Edds, we win - Torquay, you lose

MK Dons 2 - Tranmere Rovers 1
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The Independent Online

In the future non-League AFC Wimbledon, who claim to be the true inheritors of the original club, may pass the relocated MK Dons as they decline. But yesterday the Dons defiantly retained their League One position with a win, while Torquay sank beneath them on goal difference.

In the future non-League AFC Wimbledon, who claim to be the true inheritors of the original club, may pass the relocated MK Dons as they decline. But yesterday the Dons defiantly retained their League One position with a win, while Torquay sank beneath them on goal difference.

Being taunted by cries of "Going down, going down'' is all too familiar for the small band of Wimbledon fans who have transported themselves from Plough Lane via Selhurst Park and now watch the Dons at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes. Over the past five years they have endured relegation from the Premiership, suffered being down and out in the old First Division, and yesterday they were clinging to the faint hope that Tranmere, already sure of a play-off place, would not further grease their slide into that last remaining foothold in League football, now called League Two.

Tranmere's manager, Brian Little, had said he owed it to the other teams in the relegation battle to field his strongest side; nevertheless he rested Jason McAteer and Mark Rankine, while Ryan Taylor and Gareth Roberts were injured. And within six minutes the MK Dons seemingly had sapped some more strength out of them when Gareth Edds turned and beat John Achterberg.

Trying to build on that was difficult. A gusting wind often destroyed longer passes and Tranmere slowly diminished the Dons' desperate determination. Nevertheless, there was little between the side full of need and the one needing nothing more than some interest in the proceedings.

News that Torquay were losing brought the second- biggest cheer of a first half that ended with Tranmere's Danny Harrison being taken off on a stretcher and the Dons neither being greatly troubled defensively nor supporting their front men sufficiently. Even so, they were unfortunate when a neat volley from Izale McLeod clipped the crossbar.

They faced the dilemma of not wanting to risk losing their lead but really needing to increase it. Falling between the two, they saw the Tranmere substitute Dave Beresford curl in a splendid equaliser from outside the penalty area.

Desperate times now. Another Tranmere substitute, Eugene Dadi, smashed a shot against the bar. The Dons counterattacked. Torquay were two down. Hope hung on a thread. Suddenly Edds was in possession 25 yards out and slammed in two shots. And Torquay had lost. Safety - for at least another season.

The Dons manager, Danny Wilson, sensibly remarked: "We rode our luck when it went to the wire but we had been written off time and time again. I don't consider avoiding relegation an achievement, but we have responded to our critics.''

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