Pools Un-Don By Two Late Goals
Pools were left stunned to leave the capital empty-handed after AFC Wimbledon came from behind to snatch an unlikely victory at The Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Colin Cooper’s side produced some wonderful football in a dominant opening seventy minutes but were made to pay the full price for the concession of two sloppy goals.
Pools began the game with real tempo and went at their hosts from the off; Luke Williams was at the core of everything good and when he set Luke James away down the right he teed up Brad Walker whose fierce shot was unfortunately straight down the throat of keeper Ross Worner.
James then galloped away down the right on to Simon Walton’s excellent pass but nobody could keep up with the teenage and his cross fizzed through the six-yard area and out of play.
Walker then found his range again when the ball fell kindly twenty-five yards out and the 17-year-old hit a sumptuous volley which Worner did brilliantly to palm over his bar.
Williams, always a threat, somehow wriggled in to space to shoot but saw his effort deflected in to the keeper’s hands, while Wimbledon’s only response in the early stages was a long-range strike from Harry Pell.
Monkhouse was winning plenty of balls in the air and when once such flick-on found James, the front man laid it back in to Monkhouse’s path but he drove his shot too high.
The hosts showed a menace from set-pieces when a right wing corner fell for Kevin Saint-Lucse but he didn’t connect cleanly and Pools were able to clear and race away on the counter-attack but this time Monkhouse saw his shot on the run blocked.
Walton lifted a free-kick deep in to the box where Christian Burgess came agonisingly close to nodding home, while Walton had to be alert at the other end when The Dons again showed their teeth from a corner.
Williams got in to a pocket of space on the edge of the box to fire a shot wide, while Walker sent a powerful free-kick wobbling towards goal but it flew just too high.
Pools were dominating and showing real attacking purpose, Monhkhouse tried another shot which fell back in to his path and he rifled that just off-target as Colin Cooper’s side looked for the breakthrough
It was the winger who came close again when James scampered away down the right and crossed for Marlon Harewood who teed up Monkhouse only for his effort to be deflected over the bar.
However, Pools finally got the goal their positive play had deserved with two minutes of the half remaining and predictably it was Williams who the architect. The on-loan attacker spun away from his man down the right and swept a perfect cross to the back post where Monkhouse nodded down for James to head in his second goal in two games.
The hosts began the second half in more encouraging fashion on the back of a double change which saw former Pools loan man Charlie Wyke and new signing Danny Hylton both introduced up front.
And Wyke almost scored with his first touch when he charged through on the right but he saw his firm drive across goal well save by Scott Flinders.
However, Pools were soon back on the front foot when Williams turned skilfully on the half way line and fed the ball through to Harewood who tore down on goal before firing a shot just over.
Monkhouse then hit a wonderful volley from the edge of the box which flew straight at Worner, while the keeper also did brilliantly to keep out a goalbound Walker drive.
Wimbledon served notice they were still in the game when Moore drew a fine save from Flinders down to his left, before Williams struck a free-kick which was held by Worner.
The Dons then drew level in fortuitous circumstances when they were awarded a contested free-kick which was floated in to the area for defender Will Antwi to win; his header looped high in to the air before bouncing down just over the line to level the game.
And just two minutes later Wimbledon completed an unlikely turnaround when Hylton got the ball on the edge of the box and found the room to turn and rifle a low shot in to the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
It was a double blow which knocked the stuffing out of Pools though they came close to equalising when James wriggled in to space before stinging the palms of Worner from the edge of the area.
Jack Barmby came off the bench and came as close to levelling as anyone when he fired a low shot through a crowded penalty box which Worner scrambled away and Monkhouse couldn’t force in the rebound.
Previous to tonight, Pools had won on each of the twelve occasions this season when they had scored the first goal – and this was a painful way for that particular record to be brought to an end.
Full Time: AFC Wimbledon 2 Pools 1
Booked: Austin (57), Baldwin (87), Walton
Att: 3730 (239 Pools)
AFC Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller (Arthur 68), Fenlon, Antwi, Morris, Jones, Sainte-Luce, Pell, Midson (Hylton 45), Sheringham (Wyke 45), Moore.
Subs Not Used: Bennett, Francomb, Moore, Brown.
Pools: Flinders, Austin, Baldwin, Burgess, Holden, Walton, Walker, Monkhouse, Williams, James, Harewood (Barmby 74).
Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Collins, Sweeney, Franks, Compton, Rodney.