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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
13:37 20th June 2014

The Hatters fell to an injury time defeat at AFC Wimbledon having earlier fought back from two goals down in a dramatic five-goal thriller at Kingsmeadow.

The Dons deservedly led thanks to goals from Alfie Potter and Dannie Bulman, and could have been further ahead after Elliot Justham and the post denied the home side.

But Jayden Stockley pulled one back for the Hatters shortly before half-time to reduce the deficit - and after the break the Town lay siege on the Dons’ goal.

Stockley was denied what looked a good penalty shout but debutant Elliot Lee, on-loan from West Ham, scored within four minutes of his introduction as a substitute with his first touch to bring the Town level.

But despite looking the more likely side to snatch the points, the hosts had other ideas and Hatters hearts were broken in the final minute of stoppage time when substitute David Connolly stole in to give Wimbledon all the points.

The Town began showing four changes to the side that lost at Mansfield on Tuesday with Justham given his first league start in Luton colours with Mark Tyler ruled out with a knee injury. Cameron McGeehan and Luke Guttridge started in midfield, whilst new loan signing Elliot Lee started on the bench.

The Dons, 13th in the table before the start of the play, began the better and came close to scoring twice inside the first 60 seconds. Justham needed to be alert after just 24 seconds when he kept out Potter’s curling shot before Jake Reeves shot wide moments later.

The Hatters responded well and McGeehan came close on seven minutes when his header from Andy Drury’s left-wing corner was cleared.

But the Dons were looking the more dangerous going forward and Justham made another good save to deny the home side on 12 minutes when a cross from the right was met by Bulman’s instinctive hooked effort.

The pressure from the Wombles continued and the Town were lucky not to be behind a minute later when Adebayo Akinfewna, unmarked in the penalty area, shot straight against the post having been found following a low right-wing cross. Thankfully, the striker could not adjust in time to follow up with the goal gaping.

However, the Town were not so lucky on 27 minutes when the Dons took the lead with Akinfenwa at the heart of it. The striker beat Alex Lacey in the air before being played through on goal by Craig Tanner. Justham did well to stand tall and parry Akinfewna’s shot but the loose ball dropped invitingly at the feet of Potter and he tapped home into an empty net.

The Hatters responded well to going behind with Guttridge pulling the strings, and the midfielder won a free-kick on the edge of the box that Andy Drury fired goalwards only for his powerful drive to be blocked bravely by the Wimbledon wall.

But the Town’s decent spell came to an abrupt end four minutes before half-time when the home side doubled their lead. The Hatters half-cleared a left-wing corner which fell at the feet to Bulman and he lashed home a well-hit effort from the edge of the area beyond Justham and into the roof of the net.

Two goals behind approaching the break, the Hatters were handed a life-line a minute before the interval. The Town worked the ball from the right, Guttridge’s shot was deflected onto the post and Stockley was the beneficiary to the rebound, side-footing home his second goal of the season.

With the deficit halved, the Hatters began the second period on the front foot. After Scott Griffiths headed over a left-wing corner on 47 minutes, Stockley then came mighty close to scoring an equaliser on two occasions. Firstly he stuck out a leg to guide Jonathan Smith’s shot into the arms of James Shea, before the home stopper then clung onto the striker’s looping deflected left-foot shot after great interplay between Drury and Griffiths down the left.

The Town were dominating as the hosts’ threat diminished, but after Guttridge shot wide on 61 minutes, Stockley was denied what seemed a cast-iron penalty when going down under pressure from Dave Winfield. The Hatters striker was booked for his troubles but it seemed a hugely harsh decision on the Hatters.

You could have been forgiven in believing that decision could knock the Town’s confidence but on 67 minutes, four minutes after his introduction, Lee drew the Hatters level with his first touch. Guttridge was again the engineer, threading a ball to the West Ham striker and he did the business with a super composed finish underneath the body of Shea. 2-2 and game on.

Level, the Hatters now went in search of a winner but in truth the home side upped the ante after the equaliser and Justham had to be alert on 73 minutes to tip over a goal-bound free-kick from Sean Rigg.

In a frantic final few moments both sides went for a third goal and the home side were denied by Justham again when substitute Adebayo Azeez raced through on goal as the Dons broke on the counter.

And that seemed as though that would be the final chance – until the Dons won it with the final kick. The Town failed to deal with a long ball into the penalty area, allowing Connolly to nip in, round Justham and slot home into the unguarded net to undo all the Town’s early good work. And that was that. Gutting.

TOWN: Justham; Harriman, Griffiths, Lacey, Franks; Smith, McGeehan, Drury (sub Lee), Oduwa (Lawless), Guttridge; Stockley (sub Wall).

Subs not used: Gooch, Howells, Parry, Whalley.

Attendance: 4,050, including 829 from the Town.

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    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.