Wimbledon 2-2 Tranmere: Wimbledon Rocked By France Again

Armand Gnanduillet twice rescued Tranmere as a valuable point in South London saw them move off the bottom of the Football League in a 2-2 draw with Wimbledon.

The result extends Rovers’ winless run to ten games, but there were plenty of positives to take as they showed a new found resilience and potency in front of goal, something that has been so clearly missed in recent weeks.

For Gnanduillet, he was the second French person to shock Wimbledon just sixteen months after France triumphed at SW19 through Marion Bartoli in the Ladies’ Singles Championships.

But in the different surroundings of the Cherry Red Records Stadium, on-loan hit-man Gnanduillet played a starring role as Micky Adams continued his unbeaten start at Prenton Park.

With Jason Koumas injured for a fortnight due to a groin problem, Adams named an unchanged line up from the side that drew 0-0 with Mansfield on Tuesday.

That meant new signing Josh Thompson, who joined from Colchester on Friday, had to make do with a place on the bench, whilst there was a welcome return for Liam Ridehalgh who was also named amongst the substitutes.

The full-back, valued as much for versatility as his ability, has missed the start of the season after picking up an ankle problem in the summer.

The hosts started the game on the front foot, with Rovers struggling to get out of their own half.

Beastly front-man Adebayo Akinfenwa was always going to be a handful for the visitors, after scoring seven goals in his last eight games – precisely five more than Tranmere had managed over the same period.

And he had two early chances, sending one header just wide and firing a volley over the bar.

But the Dons opener came from a somewhat unexpected source, as full-back Jack Smith netted only his third goal in five years.

Whether he meant it or not, Owain fon Williams will be seriously disappointed with the manner of the strike, as Smith, receiving the ball at a tight angle in the box, chipped the ball over the Rovers stopper and into the net.

In recent weeks, that would have been enough to kill Tranmere off, but after 535 minutes of football, loanee Armand Gnanduillet finally broke a goal drought that extended back to September 20th.

It was a somewhat fortuitous strike, but brought about by some brilliant build up play, as the French striker turned wonderfully before hitting a tame, bobbling shot into the bottom corner from 25-yards.

At 1-1 and all to play for, the game begun to settle down, with defender Adam Barrett sending a header round the post for the hosts, whilst Gnanduillet and Michael Ihiekwe fired off target for Micky Adams’ side.

But with half-time fast approaching, the Dons re-took the lead, and this time it was Akinfenwa who found the net.

Famed for his strength and size in the lower leagues, the former Gillingham man is used to winning aerial duels.

And with 44-minutes on the clock, another went his way as the striker rose highest at the back post to guide a header into the corner of the net.

Micky Adams tried to shake things up through good use of his bench after the break, throwing a third man up front at the expense of a defender in the shape of Kayode Odejayi.

The switch meant Danny Holmes was pushed up to right-midfield, and he saw one shot deflected wide for a corner before Odejayi fired straight at the ‘keeper from 18-yards.

And all those changes paid off on 66-minutes as Gnanduillet grabbed his second of the afternoon with a towering header.

Rovers had been pressing and from Max Power’s corner, the striker, who had not scored in 13 games this season, leapt highest to nod home a powerful header.

Tranmere now had the momentum and went in search of a valuable winner.

Danny Holmes was enjoying himself on the right, finding plenty of time and space to put crosses into the box, whilst Odejayi was creating havoc in the middle.

The game became stretched as both teams piled forward, but that killer ball was always lacking.

The Dons came closest when substitute Adebayo Azeez rushed on to Akinfenwa’s ball, only to be foiled by fon Williams who was quickly off his line to block, whilst at the other end George Donnelly volleyed over.

The final chance meanwhile came to the hosts, but a stunning last-ditch tackle from Michael Ihiekwe prevented Azeez again from having a goalscoring opportunity.

The game therefore finished all square, but Micky Adams will have been delighted at not only the impact his substitutes, but also the resilience Rovers showed to come from behind.

And with Hartlepool losing at Cambridge, Rovers jumped into 23rd place in League Two, meaning the table makes slightly better reading.

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