AFC Wimbledon returned to Plough Lane after 29 years on Tuesday with a 2-2 draw with Doncaster Rovers at their new stadium.
Wimbledon forward Joe Pigott christened the stadium with its first goal in the 18th minute before Doncaster midfielder Matthew Smith, on loan from Manchester City, levelled the score six minutes later.
A second Pigott goal in the 83rd minute appeared to be the winner for the Dons, before Doncaster’s James Coppinger equalised in extra time.
The draw sees AFC Wimbledon remain in 11th place in League One, with 14 points after 11 matches.
Wimbledon manager Glyn Hodges told AFC Wimbledon TV: “It was probably our worst performance of the season.
“They probably deserved to win the game.”
But the day was a success regardless of the result as the club marked its first game in a new 9,300-seater stadium.
Dons Trust board member Marc Jones told AFC Wimbledon TV: “Football results aren’t what it’s about.
“It’s about being home where you belong and feeling like everything that you put into it belongs to you and can’t be taken off you.”
Jones formed AFC Wimbledon in 2002 with fellow fans Kris Stewart and Trevor Williams following the FA’s decision to allow Wimbledon F.C. to relocate to Milton Keynes.
Six promotions in 13 seasons took AFC Wimbledon from the ninth tier to the third tier of English football.
Williams told AFC Wimbledon TV: “We started in an office and were making it up as we went along.
“The story is too over-the-top to write, within 18 years you’re back at Plough Lane when everyone had told you it’s impossible.”
Jones added: “It’s not even a pinch yourself moment, because it’s too far-fetched for that”.
The Plough Lane project faced an £11 million shortfall in 2019, but fan support helped raise over £5 million in bonds to continue construction.
In keeping with the club’s supporter-led structure, the club positioned hundreds of cardboard cut-outs of fans around the stadium for Tuesday’s game.
Dons Trust Chair Mark Davis told fans via AFC Wimbledon TV: “You’ll be here in spirit and some of you will have a replica here.
“Our first real return will be when we can have all our fans in the stadium.”
AFC Wimbledon may face a difficult season despite the return home, having finished 20th in the 2019/20 season, three points above the relegation zone.
Picture credit: Kirk Pritchard