AFC Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley says the crucial point of Thursday night's League Two draw with Port Vale came in the 44th minute.

Having watched his charges go 2-0 ahead against the League leaders at Kingsmeadow, Ardley had to suffer the disappointment of a long-range Vale strike on the cusp of half-time. 

After the break, Mat Mitchel-King's sloppy back-pass gifted Tom Pope the equaliser, and the Dons had to hang on for a point in the face of a Vale barrage.

"It was good to keep our momentum going in terms of being unbeaten, although we do need more wins," Ardley said.

"But the Vale goal before the break was the crucial one. I am not going to lay blame on Neil [Sullivan] for that, it came through a crowd and the lad has caught it sweetly.

"Had we got in at half-time still 2-0 up, things could have been very different.

"The second goal was one of those things that happens in football, Mat did not mean to do it. He dusted himself down and defended for his life afterwards.

"We'll all rally round him, we make our successes together and we make our mistakes together."

He added: "A draw is hard to take when you're 2-0 up, but Micky [Adams] has put together a great team and they do what they do very well.

"I know some of the fans behind me were getting frustrated towards the end, but we had to bring Jonathan Meades off because he was feeling dizzy, and suddenly they had about four players a lot taller than us who they were piling forward.

"We had to bring everyone back behind the ball to defend for their lives - if we had gambled and left a couple of players up, we have less bodies in the box and we lose the game."

The Dons host Burton Albion on February 2.