Cheltenham Town pressed the self destruct button in today's second half as AFC Wimbledon ran out 4-3 winners.
The day had started so well for the Robins with Troy Brown's fourth minute opener and they took that lead into half time with them but the game was soon turned on it's head. Jermaine McGlashan had actually stretched the lead to 2-0 soon after the break but a manic six minutes saw Wimbledon take the lead through Hylton (2) and Midson before Jason Taylor dragged his side kicking and screaming back level.
Cheltenham would have taken the point there and then but still Wimbledon came with wave after wave of attack and the Robins defence soon buckled under the pressure. A cross was missed by Scott Brown off his line and the header back across goal found the boot of Midson who stabbed it into the back of the net for 4-3.
A day in which game plans had flown out of the window and three points too.
Cheltenham Town were aiming to make it fives game unbeaten as they arrived at the Kingsmeadow Stadium this afternoon but their opponents AFC Wimbledon on the other hand were looking for their first win in five having not bagged three points in the month of March. Mark Yates named a few changes to his starting eleven with the Robins switching back to a diamond formation under the sun with Brundle, Vincent, Gornell and Cureton all dropping to the bench at the expense of Ihiekwe, Noble, Taylor and Harrison. For Byron Harrison it was a return to his former club for the very first time and the travelling fans would have been hoping for a similar performance that they had witnessed from his cameo performances from the bench over the last two games. Another familiar face was that of Alan Bennett
, the former Robins skipper, although he had to watch on from the Wimbledon bench.
With the sun beaming down upon the Kingsmeadow carpet the Robins would have been hoping for a good start but instead they got the perfect one. A Matt Richards freekick located on the left wing was dropped with precision towards Wimbledon's back post and Troy Brown was on hand to leap high and head the ball down beyond the grasp of Worner and into the back of the net. The perfect start but questions over the lack of marking by the home team's defence. It was a good reaction thereafter from Wimbledon as they immediately went to attack the Robins but Ihiekwe and goalscorer Brown coped well with the initial wave.
A David Noble freekick tested Ross Worner well soon after the game had breached the first quarter of an hour and Jermaine McGlashan came desperately close to bagging Cheltenham's second of the afternoon on 17 minutes after getting on the end of a Harrison flick on but the winger's shot was wide of the post much to the relief of the home support. The hosts did have their first opportunity to grab a goal back after Deering took Charlie Wyke over 20 yards from goal but George Francomb's set piece settled comfortably over the bar and into the stand behind. Jermaine McGlashan felt he could have had a penalty after going to ground at the hands of Jones but the referee felt it was a fair challenge by the former Robins defender. He did however draw a foul from Collins minutes later 30 yards from the goal forcing the referee to produce the first yellow card of the game.
Wimbledon certainly weren't playing like a side without confidence and Sammy Moore came close the levelling the scoreline with a driven effort just outside the box but Scott Brown was comfortable enough to let it slip wide of it's intended target. Another yellow was shown to Darren Jones following a barge into the back of McGlashan on 33 minutes with the winger causing plenty of problems in the more unfamiliar position of striker. There was brief concern after Francomb took a bump in the middle of the park and had to be treated with medics hovering but thankfully Wimbledon's wide man was back on his feet soon after and back in action.
As the game approached half time Wimbledon perhaps had their best chance of the game with a cross whipped in from the right wing towards the head of Sweeney but the midfielder put his effort wide under pressure by Jason Taylor and the chance was gone. Two yellow cards were shown to both McGlashan and Harrison in the final stages of the half for what looked to be dissent on both occasions although you would perhaps be hard pressed to find anyone but the referee who had an issue from the tackle it stemmed from. The sideshow of bookings aside and Cheltenham Town managed to take their lead in at the break with them despite a efforts from Wyke ahead of the whistle.
Half Time: AFC Wimbledon 0-1 Cheltenham Town
Wimbledon looked to be on a mission when they came out for the second half and the early waves of attack were from the home side but some superb work from Byron Harrison soon swang the game back in Cheltenham's favour. Sam Deering sacrificed himself to make a pass to Harrison on the left wing before getting smashed by his marker and Byron Harrison showed superb drive and strength to break into the Wimbledon area before laying a pass off the McGlashan who made in mistake in smashing the ball beyond Worner for 2-0. It was a superb counter attacking move from the Robins and Wimbledon now had it all to do.
Wimbledon certainly weren't out of this one and had Andy Frampton's header in the 57th minute hit the target then the game may well have been very different. In truth Cheltenham were looking comfortable though as the game approached the hour mark and it was clear that Mark Yates' homework had served him well. Scott Brown did have to deal with a few loose balls in his area as Wimbledon took to the wings to force opportunities and they did come close when the substitute Chris Arthur whipped in a superb cross only for Midson's head to steer it wide of goal and Brown's diving figure. Cheltenham Town were looking dangerous every time they went forward and again Jermaine McGlashan could have put his side out of sight but his sidestep on Frampton was followed up by a miss.
That miss soon came back to haunt the Robins as Wimbledon found themselves back ahead after just a few minutes of play. Substitute Danny Hylton was on hand to put Wimbledon back in the game with a close range effort that deflected off a Cheltenham defender and just a minute later the scores were level when Jack Midson's hopeful shot from outside the area took a big deflection beyond Scott Brown with the home fans erupting with noise. The scores were level but it soon got a whole lot better for Wimbledon fans. Neal Ardley's substitutions had made all the difference and it was Danny Hylton who drew thunderous noise from the home fans as he burst past Brown and drove through towards goal before round Scott Brown and putting Wimbledon ahead 3-2 with a tidy finish into the back of the net.
The travelling fans and the Robins probably didn't now what had hit them but they needed to react and fast. Cheltenham began to search for an equaliser still stunned but it soon came with Jason Taylor's hopeful hit finding a way past Worner to put Mark Yates' side back level. Mad scenes at the Kingsmeadow with the game bursting into life with goals raining down everywhere.
It was turning into one of those days where 'you had to be there' and Cheltenham weren't about to roll over. A Sam Deering header drew a comfortable save from Worner and an Ihiekwe overhead kick did little but drop wide as Cheltenham began to settle again after being rocked so hard. Wimbledon threatened to win the game on the 90th minute with Midson lining up a shot at goal from close range but a desperate block from Elliott provided the protection his goal needed to deny the striker before six minutes additional time were signalled by the fourth official.
AFC Wimbledon had perhaps the better forward play and you could sense something was about to happen - so it proved. A host of crosses and hopeful balls from the home side began to take it's toll on the Robins and a long ball was missed by Scott Brown with the header placed back across goal into the path of Jack Midson who stabbed it in from close range. It was the winner and how Cheltenham Town had thrown this one away was anyone's guess. Cheltenham Town had wasted a real chance of three points with sloppy defending in a madcap second half.
Full Time: AFC Wimbledon 4-3 Cheltenham Town
AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): Worner (GK); Fuller (C), Frampton, Jones, Richards (Arthur 54); Francomb, Collins (Hylton 66), Moore, Sweeney (Nicholson 46); Midson, Wyke
Subs not used: Brown (GK), Bennett, Pell, Moore
Cheltenham Town (4-4-2 Diamond): S Brown (GK); Ihiekwe, T Brown, Elliott (C), Jombati; Noble (Vincent 78), Taylor, Richards, Deering; Harrison, McGlashan
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Brundle, Braham-Barrett, Kotwica, Gornell, Cureton
Referee: Mr. Jeremy Simpson
Attendance: 3,670 (168 from Cheltenham)