Liam Manning happy with MK Dons’ second-half display in draw at AFC Wimbledon



Posted Sunday, April 10, 2022 by PA

Liam Manning happy with MK Dons’ second-half display in draw at AFC Wimbledon

MK Dons boss Liam Manning praised the character shown by his side in the second half after they earned a 1-1 draw at bitter rivals AFC Wimbledon.

Troy Parrott’s spectacular strike cancelled out Alex Woodyard’s opener to extend the visitors’ unbeaten run to 15 games and improve their position in the race to be promoted from League One.

MK Dons are now three points clear of third-placed Rotherham, albeit having played two games more, after steadily improving from a disappointing first-half display at Plough Lane.

The majority of those inside willed on what for so long looked like Wimbledon ending their long wait for a victory, against the perfect opponents, but it is now 23 games, over four months, since Wombles fans could celebrate maximum points.

Manning said: “Such a tense atmosphere was a new experience for some of the players we’ve got in the group.

“I thought the first half, a little bit, we played into their style, we made it too bitty and we didn’t really control the game.

“It was about 20 minutes before we had a first controlled phase of possession, so there was a lot of emotion and time where I felt we lacked a bit of discipline.

“We spoke about that at half-time and if you look at the second half, it sums the lads up; their character, spirit, togetherness, the never-say-die attitude that has done us so well over the course of the season.”

On Parrott’s equaliser, Manning said: “A moment of real quality. Great technique, terrific finish, and I thought we probably deserved to get something from the game.

“It was nice to score a goal in that manner and extend the (unbeaten) run.”

That run was placed in jeopardy when Wimbledon went ahead after 19 minutes, with their captain Woodyard scuffing the ball through a crowd of bodies after a free-kick had not been cleared properly.

It was the only real chance of a scrappy first half, with MK Dons continuing to splutter in the opening stages of the second, a tame shot from Kaine Kesler Hayden one of their rare efforts.

But the pressure from them grew as the game entered its closing stages, with Wimbledon keeper Nik Tzanev doing well to keep out Mo Eisa’s shot across him.

However, there was nothing he could do with 10 minutes left as Parrott thundered in a stunning volley off the underside of the bar after being picked out by Dean Lewington.

Wimbledon still had chances to win it late on, with Jamie Cumming blocking Ethan Chislett’s stooping header before Sam Cosgrove shot over in stoppage time.

It means Wimbledon manager Mark Bowen is still waiting for his first win in charge, but he was encouraged by what he saw.

Bowen said: “Anybody who’s seen us – certainly over the last three games – and counting the actual shots the keeper’s had to save in three games, they’ve been minimal.

“It seems to me that teams are getting one chance against us, and fair play to Troy Parrott, who is a top-class player at this level.

“I don’t want to do him a disservice, but maybe if he had that opportunity another 10 times, I’m not sure if he’d connect with it like he did there.

“We switched off, we’ll be looking at the details of the second phase from the corner – we maybe switched off in coming out and leaving him there.

“But our keeper has had one other shot to save in 90 minutes against a team who have won 14 of their last 17 and are the top scorers away from home in the division.”

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