AFC Wimbledon 0-1 Mansfield
Neal Ardley refused to blame his players despite AFC Wimbledon losing to ten-man Mansfield at Kingsmeadow.
The Dons sensed blood after Robert Taylor was sent off in the 34th minute for a two-footed lunge on Sammy Moore, but it was Mansfield that sealed the points courtesy of Vadaine Oliver’s calm finish.
Ardley was naturally disappointed, but felt his players gave everything to get themselves back into the game.
“I can’t fault my players. Sometimes you can say we didn’t give everything, but they gave me everything. It’s just one minor error that has cost us the point,” he said.
“I can’t fault Jake [Goodman] for the goal. He’s a young lad of just 21 and since he’s come in, he’s done fantastically well for us.”
It was a spirited performance from the Stags and their goal came against the run of play. Oliver muscled past his marker and then drove forward, before slotting the ball past James Shea.
Wimbledon continued to press but found Mansfield’s goalkeeper, Dimitar Evtimov, in inspired form.
He made three outstanding saves in stoppage time denying Matt Tubbs, George Oakley and Harry Pell.
Ardley praised Mansfield’s resolve, but felt that all three points were there for the taking.
“Naturally I am disappointed and frustrated as this was a winnable game. But credit to Mansfield, they came here and scrapped and fought for everything,” he said.
“We struggled a little bit in the first half, getting to grips with their shape. We were too narrow and we gave the onus to them.”
A poor night for the Dons was made worse by an injury to star striker Adebayo Akinfenwa.
Ardley added: “It’s too early to say about the injury to Bayo, but once he had to go off, we carried less of a physical threat up front.”
Ardley will hope ‘The Beast’ recovers in time for their next game were they face mid-table Portsmouth next Friday.
The Dons are now in 15th position following their second successive defeat at home, while Mansfield moved up three places to 16th in Sky Bet League 2.