Longman double ensures AFC Wimbledon claim a precious point in Nigel Adkins' first Charlton outing
AFC Wimbledon (1) 2 Longman 15, 65
Charlton Athletic (2) 2 Stockley 10 Jaiyesimi 21
The Dons hit back twice through Ryan Longman to deny Nigel Adkins a win in his first game as Charlton boss.
The point was richly deserved after a second half in which they asked most of the questions and played with a tempo which troubled their promotion-hunting east London rivals.
It had looked as if goals from Jayden Stockley and Diallang Jaiyesmi - off the bench after just five minutes after an injury to Conor Washington - had put the Addicks in the driving seat.
But the spirit shown by the battling Dons got its just reward – albeit thanks to a defensive howler.
It has been a whirlwind week for Charlton with the sudden departure of Lee Bowyer and the brief caretaker tenure of Johnnie Jackson for the midweek win against Bristol Rovers.
But this was a game where the players wanted to show the new man – the one-time physio who made his name at Southampton – what they could do.
Charlton owner Thomas Sandgaard was also in attendance to see the new man take his place on the touchline. He says it was Adkins’ character as much as his track record which landed him the job.
The Dane joked beforehand that there was no pressure to deliver promotion this season, but that he had booked flights to attend the play-off final at Wembley.
Equally importantly for the players, of course, was the win they wanted to keep them among the front-runners in the League One promotion hunt but they could have no qualms about having to settle for a draw.
The sides shared seven goals in a crazy first encounter between the teams at the Valley back in December (Charlton winning 5-2), and seemed intent on making it another memorable afternoon.
The Dons started the brighter, but fell behind after just 10 minutes, when Stockley twisted athletically to steer a superb stooping header beyond Nik Tzanev – the ball from Liam Millar so inviting.
And it was the lively Millar who claimed another assist after the Dons had briefly restored parity through Longman’s low shot across Ben Amos.
Charlton’s left-sided midfielder picked out sub Jaiyesimi in the box and the striker showed great composure to set himself and fire home for his first goal for the club.
The frantic nature of the contest subsided briefly, as Charlton gained a measure of control, but the Dons showed real fight at the start of the second half and upped the pace of their attacks.
In one lightning counter-attack, Jaakko Oksanen played a fine ball out wide to Longman and a race to the byline ended with a pull-back that cried out for the merest touch but eluded all and sundry.
But there was to be a gift for the Dons to allow them their second equaliser of the afternoon, when Akin Famewo, under no pressure inside his own box, somehow contrived to roll the ball straight to Longman for a simple tap in past a helpless Amos.
Both sides had chances to win it. Joe Pigott cracked a near-post shot against the outside of a post as the Dons enjoyed a burst of energy following their fortunate leveller and the Wombles’ top marksman forced a fine save from Amos with a curling free-kick from the edge of the D as the hosts chased a win.
And Charlton had their big chance to snatch all three points right at the death when a ferocious shot from Chuks Aneke came back off a post. It was a fitting end to a breathless encounter.
Dons: Tzanev – O'Neill (Guinness-Walker 63), Heneghan, Nightingale, Alexander – Dobson, Oksanen – Longman, Woodyard, Assal (Rudoni 63) – Pigott. Subs not used: Palmer, Chislett, McLoughlin, Cox, Osew
Addicks: Amos – Gunter, Famewo, Pearce. Maatsen – Morgan (Pratley 78), Shinnie, Forster-Caskey, Millar (Aneke 64) – Stockley, Washington (Jaiyesimi 5) (Schwatz 79). Subs not used: Oshilaja, Watson, Maynard-Brewer