Morecambe 3 AFC Wimbledon 4: Injury-time strike sees the Shrimps beaten
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He struck in the fourth of five added minutes to settle what had been the proverbial game of two halves.
Morecambe were second best in the opening 45 minutes and trailed to Anthony Hartigan’s fifth minute goal at half-time.
However, an end-to-end second period saw Cole Stockton and Shane McLoughlin give the Shrimps the lead.
Ethan Chislett brought the visitors level before Stockton’s stunning strike put Morecambe ahead for the second time.
Will Nightingale then headed the Dons level again before Assal lashed home to give the visitors three points.
Morecambe boss Stephen Robinson made three changes from the Shrimps’ last game, their victory against Sheffield Wednesday a fortnight earlier.
Aaron Wildig, Ryan Delaney and Liam Gibson returned to the starting XI, though new arrival Ryan McLaughlin wasn’t named in the matchday squad.
There was also a change of formation with Delaney and Gibson forming part of a back three alongside new captain Anthony O’Connor.
He didn’t have the most auspicious of starts as skipper with a role in the visitors’ opener.
O’Connor scythed down Dapo Mebude just outside the area, between the corner of the area and the dead ball line.
The smart money looked to be on an inswinging free-kick to the far post, and though Hartigan did curl in the set piece, it was an effort that flew past Jokull Andresson.
It was a lead the visitors thoroughly deserved as they pressured the Shrimps into mistakes and broke at speed, aided by a Morecambe backline reluctant to close them down.
Alex Woodyard fired over from the edge of the box before Assal should have done better than turn Cheye Alexander’s cross over from close range.
In contrast, genuine chances were at a premium for the Shrimps as they huffed and puffed but lacked the final ball when they got into good areas.
The nearest they came in the opening 45 minutes was when Arthur Gnahoua ran at the Dons’ defence before seeing a shot pushed away by keeper Nik Tzanev.
It was the visitors who came closest to scoring again eight minutes before half-time when Henry Lawrence fired narrowly off target from 20 yards.
Andresson also denied Assal with half-time looming, after which Morecambe changed players and shape.
Gibson made way for Wes McDonald at the break with the Shrimps reverting back to their usual 4-3-3 shape.
It paid off inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half with two quickfire goals giving them the lead.
The equaliser came on 49 minutes when McDonald’s cross was blocked but Greg Leigh collected the loose ball and found Wildig.
He calmly found Stockton, who fired past Tzanev for his seventh goal of the season.
Five minutes later, they were in front as Gnahoua sent over a terrific cross and McLoughlin, who wasn’t tracked by any of his former team-mates, raced into the area to head home.
It was Wimbledon’s turn to play catch-up but they only needed six minutes to do so after levelling on the hour.
Morecambe failed to clear their lines and the ball dropped to Chislett, who finished clinically past Andresson.
That was an excellent strike but it was topped on 65 minutes when Stockton perhaps wrapped up the club’s goal of the season prize in mid-September.
The ball dropped to him 35 yards out and, after taking one touch, he spotted Tzanev off his line and fired over the keeper via the underside of the bar.
Again, though, Morecambe failed to hang onto their lead as the Dons drew level for a second time on 72 minutes.
Hartigan’s free-kick was allowed to drift to the far post, where Nightingale headed home to send the away fans wild and leave Robinson livid on the touchline.
It almost got worse for Morecambe with eight minutes left when they surrendered possession, allowing Assal into the area.
He was just about to pull the trigger when McDonald got back to block in the nick of time.
They were not to be so lucky, however, in added time when they failed to clear a corner and Assal lashed the ball past Andresson to settle matters.
Morecambe: Andresson, O’Connor, Delaney, Gibson (McDonald 46), Cooney, McLoughlin, Diagouraga, Wildig (McCalmont 76), Leigh, Gnahoua, Stockton. Subs not used: Letheren, Jones, McPake, Price, Wootton.
AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev, Alexander, Nightingale, Heneghan, Lawrence, Woodyard, Hartigan, Assal, Chislett (Marsh 82), Mebude (Guinness-Walker 75), Palmer (Pressley 82). Subs not used: Oualah, McCormick, Kalabayi.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge.
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