Glyn Hodges described AFC Wimbledon’s performance as their worst of the season after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Doncaster on their emotional return to Plough Lane.
Twenty nine years after the Dons left the original Plough Lane, Joe Pigott scored the historic opening goal in their first game back at the new stadium in the 18th minute to give the hosts the lead.
Doncaster equalised just six minutes later through Matt Smith, but Pigott’s second goal after 83 minutes put Wimbledon on course for a fairytale win, only for James Coppinger to spoil a famous night for for the home side with a deflected shot in time added on.
Hodges admitted the occasion got the better of some of his players.
“Great result but the performance wasn’t very good,” he said. “It was our worst performance of the season and we did well to get a point out of it.
“Our goals were real quality and to get something out of it was important.
“They had their chances and kept the ball really well and to get that second goal I thought, ‘Here we go’, but it sadly wasn’t to be.
“We said ‘just stay calm and play your football’ but the occasion effects everybody differently and some coped better than others, I felt, but we’ve come away with a point and hopefully more to come.
“The preparation was different tonight and we knew there was something a little different about it. When we settle down this will be a great place to play.
“We’ve had our first game and there will be a big party when the fans come back in.”
The visitors almost took the lead themselves before Pigott’s second goal when Ben Whiteman headed straight at Connal Trueman in the 71st minute.
And Doncaster manager Darren Moore said it felt like two points dropped rather than one gained.
“I thought we set our stall out to try and come here and dominate the game and to come away with maximum points, but credit to Wimbledon they made it very difficult for us,” he said.
“They blocked shots and put bodies on the line and stayed in the game.
“When you go 2-1 down you fear the worst and suddenly when you came to get three points and you could end up losing all three points. Credit to our players to get back in the game.
“We definitely should have won the game so it’s two points dropped. We had 20 attempts on goal and I think nearly 60 per cent possession and came and dominated.
“Obviously we conceded a late goal. I’m disappointed with the two goals conceded, very disappointed with that, and we’ll get back to the drawing board.”