Wally Downes: No Christmas party for AFC Wimbledon players

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Wally Downes felt his AFC Wimbledon side did not deserve to be on the end of a 2-0 defeat to Charlton.

But the Dons boss also said that the players’ Christmas party would not go ahead due to their perilous position at the bottom of the League One table.

The Addicks had Naby Sarr sent off inside the opening minute but lost Mitch Pinnock to two bookable offences before half time – the second deemed to be simulation.

Former Dons striker Lyle Taylor and Mark Marshall scored in the second half.

But Downes, who suffered his first defeat since becoming manager, said: “I thought we were unfortunate for it to be 2-0 because at 1-0 we were back in the game.

“I thought we were pressing on. The substitutes we made had made a difference in the second half. We were unfortunate not to get an equaliser and it stung a little bit to get done right at the end because we’d worked so hard and came closer.”

Asked about Sarr’s early dismissal – the quickest in Charlton’s history – Downes responded to a question about it not being easy to play against 10 men by responding: “It’s easier than playing against 11, I can assure you.

“They had the ball but we were always comfortable in the first half. They didn’t really cause any problems, we know how they were going to play and set out our stall accordingly.

“I was comfortable at half time. I said they had a game in midweek and we were going to be stronger in the game if Mitch Pinnock doesn’t get sent off.

“It was a foul [Pinnock was sent off for]. The referee has made a mistake. The official thought he had dived. I couldn’t tell from where I was but Mitch said at half time it was a foul and he was in on goal. The complexion of the game completely changed.

“There is a bit of a virus going around at the moment. We could get a little bit out of [James] Hanson [as a second half sub] but nothing out of Rod [McDonald, who missed the match]. It gives squad players an opportunity to do well.”

Wimbledon went bottom of the table. Downes said: “I didn’t know that but there is a long way to go.

“We’ll approach [the Wycombe game next weekend] in the same way, looking to win and take all three points.”

Asked about a festive party for the players, Downes said: “I incentivised the players – if they can get two positive results then they can go.

“It had been arranged before I came but I don’t think this is really a position for us to be going on a Christmas party. The lads know that and agree to it.”