BY DANIEL MARSH
AFC Wimbledon fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of play-off chasing Portsmouth – but their League One status was ensured for another campaign after results elsewhere went their way.
A slick finish from Joe Pigott handed the Dons a 23rd minute lead, only for Ronan Curtis to fire Pompey level barely a minute later. Two goals in as many minutes at the end of the first half from full-back Lee Brown capped the turnaround for the visitors.
Despite the result, defeats for Northampton and Rochdale were enough to ensure Wimbledon’s League One survival.
After having a dreadful time with set-pieces in midweek, a neat routine almost handed Wimbledon an early lead. A smart free-kick saw the ball fall to Jack Rudoni, who could only slice wide at the far post.
The Dons academy graduate went closer to breaking the deadlock a couple of minutes later, but Craig MacGillivray was equal to Rudoni’s stinging drive from outside the box.
The hosts enjoyed the best of the early exchanges, and they deservedly took the lead – albeit in bizarre circumstances.
A deep header from Ben Heneghan ended up putting Pigott through on goal, and the striker finished superbly from a wide angle after the Pompey team had stopped calling for offside.
The linesman had his flag raised early, but he was overruled by the referee, who had deemed Heneghan’s header had come off of the thigh of Portsmouth midfielder Ben Close, meaning the goal would stand.
Unfortunately for Wimbledon, that lead lasted barely 60 seconds.
A driving run down the right-hand side from Marcus Harness saw the Pompey attacker fizz a low ball right across the Dons box, with Curtis slamming home to restore parity.
The visitors completed the turnaround just before the break. A slick attack on the transition saw the ball worked to Brown on the overlap, and the Pompey defender lashed the ball beyond a helpless Nik Tzanev.
He had his second just a couple of minutes later in additional time. The ball fell to the full-back just inside the box and he stabbed into the roof of the net, leaving Wimbledon with a mountain to climb in the second half.
Pigott did his best to reduce the arrears with a 25-yard free-kick forcing MacGillivray into action, but in truth the Dons failed to muster up any sort of comeback after the break.
A disappointing afternoon was at least salvaged by proceedings off of it, with League One football secured in SW19 for next term.
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD
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