BY DANIEL MARSH
Glyn Hodges hailed the character of his AFC Wimbledon side after they recovered from a late setback to claim all three points against Gillingham in a huge victory on the road.
The Dons took the lead early in the second half through ex-Gill Joe Pigott, before they were pegged back just minutes from time. Callum Reilly, another facing his former club, popped up with the winner in injury time.
“The boys were fantastic,” explained the Dons manager after the dramatic finale amid challenging conditions in Kent.
“I can’t remember the last time we had decent conditions! The wind kills the game, as you know, and second half we couldn’t get out of our half, although we scored two goals against the wind. I felt that we battled, we stuck to a game plan. Reading [beforehand] in their programme notes said that they’re expecting to be in the play-offs with the run of games they’ve got and they’re gonna be up there or thereabouts – to go and win away at a team as good as that, we’re delighted.
“We looked together, we looked a team, we looked solid. We believed we could get the three points.Our performance gives you that belief and gives you the confidence. Even with that goal [Gillingham’s equaliser], it’s disappointing, but to then go again [late on] with the character to get the winner is fantastic.”
Hodges touched further on the game plan that saw the Dons overcome Steve Evans’ side – who had not been beaten in 15 games since they were toppled by AFC Wimbledon back in November.
“We played them at home, and you know that they’re long ball,” explained Hodges.
“You know balls are gonna be knocked down, so we tried to populate the midfield and make sure we weren’t outnumbered, and I thought we were comfortable. We had a couple of chances but the game plan was working because they can dominate and overpower you at times. I felt we nullified that and then it was just a little bit of belief to go and get the goals.
“We had the two best chances in the first half. Second half we get our two goals and maybe Joe could have scored a second too with a great ball from Kwesi. To create those clearcut chances at a place like this, we’re pleased.”
Reilly’s later winner saw the Dons record victory for the first time since mid-January – eight matches have passed since the Dons triumph over Peterborough, although there have been demanding fixtures in that spell.
“We haven’t got the wins, but the performances have been good,” said Hodges when discussing recent results.
“We could have beaten Blackpool, we should have beaten Fleetwood – we’ve been grinding out results. The win was obviously the one we wanted, but we’ve picked up points. This has been a very hard month for us. The away games we’ve had in this month have been Oxford, Rotherham and Gillingham. They’re probably some of the hardest teams you’ll face, so to come away with four points in those three away games we’re pleased.”
PICTURES BY PAUL EDWARDS
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.