BY JOSHUA MINCHIN
AFC Wimbledon salvaged a point against visitors Lincoln City despite a poor performance at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, with Kwesi Appiah the saviour for the hosts deep into stoppage time.
The Dons climb out of the bottom three at the expense of Milton Keynes and avoided back-to-back defeats after their loss to Burton Albion last time out.
After a frantic start, it was the visitors who settled quickest. Smart play from Harry Toffolo down the left flank forced Dons keeper Nathan Trott into an early save, while Jack Payne continued to look lively on the right. The home side struggled to keep possession and failed to find their rhythm in the final third, despite the ever-industrious Joe Pigott winning everything thrown at him in the air.
It was Pigott who played a key role in the Dons’ first real chance too. Smart link-up play between him and Marcus Forss created plenty of space for Scott Wagstaff, up from right wing-back, who whipped in a delicious ball – Paul Osew failed to meet it at the back post.
Lincoln really should have taken the lead a few minutes later. Michael O’Connor was allowed far too much room in the middle and slipped a perfectly-weighted through ball to Payne, but top-scorer Tyler Walker was unable to convert from the cross as Trott again saved well. The Dons stopper kept them in the game again a few seconds later with another brilliant save down to his left to parry a well-hit shot from Payne wide of the posts.
Just as the home side began to build pressure of their own, Lincoln made the breakthrough with a killer counter-attack. Walker held up well before laying off to Bruno Andrade, whose cross was flicked by Payne past Trott. An alarmingly simple goal for the Imps in truth.
With half-time looming, Mitch Pinnock almost gave his side an unlikely equaliser – his long-range effort was saved by Josh Vickers despite the ball moving an awful lot in the swirling conditions. Dons boss Glyn Hodges had work to do at the break – his side perhaps fortunate to only be one down.
The Dons started the second half well. Forss unleashed a ferocious effort on 50-minute mark that was tipped over by Vickers. Pigott’s header was somehow saved from the resulting corner when it looked destined for the top corner. Corner after corner followed for the home side, but still there was no way through. Lincoln remained menacing on the counter too, Andrade’s pace a real concern for the back three.
The Dons huffed and puffed for the rest of the half, but poor decisions in key moments meant they created little – the final ball nowhere near good enough from the home side. Lincoln were content to see out the game and were not troubled hugely, despite the introduction of another striker in the form of Appiah.
Lincoln looked to be heading home with all three points, but as we learned last time out at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, there’s always time for drama when the Dons are involved. Luke O’Neill put in the first delivery of genuine quality for a long time, and Appiah found himself unmarked six yards out to glance past Vickers.
Smash and grab it might have been, but these are the points that keep you up and Hodges will be relieved that his side could get themselves out of trouble after a lacklustre performance.
PICTURES BY PAUL EDWARDS