Walsall steal late point

Wimbledon 2 Walsall 2
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The Independent Football

With his second goal of the night, David Connolly thought he had secured victory and presented Wimbledon with their first home victory in a midweek League match since September 1997.

However, fairytales are in short supply for the Dons these days and with just three minutes remaining the Walsall substitute Jorge Leitao equalised that 73rd minute goal and extinguished those hopes with a stinging drive from all of 20 yards.

Connolly had threatened to score the game's first goal as early as the first minute, but that miss only led to further attempts before the Republic of Ireland striker produced the goods.

With 29 minutes gone, a neat three-man move around the Walsall penalty area saw Michael Hughes chip a well-weighted pass in for Neil Shipperley, and he headed down for his strike partner to do the rest from six yards.

Walsall were showing two changes from the team that had lost 2-0 at Bradford on Saturday, but although they had failed to seriously threaten Kelvin Davis in the first 40 minutes, they found themselves level going into the interval and were then only denied the lead after an acrobatic save by Davis.

In the visitors' first sustained attack, Wimbledon failed to clear their area and with three minutes to go before the break, Thomas Thogersen's volleyed shot took a deflection and levelled the match.

A minute later, Darren Byfield was then presented with a crystal clear chance to give the Saddlers the lead, only to force a diving save from the alert Davis.

Hakan Mild, the scourge of England in their recent friendly with Sweden, was making his home debut for Wimbledon but having played in front of 67,000 fans at Old Trafford, quite what the international midfielder made of the Dons' lowest home gate of the season ­ just 4,249 brave souls ­ at Selhurst Park was anyone's guess.

But even his dynamic style of play failed to kick-start his new team into life after the break, as Connolly wasted two chances early on to restore the lead, both times the Irishman being guilty of hesitation rather than simply trying his luck.

"People expect you to turn over the likes of Walsall, but they are a decent side," said the Wimbledon manager, Terry Burton. "The statistic that we haven't won at home in a midweek League match for some time isn't haunting me because it's just a statistic."

Wimbledon (4-4-2): Davis; Cunningham, Brown, Hawkins, Darlington; Hughes, Mild, Andersen, Cooper (McAnuff, 77); Connolly, Shipperley. Substitutes not used: Feuer (gk), Holloway, Francis, Agyemang.

Walsall (4-4-2): Walker; Gadsby, Barras, Carbon (Roper, 32), Aranalde; Wrack, Bennett, Thogersen (Keates, 65), Garrocho; Byfield, Angell (Leitao, 65). Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Biancalani.

Referee: L Cable (Surrey).