AFC Wimbledon 3-3 Rochdale: Pigott scores at the death to break Rochdale hearts in six-goal thriller 
(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Jake Beesley threatened to end AFC Wimbledon's five game unbeaten streak in the first half, when he put the visitors ahead with a tap in from close range.

Gabriel Osho doubled Dale’s lead in the early stages of the second half, planting a header past Nik Tzanev to give the visitors hope they could claw themselves away from the depths of League One relegation. 

But Mark Robinson’s side fought back and quickly completed a five minute turnaround.

The catalyst for the fightback was when Jack Rudoni met a Joe Pigott cross, directing a powerful header past Jay Lynch and cutting the deficit to one goal. 

The comeback was complete when Ollie Palmer tapped in from close range to bring the game level.

But Dale refused to relinquish their resilience.

Jimmy Keohane attacked a Matt Done corner to give the visitors back their goal advantage heading into the final 20 minutes.

Joe Pigott was handed the chance to bring the Dons level when Ollie Palmer was brought down in the box. However, Jay Lynch became the hero, guessing the right way and pushing the ball away from danger.

But Pigott refused to let the miss define his game. 

Cheye Alexander's cross landed at the feet of Pigott. He smashed an emphatic half volley out of Lynch's reach to give Mark Robinson’s side the all-important point they needed in their search for League One survival.

The match

The first chance fell to Nesta Guinness-Walker, however, from the edge of the box, he dragged his effort wide. 

Rochdale were next to bite back, but Gabriel Osho failed to direct his header towards goal from an Oliver Rathbone free kick. 

Ayoub Assal was next to try his luck, but his header from a Joe Pigott cross sailed over the crossbar.

The Dons started to shake off the nerves and attacked with some real verve.  

Guinness-Walker and Jack Rudoni linked up well down the left, with the left-back lashing a venomous cross along the face of goal – however, neither Joe Pigott nor Ollie Palmer gambled at the back post. 

The Dons were incensed with rage minutes later. As Alex Woodyard’s clip back into the box looked to have brushed the arm of Eoghan O'Connell, but referee, Carl Brook, waved play on. 

The Dons continued to mount pressure. This time it was Joe Pigott to head over from a Luke O’Neil corner; Mark Robinson’s side were gaining confidence. 

But it was the visitors who nearly took the lead on the 35th minute. 

After a superb block from Will Nightingale to deny Matt Done inside the area, Jimmy Keohane picked up the loose ball and curled a right-footed shot that whistled past Nik Tzanev’s post.

Taking confidence from their surge in attacking prowess, Rochdale pushed forward in search of the opening goal. 

A scramble in the Wimbledon area, forced the first corner for the away side.

Done whipped the ball into the box, it bounced over the bewildered Tzanev and fell at the feet of Jake Beesley, who tapped home his 7th of the season from two yards out.

Embed from Getty Images

Moments later, it was the turn of the Rochdale bench to be furious with Carl Brook. 

Jake Beesley wriggled his way into the box and went down under pressure from Ben Heneghan, but the referee waved play on, feeling there was minimal pressure on the man who just opened the scoring. 

Following a half time team talk from Mark Robinson, The Dons came out firing for the second half. 

Luke O’Neil whipped in a dangerous cross which swirled and switched in the south London wind, cannoning off Jay Lynch’s crossbar - and Guinness–Walker continued to cause havoc down the left flank. 

But it would be the visitors who extended their lead on the 56th minute.  

Another corner created confusion in the Dons’ penalty area, allowing Gabriel Osho to drift in-between the Wimbledon defence and plant a header into the bottom left-hand corner past the helpless Tzanev. 

But Mark Robinson’s side's ‘never say die’ attitude came into full effect on the 61st minute.

Joe Pigott picked up the ball on the right, drove past Jimmy Keohane and clipped a ball into the box.

Waiting, was Jack Rudoni, who planted a header past Lynch to bring the home side back into the game.

Embed from Getty Images

The comeback was complete four minutes later. 

Luke O’Neil once again whipped in a tantalising cross.

As the ball hung in the air, Lynch came to collect and was bundled over in the process. The ball dropped to Ollie Palmer, who tapped home the second to bring the home side level. 

With the wind in the Dons’ sails, they were expected to kill the game off with 20 minutes left.

But Rochdale’s resilience refused to relinquish. 

Another corner whipped in by Done allowed Jimmy Keohane to attack the near post and sweep a header past Tzanev to send the away bench into pandemonium. 

Ryan Longman nearly brought the game back level instantly, but he was denied by a breathtaking save from Jay Lynch, who rushed out from his goal to smother the ball at Longman’s feet. 

Wimbledon were then handed a lifeline to equalise when Ollie Palmer was scythed down in the box by Jay Lynch. 

Pigott, who missed a penalty against Ipswich on Saturday, stepped up to take.  

Lynch guessed right, pushing away Pigott’s spot kick to ensure the side fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table came away with all three points.

But Pigott refused to give in. Cheye Alexander whipped in a cross to the edge of the box. With a first time effort, Pigott swung an emphatic half volley out of the reach of Lynch; capping off an end-to-end encounter.

Embed from Getty Images

Rochdale stay 22nd in the League One table, four points behind Wigan Athletic and safety. 

As for Mark Robinson’s side, they have built a six point gap between themselves and the drop zone, with only goal difference their potential downfall.