Poor defending cost AFC Wimbledon the chance to take three points on a cold afternoon at Kingsmeadow between two even-matched sides. Having worked hard to claw back the deficit from an early Jon Main strike, the Dons were left to rue missed chances and the width of the post after looking secure at 2-1 with 20 minutes remaining.
The visitors came out looking to control the game from the start and looked to be causing problems for an overly casual Dons? defence and, only 8 minutes in, found the inevitable early breakthrough. Using his quick feet and vision to shape his opportunity from the edge of the box, Main planted a low right footed shot past Little?s outstretched arms into the bottom corner.
The stunned silence around the ground initially failed to spur the home side into decisive action. Tonbridge were looking more assured in controlling the game from midfield and keeping Watson and Daly anonymous with a direct and tenacious style of play. But the Dons? confidence soon began to grow, due in part to their obvious threat from set pieces in the form of Scott Fitzgerald, and ultimately, the contribution of returnee Jermaine Darlington. Finding match fitness and a few extra yards of space from the wide left position, the tricky flyer soon began causing some serious problems for the home defence. It was of little surprise to the 2,500 when, having been clattered heavily by a desparate Dan Powell, Darlington stood up to curl a delightful right footed free kick on to the grateful head of Fitzgerald. Rising highest in the box and directing a strong downward header past the Angel?s keeper, Wimbledon deservedly pulled level.
With halftime approaching Tonbridge began to tire after their strong start, with Wimbledon controlling the game in midfield and linking up nicely across the pitch. As the visitor?s defence fell further back towards their own goal, so Darlington was given licence to perform more trickery, first sending a cutback across the face of goal from a mazy run and five minutes later whacking the right hand upright with a spectacular curling effort. With Dsane from a tight angle and Fitzgerald, with a whipping free kick from the edge of the box, both coming close towards the end of the half, it certainly looked at that stage as though there could only be one winner.
But the visitors were not to be underestimated, and came out strongly right from the restart. Looking refreshed from the interval and determined to redress the recent 3-2 reverse at the same ground two weeks? ago, they soon began attacking the reluctant Wimbledon defence at will. It was looking very much as though the home side would concede when, against the run of play, Dsane, pressurising the Angel?s keeper from a long ball, benefited from a bizarre own goal. The pacy forward was happy to take the plaudits, despite not knowing much about it, but had worked extremely hard all afternoon and was worthy of a goal.
Fortune appeared to favour the Dons, but it was not long in lasting, as first Little was tested by a header which forced a late, low save to his left, and then Mike Power could only screw wide after finding space from five yards. As the Wimbledon back line pushed up more and more in support of the darting runs of Dsane, and with Darlington now largely anonymous, the long ball easily exposed their lack of pace at the back.
Shortly after Tonbridge had pulled level with the increasingly influential Kinch firing in from close range, they had taken the lead. Main was again the instigator of confusion at the back as Kersey and Little combined to send the ball ricocheting behind and into the home goal. Main would continue to cause problems for Kersey and Howard in the final minutes of the game and with the Dons tiring, scrappy challenges and the increasing role of the referee stifled their chances of taking a point.