RUSSELL, THOMPSON, TERRY BROWN REACTION
It's the Wimbledon of old as route-one does it for the Dons
Friday 22nd April 2011, By Sam Elliott
AFC Wimbledon 2-1 Mansfield
Terry Brown made no apologies for reverting to the long ball game as in-form Wimbledon today pinched a fifth straight victory late on.
The Dons were reduced to winning ugly but eventually got the better of the FA Trophy finalists to all-but confirm second place.
Wimbledon went behind to a cracker from from Mansfield's Tyrone Thompson despite they themselves dominating early exchanges. He scored from 25-yards after a quarter of an hour against the run of play.
But the introduction of Lee Minshull gave the Dons another dimension and Jamie Stuart popped up to get the goal he deserved after twice hitting the woodwork. The defender, 34, bundled home Sam Hatton's corner after 68 minutes with a little help from his hip.
It looked like a predictable draw between two teams with little to play for but substitute Christian Jolley was having none of it. His shot hit Dons defender Brett Johnson and deflected in with four minutes to go to spark wild celebrations.
Brown refused to hide behind the shift in approach but Wimbledon's ability to adapt can only be positive with a huge few weeks ahead.
He said: “I didn't think we were ever going to win the game at one stage, I didn't think it was going to be our day.
“It was an ugly affair. We were reduced to going route one for a while, the pitch was getting harder and harder and with Manfield having nine men behind the ball for so long it was tough going. We had to change our ways but I've got no problem with that.
“Lee Minshull made a massive difference with his ability in the air and we got the substitutions right. Jolls is Jolls and he is always good for a goal.
“Credit to our players because it was a frustrating afternoon and boiling hot. Chasing the game when it's like that is always difficult.
“Hats off to Manfield. If you look at their recent run-in, the last month has been horrendous for them. They were dead on their feet.
“We should have taken advantage of the fact they've had so many games, and we did - eventually.”
Mansfield manager Duncan Russell – under pressure at Field Mill after a poor season and with a rich chairman due to plough in millions – said: “Wimbledon are a great footballing side and their manager said he was certain they weren't going to win. That shows we've played well.
“Given the amount of games we've played I can't have a go at my boys, even though we have thrown away the lead.”
Connor a major Wembley doubt AFTER INJURY IN DEFEAT AT wIMBLEDON
MANSFIELD Town were dealt a major Wembley blow today when experienced striker Paul Connor tore a calf two weeks from the FA Trophy final at Wembley.
Stags lost 2-1 at AFC Wimbledon where Conor Higginson also tore a hamstring and Luke Medley left the field with a tight hamstring.
So now, at best, Stags will have a Medley/Danny Mitchley partnership at Wembley although players are dropping left, right and centre, with so many games being played, Stags back in action at home to Gateshead on Monday.
Boss Duncan Russell said: “It looks like Paul has a calf tear and Conor has torn a hamstring so both must now be extremely doubtful for the rest of the season.
“Conor can't play at Wembley as he's cup-tied but Paul would be a big miss. It's not looking good. And we have another game on Monday.
“Luke came off as he was standing holding his hamstring too and if I had gambled on leaving him on we might have seen him suffer a worse injury.
“It has been difficult with so many games. Players are having days off, resting and having ice baths – all we can do. But they are not getting any real time to recover. When you go into games with fatigued muscles they will tear.”
Russell paid tribute to the Dons, saying: “They are a great footballing side. They are a joy to watch to be honest.
“Their manager said afterwards how we had been difficult to break down as we defended so resolutely.
“We lost two strikers and we really are now down to bare bones.
“I tried to give Louis Briscoe the rest he needed today and didn't want to play him at all but ended up having to put him on.
“I was really pleased with the effort and I think we deserved something out of the game. But it didn't go that way.
“Wimbledon play great football, have great movement and press the ball well in the right areas of the pitch.
“We have lost to a very good team but it's a shame we couldn't hold onto a point.”
He added: “We might have tested their keeper a bit more but when the ball went up top we had no one who could hold onto it.
“If you give possession away early time and time again against a team like that you will get punished. It took its toll in the end.
“But I was disappointed we conceded both from set pieces. That's what makes me angry as we could have taken a really good scalp here today but, as has happened all season, we couldn't defend set pieces.”
Goalscorer Tyrone Thompson said: “I had a photo shoot with my sponsor before the Grimsby game on Tuesday and he asked me why I didn't shoot more.
“So today I thought I would have a go if I got the chance and luckily for me it went in.
“Hopefully that goes some way to making up for my own goal at Hayes. The boys have been reminding me about that so I hope this one gets as many hits (on YouTube) as my own goal has!
“It was disappointing to lose as we really wanted to get something out of this one.
“They had a lot of the ball but we defended solidly. They are a strong side and played a diamond which you have to learn to deal with.”
Stags striker set to miss Wembley final due to injury
PAUL Connor is set to miss Mansfield Town's FA Trophy final at Wembley after tearing his calf in a 2-1 defeat at AFC Wimbledon yesterday.
The Stags led at the break through Tyrone Thompson's strike, only for the Dons to storm back in the second half and claim victory thanks to Jamie Stuart and Brett Johnson goals.
But of greater consequence for the visitors is that 16-goal Connor is a major doubt for the club's biggest game of the season against Darlington on Saturday May 7.
Conor Higginson – who is cup tied for that match – added to Mansfield's woes by sustaining a hamstring tear.
"It's not looking good for Paul Connor and he could miss Wembley," said boss Duncan Russell.
"Of course it depends on how bad it is, but having known that side of the job, I would say it looks very doubtful he will make it. It is a massive blow because he is the one who holds it up for us.
"Conor will have a scan in the next few days, but that could be his season over.
"Even though he can't play at Wembley, he could have played in these last couple of games so others could rest up."
On the game, Russell added: "The better team won in the end, they are a very good side, who play some good football and press in the right areas.
"We held on for as long as we could after going in front, but the pressure told, although I was disappointed both goals came after set pieces again.
"But the players have to take the positives and they worked very hard and had a good work ethic. We defended well and resolutely for long periods."
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