Managers point to Premier League tests as Newport and Wimbledon share spoils
Johnnie Jackson admitted his AFC Wimbledon players felt the effects of their energy-sapping Carabao Cup defeat to Chelsea as they let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Newport.
James Tilley, who put the Dons ahead from the penalty spot at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday before the Premier League side recovered to win 2-1, added his sixth and seventh goals of the season to put Jackson’s men 2-0 up inside half an hour in the south Wales sun.
The former Crawley forward pinged his first in off the post from the edge of the area after nine minutes before doubling the Dons’ advantage with another piledriver from distance on 30 minutes.
But County’s top scorer Will Evans gave his side a lifeline with his eighth of the campaign in all competitions in first-half stoppage time.
And Omar Bogle bagged his first of the season on his first start in the league to level the match 10 minutes into the second half.
Tilley went closest to winning it in the closing stages but he was denied a hat-trick when Exiles goalkeeper Nick Townsend stuck out a hand to keep out his bullet header and earn his side a point.
“Obviously, to get ourselves in that situation in the game, we’re slightly disappointed,” said Jackson.
“But, on the balance of it, after the week we’ve had, I think it is a good point.
“We got two really good goals from Tills, and I’m a bit disappointed with the ones we conceded.
“For 35 minutes I thought we were outstanding, then you saw – mentally and physically – what Wednesday would have taken out of the team.
“But we rallied, which was pleasing. When they got level, their fans are expecting them to go on and win. But their keeper made the best save of the day from Tilley’s header.”
County manager Graham Coughlan felt his side were also paying the price for a gruelling penalty shoot-out loss to Brentford on Tuesday night.
“It was a really tough afternoon and I’ve got to take my hat off to Wimbledon as well,” said the Irishman.
“You could see that the four goals were down to the midweek exertions of two teams that went toe-to-toe with Premier League sides, then chuck a red-hot day on top as well.
“You could probably see the fatigue factor, the mental and physical tiredness that set into the players.
“Fair play to the two sets of players for what they produced off the back of a tough week that was draining and tiring.
“You could see on the hour mark that the energy levels just weren’t there, but I am proud of the lads.”
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