FOOTBALL: SKY Blues boss Russell Slade was left lamenting another late goal after watching his struggling side throw away three valuable points in their fight to retain their League One status.
It looked as though Slade was on course to pick up his first league win since taking over the reigns from Mark Venus back in December after substitute Jodi Jones fired the visitors into a 71st minute lead at AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday evening.
But for a fourth time under Slade, the Sky Blues conceded deep into injury-time when Paul Robinson rescued a point for the hosts and denied the visitors three much-needed points in their battle to beat the drop.
“We have to see a game out with 15 seconds to go,” said Slade. “We’re seconds away from the win.
“Things go against you when you’re struggling at the root of the table, it has landed at a blue shirt. I still think it is a fine line, seconds away from three points. But we’re making it incredibly difficult for ourselves.
“Wins, it has to be wins. Two points we’ve lost tonight, two against Peterborough and Bolton and they tot up. I thought Clarke was immense at the back, we protected the goal well, we nullified them, but we didn’t get the win we needed.”
Having lost out to Oldham on Saturday, the Sky Blues were in desperate need of three points in their bid to climb out of the drop zone.
After a fairly even opening to the match, George Thomas had the first real chance of the match when he burst past his man before shooting at goal but James Shea made a smart save to claw the ball away from danger.
At the other end Lee Burge was tested for the first time with 25 minutes on the clock. Tom Soares unleashed a powerful shot which Burge was able to tip over the bar and Paul Robinson headed wide from the resultant corner.
Burge had to be alert to keep out George Francomb’s dangerous free kick as the hosts stepped up their search for the opener towards the end of the first half but Slade’s side weathered the storm and the sides went in level at the break.
Chances were few and far between in the second period and Slade introduced recent signing Yakubu in a bid to force a breakthrough.
Instead it was his other substitute, Jodi Jones, who broke the deadlock just minutes after being introduced. The 19-year-old cut in from the right and on his favoured left foot he drove the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the net to the joy of the visiting support.
Wimbledon piled on the pressure in the remaining minutes of the match and just when it looked as though the visitors would claim a first league win since the start of November, Robinson popped up in the fifth minute of injury-time to fire home an equaliser from close range.
“There was a response,” Slade added. “I was a difficult surface against a strong, direct side. I went big and strong at the back, in an effort to match them.
“Whether it was a game for Jodi from the start I don’t know, the tightness of the game makes it difficult, but when it opens up, a bit more space, he can make a big impact.
“We’re seconds from a clean sheet. We have to pick ourselves up again, this is the third time it has happened on my shift.
“Stuart Beavon and Jordan Willis, we’re hopeful are going to be available. We saw flashes from Yakubu, linking up. He will be difficult for the opposition to handle at times.”