ARDLEY’S ON THE ATTACK
Dons boss fuming over referee’s reaction to stoppage-time query
NEAL Ardley is not about to let sleeping dogs lie after labelling referee Darren Handley a liar in the wake of AFC Wimbledon’s draw at ten-man Leyton Orient.
The home side went head through top scorer Jay Simpson in the first half before a red card for John Marquis reduced them to ten men, allowing Wimbledon to equalise through striker Adebayo Akinfenwa.
However, the officials drew complaints from both managers after with Wimbledon boss Ardley taking issue with the number of stoppages during the time added on.
“I was told five minutes, a minimum of five,” said Ardley. “They then add a minute and a half for that substitution.
“It was a further minute for the goalkeeper, so straight away, you’re two and a half minutes on top of the five. I’ve got my watch on 50 minutes and 30 seconds and for me that’s unacceptable.
“I told him after and he lightened it at the end and said he’s got 51 and a half on his watch. He’s lied to me. I will be putting in a report.
“I didn’t see the first yellow, but I think the second probably was.
“When two players go in and one player gets the ball, it’s a foul. We deserved a win, there isn’t any doubt. If we had come away with anything other than a draw then it would have been a total farce.”
After going close with a header early on, Simpson, who passed a late fitness test to start, opened the scoring with his 15th goal of the season on ten minutes.
The league’s top scorer collected a Marquis pass between two defenders and slotted home with his right foot – but it was Wimbledon who finished the half the stronger with a series of corners and halfchances.
The best of these came just after the half hour, but neither Akinfenwa nor Lyle Taylor could take advantage of a scramble around the penalty spot.
Sean Rigg, after twisting and turning in the area, had a shot blocked as Wimbledon failed to find an equalising goal before half-time.
Straight after the restart, George Francomb put a free-kick narrowly over from 20 yards as the Dons looked to build on their positive end to the first 45 minutes.
Francomb then played in Jon Meades on the left whose whipped cross was headed just over by Akinfenwa.
To counter the Don’s newfound attacking prowess, O’s manager Ian Hendon brought on captain and centre-back Mathieu Baudry, who had failed a late fitness test on a hip injury. Moments later, this change looked unwise when Marquis was sent off for a second bookable offence after colliding late with Paul Robinson. And so ensued 30 minutes of the Dons probing, with Jake Reeves having a shot from 25 yards go just over on 76 minutes.
Orient keeper Alex Cisak made a memorable save from a Meades header at point-blank range before the equaliser came.
Akinfenwa popped up at the back post to nod in an Adebayo Azeez cross as the pressure finally told.
Orient boss Hendon felt his side battled admirably when down to ten men, but was disappointed that the situation arose.
“The sending off came just after a substitution,” he said. “I’ve got to trust my players when they’re on yellow cards. I spoke to John [Marquis] and said he shouldn’t be making those challenges. He’s got to stay on his feet and not get involved and giving the referee any chance of booking him again.”
As for the officiating, Hendon remained tight-lipped.
He added: “Everyone in the ground watched the game today. I’m not going to get myself in trouble, so I better leave it there.
“It was a great finish from Jay. That’s what he does.We didn’t have many other chances. Credit to Wimbledon. They’ve worked hard and we were camped in.
“We were 1-0. We knew it was going to be an aerial bombardment. We were going to put another up front, but then the sending off. I’ve got to give credit to the players. They were under huge amounts of pressure and defended very well.”
BEAST: Wimbledon’s Adebayo Akinfenwa celebrates netting the leveller with his teammates
HIGHS AND LOWS: Referee Darren Handley sends off John Marquis and, right, Jobi McAnuff congratulates Jay Simpson on his goal STAR MAN JACK PAYNE Leyton