It was important we didn’t panic: Johnnie Jackson applauds AFC Wimbledon win



Posted Sunday, September 24, 2023 by PA

It was important we didn’t panic: Johnnie Jackson applauds AFC Wimbledon win

AFC Wimbledon boss Johnnie Jackson praised his side for not pushing the panic button after they missed a penalty and conceded an equaliser to 10-man Walsall before wrapping up a 3-1 win at Bescot Stadium.

The visitors led early through Connor Lemonheigh-Evans’ 20-yard strike and played most of the game a man up after Taylor Allen’s red card for a studs-up tackle on Omar Bugiel.

But Armani Little’s spot-kick, after a Ryan Stirk handball, was saved by Walsall keeper Owen Evans and the Saddlers levelled through Freddie Draper’s fine finish on the turn.

Wimbledon kept calm, though, and Ali Al-Hamadi set up Jack Currie to fire them back ahead before sealing a third away in four league trips himself with a crisp 18-yard finish.

“We controlled the game for the majority of it and got what we deserved,” said Jackson.

“After the equaliser, I was thinking ‘how are drawing a game we’ve been in total control of?’ And you think ‘right, we’ll see what the boys are about now because we’ve been pegged back’.

“But we carried on playing well and doing the things that had got us success.

“I wanted to see what the boys were about and it was important we didn’t panic and start changing what we had been doing so well up to that point.”

Wimbledon were victorious despite the absence of injured top scorer James Tilley, who had netted seven of their 12 league goals – a point which pleased Jackson.

“James has been on fire for us but it helps when you’ve got replacements like Connor, when you’ve got these players who are raring to go,” the manager added.

“I didn’t doubt that we couldn’t score goals without Tilley. I felt like we should have scored a host more than we already have up to this point.”

Walsall hit the bar through Isaac Hutchinson moments before Allen’s dismissal, a stroke of bad luck boss Mat Sadler was left to rue.

“Fortune wasn’t on our side today but the frustrating thing for me was the way we started the game,” he said.

“We gave ourselves a mountain to climb and that’s twice within the last two weeks we’ve gone one down within six minutes.

“That for me is the frustrating thing. There’s elements from how we started the game that we need to learn from.

“I suppose the ‘sliding doors’ thing happens where you hit the bar and four seconds later you lose a man, that then ultimately takes it away from us. Those little fine margins.

“The red card felt harsh at the time. I didn’t see it coming and it didn’t seem like any of their players felt like it was a decision he was going to make, and that quite clearly alters our ability to really get ourselves into the game.”

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