It was bedlam at Highbury Stadium on Saturday afternoon as Fleetwood Town scored late on to cancel out AFC Wimbledon’s opener to secure a valuable point as the end of the season draws closer.
The visitors took the lead midway through the first half as Luke McCormick broke the deadlock and, in a game that had very few chances at either end of the pitch, it was Joe Garner who came off the bench and stole the headline, netting an equaliser just before added time in the second half.
It was a cagey start, with both sides trying to keep hold of the ball, but with some nice passing sequences from Town, they were able to make some gilt-edged chances.
Anthony Pilkington had the first chance 14 minutes in as he picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box, but his effort was blocked by Ben Heneghan, which made it easy for Nikola Tzanev to collect.
Not long after, Fleetwood were driving forwards, down the centre this time as Pilkington showed some close control to bring the ball down and feed in Josh Harrop to his left, but the winger’s effort flew the wrong side of the post.
The visitors then took the lead after 22 minutes as tricky play led to the ball being played to McCormick, who was free on the edge of the Fleetwood box, and placed the ball into the top-right, out the reach of Alex Cairns.
Not much else happened in the first half apart from two half-chances for the Cods. One came around the half-hour mark for Pilkington, but he was stopped by Paul Kalambayi. The other was for Cian Hayes, who weaved his way between two defenders, but his effort as blocked and cleared.
The 5,000 supporters at Highbury had to wait another 10 minutes after the half-time break for the next chance, which was fired wide of the far post by Hayes. Danny Andrew, on his return to the side after injury, produced a brilliant cross-field ball to the winger, who took on his man but fired off target.
A hard-fought battle was what was expected and that was the case as chances were at a premium for both sides. In the 78th minute, Fleetwood tried their luck from range – via Dan Batty – which was deflected wide of the far post, but this spurred the side on to create another soon after.
It was from the resulting corner, which was whipped into a packed Wimbledon box and, even though Town attempted to guide the ball goalward on two occasions, Tzanev was able to collect.
It was brought back to level terms just before the 90-minute mark as substitute J.Garner drilled Andrew’s free-kick into the bottom right, past the goalkeeper after Town were gifted an indirect free-kick.
They had a chance to take the lead five minutes into injury time as Batty played in a free-kick towards the front of the pack on the edge of the box, where Zak Jules was lingering, and he managed to get on the end of it but headed over.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Andrew (C), Jules, Harrop (Morris 61’), Harrison (Butterworth 19’) (J.Garner 71’), Camps, Pilkington, Batty, Nsiala, Hayes, Macadam.
Unused subs: O'Hara (GK), Biggins, Boyle, Bird.
Dons XI: Tzanev (GK), Nightingale, Marsh, Hartigan (Adjei-Hersey 90’), Cosgrove (Osei-Yaw 70’), Assal, Rudoni (Chislett 81’), McCormick, Heneghan, Kalambayi, Brown.
Unused subs: Broome (GK), Lawrence, Mebude, Guinness-Walker.
Attendance: 5,019 (365 away).