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Wilbraham goal hands Dons a point


Aaron Wilbraham (left)

By Oli
March 7 2009

Aaron Wilbraham's goal earned the Dons a point at the County Ground after they had fallen behind to a Billy Paynter header. Captain Dean Lewington was sent off for his second bookable offence late in the game.

It's a third successive draw for Roberto Di Matteo's men but at this stage of the season it must be taken as a point gained, even though the Dons probably would have gone into the game hoping for all three.

Jason Puncheon sat out through suspension, with Sam Baldock coming in and the Dons reverting to a 4-4-2, Baldock partnering Wilbraham in attack. Alan Navarro and Jemal Johnson were passed as fit, and started in midfield alongside Peter Leven and Luke Chadwick. Miguel Llera was again absent with a foot injury so Jude Stirling continued at centre-back, while Shaun Cummings was once again preferred to Carl Regan at right-back.

It was a game in which most chances came from some perhaps unconvincing defending from both sides on corners and throw-ins, with Sean O'Hanlon blocking against his former club early on after Kevin Amankwaah had met Hal Robson-Kanu's corner. Both sides struggled for clear cut chances after that, with Johnson on the left looking lively but a victim of the bobbly pitch when it came to quality deliveries.

Swindon left winger Anthony McNamee was similarly causing the Dons problems, and was the creator of a controversial opener on 18 minutes. The Dons thought they should have had a corner after Johnson's shot had been deflected wide, but after referee Andy D'Urso played on goalkeeper Peter Brezovan's long kick found McNamee, whose cross was converted by Paynter at the far post.

The Dons knew their chances of winning the game would be helped considerably if they could get a goal before the break, and it looked like they would respond well as Leven fizzed a shot wide soon after the goal. But the Dons got not their last bit of very good luck a couple of minutes later as Simon Cox's cross from the byline was totally missed by Robson-Kanu, who should have easily scored.

And the Robins were regretting that miss as the Dons pulled level three minutes later. A long throw from Stirling into the box found Johnson at the back post and his drive across goal was turned in by the in-form Wilbraham, netting his 13th of the season, a career record for the frontman.

Dons were starting to put some nicer moves together and after some good play from Baldock on the right Wilbraham tried to set up Leven, but Swindon midfielder Lilian Nalis made the block.

And Swindon spurned another big opportunity a minute later, again involving Robson-Kanu and the dangerous Cox. This time it was the latter guilty of poor finishing however, as Robson-Kanu's ball across was slammed into the crossbar from ten yards by Cox, who has scored 19 league goals this season.

Dons were holding on a little and Di Matteo reacted accordingly, withdrawing Baldock to the right wing and moving Chadwick into the centre, with Wilbraham just in front of him as the lone striker.

It didn't get instantly better for the Dons in the second half, as Willy Gueret made a superb stop to keep out Paynter, although the offside flag had gone up. And again the Dons escaped by the skin of their teeth as Paynter's shot from the left hit the post, with Gueret blocking Cox's follow-up.

Dons were struggling to get any sort of grip on the game but earned a corner in the 56th minute. After Swindon struggled to clear the ball Wilbraham drove a shot that was blocked, according to the Dons players by a hand, but the referee waved play on. 

Johnson, a little quieter in the second half, was withdrawn for youngster Daniel Powell in the 58th minute, and that summed up what the game had been about - not terrific in quality but pace and power had been high on the menu.

The change didn't really swing the match in the Dons' favour though as the very dangerous McNamee swung in another cross from the left and Robson-Kanu's back post header was saved by Gueret, who was starting to keep the Dons in it.

Dons reverted to 4-4-2 in an attempt to press Swindon, while the Robins subbed the lively McNamee, bringing on Mark Marshall and switching Robson-Kanu to the left. Swindon have the players to be a good side on their day; dangerous widemen in Robson-Kanu and McNamee, coupled with a big man in Paynter and the skilful Cox up front, but you imagine when the wingers are nullified, they might struggle. Dons didn't do that, and they were really hanging on as a result.

Again the three of those four remaining on the field worked a chance, as Paynter won the ball and Cox found Robson-Kanu on the left, with Cummings blocking his shot well.

But the Dons nearly nicked what would have been an undeserved victory on 85 minutes, as another Stirling throw caused Swindon problems. O'Hanlon flicked on with Brezovan in no man's land, but Chadwick's slide could only divert the ball onto the post.

It got worse a minute later as Marshall raced down the right and was brought down by Lewington, who, already on a booking, was dismissed by referee D'Urso. Lewington will miss Tuesday night's clash with Huddersfield as a result. Impressively for a defender, those two yellows were Lewington's first of the season. Chadwick was replaced by Regan, who slipped in at left-back.

A couple more Stirling throws caused Swindon late problems but the Dons really didn't look like scoring in the second half and bring back a more than slightly fortunate point to Milton Keynes.

Swindon: Brezovan; Amankwaah, Morrison (Ifil 82), Greer, Vincent; Robson-Kanu, Nalis, Timlin, McNamee (Marshall 76); Cox, Paynter.

Unused subs: Smith, Sturrock, Razak.

Goals: Paynter 18.

Dons: Gueret; Cummings, O'Hanlon, Stirling, Lewington; Chadwick (Regan 88), Navarro, Leven, Johnson (Powell 58); Baldock, Wilbraham.

Unused subs: Abbey, Gerba, Belson.

Booked: Powell, Leven, Lewington.

Sent off: Lewington 86.

Goals: Wilbraham 27.

Attendance: 7,453.

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Wilbraham goal hands Dons a point
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07/03/2009 17:18
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