Stevenage 2 AFC Wimbledon 1
Neal Ardley fumed at the officiating as AFC Wimbledon’s fell to a narrow defeat at Stevenage, labelling the penalty decision that separated the sides as ‘brave.’
On-loan Cardiff defender Adedeji Oshilaja, making his debut for the club, was penalised after clashing into Dean Wells, with Simon Walton dispatching the resulting spot-kick to secure the points for the home side.
Stevenage had taken the lead through Tom Pett in the 32nd minute, before George Francomb levelled the scores moments later with a good finish.
Manager Ardley believed the Dons did enough to earn a point in an even contest at The Lamex Stadium, and vented his anger about the penalty award.
“It doesn’t surprise me that the penalty went that way, I thought the officiating all game was awful,” he said.
“It’s a brave decision to give it, then down the other end one player blatantly doesn’t play the ball and it doesn’t surprise me he never gave it for us.
“I thought the game was a draw all over, two teams fighting and scrapping in mid-table pushing for the play-offs, but unfortunately it hasn’t ended up that way and it hurts.”
The hosts started brightly and should have led after three minutes as Chris Beardsley missed two gilt-edged chances, first snatching wildly at a volley before looping a diving header over the crossbar.
Boro eventually took the lead just past the half hour mark as the lively Pett finished clinically from close range after Adam Marriott’s shot was deflected into his path.
Stevenage’s lead was short-lived as Wimbledon equalised after 35 minutes through Francomb, who curled a left-footed shot into the corner after cutting in from the right-hand side.
The match-winner arrived after 70 minutes as former England under-19 international Walton scored his second league goal of the season from the spot.
Despite Ardley’s protests, Stevenage boss Graham Westley insisted the referee made the correct call.
He said: “I think when that challenge went in today everyone in the ground knew it was a penalty. I’m surprised the police weren’t on for a GBH charge to be honest.”