at the top cut to two points fol­low­ing Ox­ford’s late win at Da­gen­ham.

But Ex­eter are now three points out­side the play-off places thanks to their first away win since late Septem­ber.

Per­ry­man heaped praise on Tis­dale for mas­ter­mind­ing Plymouth’s sec­ond home de­feat.

He said: “It was al­ways go­ing to be hard to beat the team top of the league. A lot of thought went into this game and that is why I am speak­ing to you – the man­ager has worn his brain out.

“They were rid­ing high and full of con­fi­dence and we needed to be a bit spe­cial to­day. Ryan showed ter­rific qual­ity with the two goals and we de­fended valiantly.

“It was a well-ex­e­cuted plan by the man­ager and he de­serves the praise to­day.

“It doesn’t mean we are go­ing to be pro­moted or get into the play­offs. It is im­por­tant not to get car­ried away, but it will give us a real lift mov­ing for­wards.”

PIC­TURES: Tony Car­ney

FLY­ING RYAN: Ex­eter’s Ryan Har­ley scores his sec­ond goal

STAR MAN LUKE O’NIEN Wy­combe

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