With no away league victory since beating lowly Altrincham two and a half months earlier, the five-goal thumping of Southport the previous Saturday gave Dons fans hope that the winless run away from home would finally end. Instead, AFC Wimbledon threw away a two-goal advantage and had to rely on the heroics of Seb Brown to avoid a humiliating collapse at Twerton Park and hang on for their fourth successive away draw in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
For the first time this season, Terry Brown put out a starting XI unchanged from the previous game. There was one change on the bench, Ryan Jackson taking the place of Christian Jolley.
Games against Bath City at Twerton Park have always been entertaining affairs, and, it has to be said, often end in a draw. This match started off like a cup tie, with end-to-end action and both goalkeepers called upon to make good saves. But neither side gained much of an advantage in this opening period. Wimbledon did force a succession of corners, eventually totalling ten in the first half, though regretfully little came of the pressure.
Bath’s excellent forward Kaid Mohamed issued a warning sign to the visitors when, on the half-hour, he found himself with space outside the box and unleashed a fantastic swerving strike; fortunately for the Dons, Seb Brown produced a save that was just as spectacular – and the first of many, most of which would come in the second half.
A minute later Wimbledon were ahead. Luke Moore displayed his continuing confidence and went on a mazy run from the halfway line. As he entered the Bath penalty area and was bearing down on goal, he was unceremoniously upended by former Wimbledon striker Danny Webb. Danny Kedwell took the penalty, and displaying his renewed confidence powered home with authority to Carl Pentney's left. The Dons were ahead, perhaps deservingly so.
Wimbledon now had self-belief aplenty. In the 40th minute James Mulley went on a stunningly powerful run from midfield into the Bath area but shot over the bar from 12 yards out. The whole Dons team were playing the ball around with ease, though their hosts were giving them rather too much room.
Another warning sounded a minute later, when Brown was again forced into a fine save. The hitherto solid Dons defence again let Mohamed free, and it was left to Brown to save at very close range and force the ball away for a corner. And, as happened after Mohamed’s first effort, the response was immediate.
Wimbledon put together an 18-pass move which ended with Kedwell, with his back to goal, chipping over an advancing defender to an unmarked Kirk Hudson, who controlled his first-time volley to perfection and net his first goal for the club and Wimbledon’s second.
The move and finish brought applause from the home supporters as well as the many Dons gathered at the far end of the ground. It was also a great birthday present for AFC Wimbledon Vice President Mike Richardson, who celebrated another notch at Twerton Park. That the goal arrived in the 45th minute presumably made Terry Brown’s half-time talk easier – though given the way the second half turned out, fans would be left wondering what it was he said.
But the talk on the terraces at half-time was how many more goals Wimbledon would score, such had been their dominance in the last 15 minutes of the first half. At the restart they were soon out of the blocks with a move that saw Sammy Moore played in by Kedwell. Just 60 seconds after the restart, Moore’s chip-back on the byline over the Bath keeper was cleared off the line by ever-alert City defender Sido Jombati, who in the first half had been very vocal in the berating of his team-mates.
Then, what was looking set to be a comfortable victory turned into a nightmare in the South-West. A free-kick was given away by Mulley’s impression of a goalkeeper some 25 yards out, and Marc Canham struck his shot into the top left corner and left Seb Brown static on the goal-line.
Now it was all Bath, and they forced corner after corner, much as the Dons had in the first half – though from their corners Bath looked dangerous each and every time.The home side had their tails up, as reflected in their play right across the pitch. Mohamed again looked threatening, and just before the hour mark, from 14 yards out, he forced Brown into his third great save of the day.
After weathering a menacing Bath storm, the Dons started to find their passing game again after Jackson and Rashid Yussuff replaced the tiring Hudson and Sammy Moore. On 73 minutes Kedwell could have put the game beyond reach, but his shot from 12 yards was well parried by Pentney. Unfortunately there was no Dons player coming up in support to dispatch the ball goalwards, and the home defenders clear their lines comfortably.
Substitute Jackson could have finished the game off with eight minutes remaining when he received the breaking Yussuff's slide-rule pass, but his shot ended up among the Wimbledon fans behind the goal. And then any thoughts of a third goal to put the game beyond doubt evaporated.
With just five minutes of normal time remaining, the Dons’ defence had two chances to clear its lines on the left, but failed, and Bath substitute Scott Murray netted from close range. It was dispiriting for Brown, who had made six top-class saves to keep his side in the hunt for three points. Terry Brown had been shouting out for a good few minutes before the equaliser to try to enliven what had become a sluggish defence and a midfield that failed to pick up the marauding Bath players, but his side were unable to respond.
Despite six minutes of time added on, neither side could muster a winning goal. For AFC Wimbledon, a day that showed immense promise had turned into yet another frustrating outing away from Kingsmeadow with three points collapsing into one, and they now faced yet another along away trip in three days’ time, to Gateshead. For Bath, their battling qualities earned them a point that had looked beyond them at half-time.