AFC Wimbledon boss Johnnie Jackson upbeat despite missing out on play-offs

By Sports Desk April 20, 2024

AFC Wimbledon boss Johnnie Jackson was keen to focus on the positives despite seeing his side miss out on the League Two play-off places following a 3-2 defeat to Tranmere at Prenton Park.

Harvey Saunders put Rovers ahead in the 35th minute, racing clear and slotting the ball past Nik Tzanev after the Dons failed to clear the danger.

Rovers doubled their lead just before the break when Rob Apter netted his 13th goal of the season with a lovely strike from the corner of the box.

The Wombles halved the arrears 10 minutes after half-time when substitute Josh Kelly scored his first goal for the club, calmly placing the ball past Luke McGee in the Rovers’ goal.

But Jackson’s men faced an uphill battle when John-Joe O’Toole received a straight red card for a nasty looking challenge on Chris Merrie.

And with 20 minutes remaining, Rovers took full advantage when Connor Jennings restored their two-goal lead before Josh Kelly grabbed a consolation for the visitors in injury time with his second of the game.

Wimbledon boss Jackson said: “From our point of view it was two contrasting halves today.

“I thought we started the game alright but then gave away a soft goal, and after that I thought we were poor and lost our way a bit.

“We came out in the second half on the front foot and then got the red card, which I thought was harsh, but to be fair to the boys they kept going and we nearly got something out of the game.

“The season is done in terms of getting into the play-offs but, on reflection, we’ve progressed massively this season and we just couldn’t get over the line, but we’ve moved on considerably from last season.

“It’s my job in the summer to keep making those improvements and if we keep moving the club forward like we have, then next season we won’t fall short.”

Tranmere boss Nigel Adkins said: “It was a well-deserved victory today with five goals for the fans, but it should have been a lot more from our point of view.

“There was some good football in a competitive game and we created some good opportunities with Luke Norris playing up front as a centre-forward.

“What a super goal from Rob Apter while Connor Jennings scored a great team goal and Harvey Saunders was a real threat in the first half with his electrifying pace and deservedly put us in front.

“From my point of view we played some good football, scored some good goals and got a well deserved victory, so great credit to the players.

“We should have scored a few more, but we’re creating chances and we’re scoring goals. Obviously I’m disappointed with the two we’ve conceded but let’s not be too negative.

“We’ve finished the season off well at home and got a great reception from the crowd, who really got behind the team today.”

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