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1st February 2024 18:39

Boss: Stags can hold heads high after Dons display
mansfieldtown.net, Sat 27 Jan 2024

Manager Nigel Clough says Stags can hold their heads high after a last-gasp goal and a controversial decision not to award a penalty saw Mansfield leave AFC Wimbledon empty handed.

Stags played much of the contest with ten men after Jordan Bowery was deemed to have denied a goalscoring opportunity on 20 minutes.

The Dons then took the lead in first-half stoppage time before Will Swan’s sumptuous strike levelled the game for Mansfield on 62 minutes.

Stags were then denied a stonewall penalty in time added on when Davis Keillor-Dunn was dragged to the ground inside the box, and in the game’s dying embers, Wimbledon snatched the points with a second goal.

Offering his thoughts on the game, boss Nigel Clough said: “There was only one reason why we leave with nothing and that’s because of the decisions made by the referee all afternoon, nothing else.


“You get nothing for your efforts but we hold our head up high. We couldn’t have done anymore as a team to get a result.

“Sometimes officials make result-defining errors for whatever reason and that was the case today. We haven’t done anything wrong to lose that game today.

“I was pleased with the way we started the game, no problem at all with eleven men.

“The sending off was nowhere near as blatant as the one on Davis Keillor-Dunn on Tuesday night at home to Sutton. Jordan should not get caught in that position and should be a little bit cleverer once he is. But I don’t think it’s a clear goal scoring opportunity by any means. We’ve got two players running back. It’s not as if the ball’s been played through, but I wasn’t surprised at all that he brandished a red card. “

Omar Bugiel put the hosts ahead and Nigel said: “I think we had a couple of chances to clear it.

“I think Ollie Clarke, on the edge of the box, should have put his foot through it and didn’t. It’s then dropped to the lad and he’s put a very good finish in.

“We said at half-time, ‘just stay in the game’. We’ll have chances, we’ll have situations. Swanny will get half a chance on the break or whatever and that’s how it worked out.”

Swan levelled for Mansfield shortly after the hour.

“He’s looked sharp in training,” said Nigel. “We’ve been very close to starting him. We thought today would be an ideal opportunity to get two up there with Lucas and George Maris behind.

"Davis Keillor-Dunn had a tight hamstring this week which is why he didn’t start.

“He’s never out of our thoughts, Swan. The games just haven’t been quite right to get him on.

“After that, in the last 15 to 20 minutes I thought there was only one team that was going to win it.

“They cause you a few problems with high balls into the box but playing wise I thought there was only one team who were going to create the chances.”

Controversially, Stags were denied a stoppage time penalty when Keillor-Dunn was obstructed and brought down inside the area.

“You won’t see a more blatant penalty than that this season,” said Nigel. “He’s turned the lad lovely and about to get his shot off and has been dragged to the floor. The only thought is, was it a red card or not, that was our only thought. Once again, I was unsurprised by the decision, even as blatant as that.”


Nigel Clough said after the game:
"Magnificent performance. With 11 men I thought we would have won the game today.
"George Williams was ill overnight down at the hotel. Woke up with a little bit of flu and virus. So we sent him straight home.


Mansfield Town furious after AFC Wimbledon defeat as boss Nigel Clough brands referee’s display as ‘new low level of ine​​​​​​​ptitude’
chad.co.uk, Sat 27 Jan 2024

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough was furious with the performance of referee Will Finnie and his team in today's heartbreaking 97th minute 2-1 defeat at AFC Wimbledon.

Clough said the referee had sunk to a new low level of ineptitude as a string of key decisions went against the Stags.

Jordan Bowery was red-carded as last man with only 20 minutes gone.

Stags skipper Aden Flint was twice elbowed and left the field with what looked a serious shoulder injury 10 minutes later with no word to opponent Josh Davison.


Having gone behind and levelled through Will Swan, Stags then believed they had a nailed-on late penalty when Davis Keillor-Dunn was hauled down.

But referee Will Finnie decided otherwise and also sent off Stephen Quinn from the bench for his anger after he had already been substituted.

The Dons then completed a crushing afternoon for Mansfield with Ronan Curtis' late winner.

“It was an absolutely magnificent performance from start to finish and with 11 men I think we'd have won the game today,” said Clough.

“Even with 10 men I think we deserved to win it.

“Unfortunately everyone is going to be talking about one person's performance, which was so below par and so poor I am struggling to comprehend that was a Football League match today.

“Let's start with the decision after 20 seconds when their lad elbowed Aden Flint and didn't get booked and then did it again and didn't get booked.

“He was very keen to get yellow cards out for other things, but not for serious offences.

“Last Tuesday the official was incredibly poor, but I think this has taken it to a whole new level of ineptitude today.

“Everyone has been talking about this all season from the top of the Premier League all the way down.

“Unfortunately today we have seen it affect us in such an adverse way.

“The performance was so, so poor in every single aspect.

“We should have defended their winner a little bit better but with 10 men I thought we had defended so well.”

He continued: “It was such a stonewall penalty it is quite incredibe.

“And the sending-off was so harsh. We saw one the same the other night with Davis Keillor-Dunn where he was going clear much more ahead of the defenders than today's and nothing was given. Today we see a red card brandished.

“It is such a shame these officials are having such poor games.

“It is very difficult for us and the supporters to take.

“If we got the penalty we win the game so it's not just a point lost today, it's three points lost as there is no reason we can think of why he didn't give the penalty.”

With transfer window deadline approaching this week, Stags were looking to bring in a striker but now may also need a centre half depending on how serious Flint's injury proves to be.

“We are not sure of the seriousness or extent of it, so we will have to wait and see this week,” said Clough.

“Hopefully we will find out before the transfer window closes and act accordingly. I think we are about six defenders down at the latest count.”

On Quinn's second yellow of the day and dismissal off the bench in stoppage time, Clough added: “That was my fault as Stephen Quinn should have been in the shower. Such was the frustration building up all afternoon from the whole technical area.

“I think the provocation we've had to deal with today has been extreme.

“We had a fourth official who was winking and smiling at the technical area and the bench in an act of nothing else but provocation.

“Before the game they said 'talk to us'. Well we were talking and he came over and brandished a yellow card for Andy Garner for talking to him and asking him about the decisions, no swearing or anything, and we had to put up with them all afternoon.”

He added: “I am unbelievably proud of the lads. To play with 10 men for 70 minutes and come out the stronger team, get an equaliser after going behind and then to look to try to win it in the manner we did says an awful lot about the spirit in the camp.

“With 15 minutes to go there was only one team you could see winning it - and if the officials do their jobs correctly I think we do.”


“Exactly what we needed”
afcwimbledon.co.uk, By Chris Thorpe

Johnnie Jackson was almost lost for words after seeing the Dons snatch three points at the death against Mansfield Town.


It appeared that Wimbledon would have to settle for a point against the 10-man Stags after Omar Bugiel’s opener was cancelled out by Will Swan’s equaliser.

However it was Ronan Curtis who stepped off the bench to score with more or less his first touch as a Don in injury time to send the Cherry Red Records Stadium wild.

Here Johnnie reflects on the drama of the afternoon and pays tribute to his squad after what has been a testing week.


I don’t know how to put it into words to be honest - I think you saw in how I celebrated that winning goal, how much it meant to me, the players and the supporters.

To have that moment after such a low feeling on Tuesday - it was a tough week for everyone involved with the club, none more so than for our supporters. I asked for a reaction from my players and I think we saw that even if we didn’t play brilliantly.

We were good in the first-half but we probably played worse when they had 10 men. To have that moment together at the end with the fans is great and it was exactly what we needed.


I’ve seen the quality that he’s got. I’ve seen it when I’ve come up against him before - he has top quality that is a level above. It was nice to get him on tonight first and foremost - it’s been a year without playing for him. If you give him a moment he can be a matchwinner. I’m delighted for him.

He’s brilliant around the place, even before he signed he was well into what we’re trying to do here. He wanted to be a part of things here. That gave us the confidence to get the deal done for him.


He came on and had a brilliant impact. His opportunities have been limited, he went away on loan and has come back and had to wait for his chance. Fair play to the lad, he’s come up with that little moment. It was a really great goal to win it. Worthy to win any game.


He took a whack and that’s why we had to bring him off. He wanted to come off just before he scored but I told him he had to stick in until half-time. He then produced that bit of quality, that magic that he’s got. We’ve missed that, he showed what a big player he is for us. Hopefully the knock won’t be too bad.


He did great, he was really bright and positive with everything that he did. He looked to get at people, deliver and get shots off. He was a great attacking outlet for us.


I said to the group on Tuesday that nights like that can be a catalyst. You can take a bad result like that on the chin and use it as fuel to come again or you can feel sorry for yourselves, go into your shells and fall off a cliff. My lads have shown what they’re about today, they’ve shown that fighting spirit. It wasn’t vintage us but we got it done.


Johnnie Jackson told BBC London:
"It becomes more difficult sometimes against 10 men. They became less expansive, tried to stay in the game, wait for a moment.
"And I thought they did it really well. We lost our way a little bit.
"They got a goal, and they had a couple of moments where the game was in the balance. But we managed to produce a real bit of quality at the end there and got the winner."


‘Big-game mentality’ - Dons boss hails former Portsmouth winger after late winner against Mansfield
londonnewsonline.co.uk, by Edmund Brack

AFC Wimbledon boss Johnnie Jackson hailed Ronan Curtis after the former Portsmouth winger scored the winner on his debut in the 2-1 late win over 10-man Mansfield at Plough Lane on Saturday.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 20th minute when Jordan Bowrey was sent off for pulling down Josh Davison after he spun the defender.

Omar Bugiel - playing his first game since returning from international duty with Lebanon - put Wimbledon ahead in first half added time with a sweet strike from the edge of the box beyond Christy Pym.

Will Swan equalised for Mansfield in the 62nd minute when Lee Brown took a touch inside his own penalty area and failed to clear his lines, allowing the visitors to capitalise and bring the scoreline level.

The Stags wanted a penalty late on when Davis Keillor-Dunn went down inside the area, but referee Will Finnie waved play on.

But Ronan Curtis - on his Wimbledon debut after putting pen to paper on a deal until the end of the season - scored the winner for Wimbledon in the 97th minute to end a run of three League Two outings without a win.

The Dons bounced back to winning ways after suffering a 3-1 defeat at Milton Keynes on Tuesday.

“A crazy game,” said Jackson.


“We won it but could have lost or drawn it. Any result could have happened.

“To win it the way that we did at the end, there is why we do these games.

“I couldn’t understand how Jurgen Klopp wants to have a year out. I have only been doing it for two years, but this is great for us after a tough week.

“To have that moment with the supporters was fantastic.

“Ronan is a big player - a big character.

“He’s shown that in the couple of months that he’s been with us.

“That’s what gave us the confidence to go and make the offer to him. He equally wanted to be a part of what we’re doing.

“I know he’s got quality, but the boy hasn’t played for a year.

“You’re tempted to bring him on earlier, but we need to be careful with how we manage him.

“I wanted to bring him on during Tuesday, but the circumstances of the game took that away from us.

“To get him on the pitch was great, but to have that moment at the end, I’m delighted for him.

“And for Ryan McLean. He’s not had many opportunities. He’s not had many opportunities and went away on loan.

“He’s come back to us and had to bide his time, but he’s impacted it - he set up the winner.

“In those moments, you want someone like Ronan Curtis on the end of it because he’s got that big-game mentality.”


will_swan on instagram
Not much more we could have done about that one
Glad I remembered where I’m meant to kick the ball though