IT’s been 30 years since Wimbledon and the ‘Magaluf Shuffle’ last came to Gigg Lane to celebrate a championship and Luke Moore made sure the Dons took something home with them on Saturday while the navel-gazing continues at Bury.
You read the reaction of the home fans and the mood at the Shakers is depressing. Plenty want the caretaker manager Ronnie Jepson out, the club is wallowing in 21st spot, just a point above the relegation zone.
It’s a classic case of a cash-strapped club relegated from League 1, with a new board of directors that saved the Shakers in the summer and signed nearly 30 players trying to kick-start the club’s dwindling fortunes.
“It’s not as depressing as last season but not far off! Home performances have been awful for the past 5-6 weeks and we are conceding lots of goals and hardly scoring any,” one Shakers fan told WDSA.
@TerryGibson88 hope he's talking greyhounds. Not sure about his football tips. Leading member of the crazies and also the Magaluf shuffle.
— Paul Gray (@pgraysie1) July 2, 2013
“We have the nucleus of a decent side and should be much higher up the league but until we get a proper manager I fear we’ll be nearer the bottom than the top.”
There might be some (not many) who are impatient at times over the occasional bad Wimbledon result, but you only have to see how far the Club has come — the old Dons beat Bury 3-1 in the final game of their Division 4 championship season in 1982-83 under Dave Bassett, and yet 30 years on the Shakers are back to where they were and the Dons – having to start from scratch – are above mid-table and just two points outside the playoffs.
You know where you’d rather want your club to be. Sometimes you should appreciate just what you’ve got.
Yet the reality is that the Dons travelled north to a club playing in League 1 last season and came away with a point. It may not have been fancy but these are the building blocks of a successful season. You don’t necessarily play all that well, yet you have something to show for it.
Wimbledon are about halfway in points to what they set out to achieve: to stave off the threat of relegation and perhaps press on under Ardley for a crack at the playoffs.
It also continues a little run of success since that six game win-less run that marooned the Dons and there is no apparent residue with Ardley’s team still in with a shout of the playoffs more than one-third of the way into the season.
The Dons fell behind to a goal in the 35th minute. Former Aldershot striker Danny Hylton, on loan from Rotherham, met Dean Howell’s cross and beat Ross Worner with a looping header.
We work hard and put a shift in but dont win! I We said the same thing at Aldershot last season and we went down! Danny Hylton
— Keith Maddock (@Keithclubline) November 23, 2013
The Shakers had barely tested Worner up to that point after Wimbledon had started the better. The Dons would again have to come from behind in the second-half.
Ardley brought off on-loan Kaid Mohamed in the 64th minute, Jack Midson came off the bench and the Dons were level two minutes later through the reliable Luke Moore.
A long ball from former Shaker Peter Sweeney looked as though defender Nathan Cameron would clear the danger, but the centre half lost his footing and allowed Moore to lash the ball past Brian Jensen for the equaliser.
It was Moore’s first goal since the August home match against Wycombe Wanderers and he showed great movement to pounce on Michael Smith’s flick-on to produce an emphatic finish. That was Moore’s 29th league goal since joining the Dons from Ebbsfleet in July 2009.
The Dons picked up after Moore’s goal and could have nabbed all the points had substitute Jim Fenlon’s superb late effort had not sailed just wide.
“When you’re 1-0 down at half-time, and the opposition have caused you quite a few problems I think you’d take a point,” Ardley said. “We came out much better after the break as well as digging in when not playing particularly well.
“There was a lot more penetration and movement in the second-half. We got in behind their back four and I thought that in the end we looked like we had a lot more of a threat. Overall, I think it was a hard-earned point at a tough place to go.”
It was Wimbledon’s ninth away point this campaign and sets up for Tuesday’s London derby against the much-improved Dagenham & Redbridge at Kingsmeadow.
WDSA’s Rob Bushaway was at the game and said: “It didn’t look like Bury posed any threat at all and I was surprised when Bury scored. Then it was almost like waiting for the 60 minute mark to get the inevitable substitutions and go looking for an equaliser.
“Bang on cue on comes Jack Midson, we look more threatening, and get the equaliser. Jim Fenlon nearly nicked it right near the end with a great curling effort. At the end I think the players and the fans seemed happy to get a point and extend our recent unbeaten run in the league.”
Long-time Bury fan Malcolm Parr told WDSA:”Wimbledon are a hard-working, honest team who play for each other. Like many teams in the 4th tier they lack a reliable goal scorer.
“They aren’t afraid of ‘putting it about’ when this is required; this is something Bury don’t do, hence our position in the table. On Saturday’s showing, I don’t think Wimbledon are realistic contenders for a play-off position.
“They lack a game-changing player. However, they will secure a top-half finish if they continue to battle for each other.”
Peter Sweeney's back at Gigg Lane today. Reminiscing about the best passer of the ball League 2 has ever seen.
— eliot rothwell (@yungmuzhik) November 23, 2013
And a closing thought from a Shakers’ fan on AFC Wimbledon’s connection with Bury FC — midfielder Peter Sweeney, signed last January.
“The best passer of a ball we’ve had in the past 15 years. A crucial part of the team that won promotion three years ago who was then treated disgracefully by Kevin Blackwell last season,” Neil Davis said.
“He allegedly left for personal reasons (his family are from the south) but he texted a few of our fans after he’d gone saying he didn’t want to leave but he had to because Blackwell had forced him out.
“One of my favourite Bury players despite only being at the club for a couple of years and also a really nice bloke.”
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