Seventeen-year-old Toby Sibbick helped AFC Wimbledon to a clean sheet on his debut, but the Dons had to settle for a home draw against Peterborough.
Sibbick’s step-up from the academy was a big positive to take on a day when Wimbledon just came up short in pursuit of a late winner, the match ending 0-0.
Paul Robinson's header came tantalisingly close in the latter stages, but it was not to be for Wimbledon with Neal Ardley's men shading the second-half after withstanding Peterborough pressure at the start.
Neal Ardley made two changes to his starting-line-up after the 0-0 draw at Swindon Town and one of those was particularly significant as it involved a first-team debut for 17-year-old Toby Sibbick. Andy Barcham was also restored to the side with Jon Meades and Dannie Bulman the men to make way. Following his impressive display at Swindon, Joe McDonnell retained his place between the sticks with James Shea given more time to completely recover from illness.
Peterborough made the quicker start and there was a goal attempt inside four minutes when Marcus Maddison tried his luck with a long-range free-kick, but the ball landed on top of the net. The visitors seemed to target young right-back Sibbick early on, but one fine interception from the academy product showed that he was far from out of place. At the other end, Barcham was once again the catalyst for Wimbledon forward momentum. The winger showed a clean pair of heels to Peterborough full-back Michael Smith, before whipping in a cross that almost picked out Tyrone Barnett. From the subsequent corner, Peterborough only half cleared, but Lyle Taylor completely miskicked.
As we approached the half hour mark, there had been little in the way of goalmouth incident, but Peterborough had come close through Tom Nichols, who cut inside from the left and unleashed a drive that was deflected just wide by Darius Charles. McDonnell had to show all of his handling qualities to hold onto a fierce long-range drive from Maddison, who had tried his luck at the second attempt after his free-kick bounced off the wall. Though Peterborough had the better of it in the first half hour, there had only been fleeting moments of danger with Wimbledon coping well with what had been thrown at them.
The Dons really started to get going during the 10-minute spell before half-time with Peterborough penned back towards their own goal. Taylor twice showed good movement to make space down the left, before delivering crosses that could have earned the ultimate reward. First, his searching cross was met by Barnett, but his header was too close to Peterborough keeper Luke McGee. Then Wimbledon came even closer when Francomb met another fine Taylor delivery at the back post, but his header bounced off the outside of a post.
Wimbledon started the second-half on the front foot with a searching cross from Francomb finding Barnett in space in the area, but his header was straight at the keeper. However, creating chances was proving tough against a well-drilled Peterborough defence. Taylor continued to pick-up good positions on the left and he showed lovely skill to beat his marker, before delivering a good cross, but no one was able to get on the end of it. Just after the hour, Taylor shot into the side netting from an acute angle.
With 20 minutes to go, neither side had really created a meaningful chance in the second-half. A lovely ball through the middle from Francomb threatened to do that, but Taylor was ruled offside as he attempted to go through on goal. Neal Ardley made his first change with 19 minutes to go as Dominic Poleon was introduced for Barnett. Wimbledon needed Joe McDonnell to stay alert as he did well to gather a well struck shot from Leonardo Da Silva Lopes. Shortly afterwards, the same player drove across the face of goal, but no one in a Peterborough shirt was there to apply a finish.
In the last 15 minutes, Wimbledon made two more changes with Dean Parrett and Dannie Bulman introduced for Barcham and Francomb. Those changes did result in a little attacking momentum and Wimbledon had their best chance of the second-half five minutes from time. Poleon did well to win a corner and the cross was delivered superbly by Parrett, but Paul Robinson headed agonisingly just over the crossbar. That was Wimbledon’s final chance of the game as neither side really threatened to win it after that. With Tom Soares going off injured and all three Wimbledon substitutes utilised, the Dons finished with 10 men, but Peterborough didn’t have enough about them to make it count and it ended 0-0.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Toby Sibbick, Sean Kelly, Paul Robinson, Darius Charles, George Francomb (Dannie Bulman), Tom Soares, Jake Reeves, Andy Barcham (Dean Parrett), Tyrone Barnett (Dominic Poleon), Lyle Taylor.