Luke Moore struck his first goal since August to earn a point for Wimbledon at Gigg Lane and reward the visitors for an improved second-half display this afternoon.
The attacking midfielder rifled home past Bury goalkeeper Brian Jensen to secure a 1-1 draw that extended Wimbledon’s unbeaten league run to three matches and provided something to shout about for the 387 Dons fans who made the trip. On the balance of play, it was a deserved point for Neal Ardley’s men as they showed a spirited response after falling behind to Danny Hylton’s first-half header.
Neal Ardley made just one enforced change to the side that started against Portsmouth with Luke Moore given the nod to replace Harry Pell. As expected, Andy Frampton shrugged off a shoulder knock to make it an unchanged back-line for the Dons.
It did not take long for Luke Moore to get involved as he latched onto a loose ball in the very first minute and struck a half volley wide. Wimbledon made a bright start at Gigg Lane and they were gifted a great chance to take the lead in the fourth minute. George Porter seized on a poor back pass and powered through, but he ran the ball too far with his first touch and was crowded out by Bury goalkeeper Brian Jensen.
Bury’s start summed up their recent poor run as they were very shaky at the back and handed the initiative to Wimbledon. Porter was quick to pounce on such uncertainty and the winger’s dazzling run left Dean Howell for dead, but Michael Smith’s header from his cross was cleared off the line by William Edjenguele. However, the hosts, who were plying their trade in League 1 last season, started to find their feet after those early let-offs and it needed Dons goalkeeper Ross Worner to pull off a fine finger-tip save to turn away Danny Hylton’s header.
However, the Dons were made to pay for switching off in the 35th minute. Former Aldershot striker Hylton, who is on loan from Rotherham, rose highest in the box from Howell’s cross and beat Worner with a looping header. It was a goal that never seemed on the cards as Bury had barely tested Worner prior to that moment, but perhaps Wimbledon had paid the price for not capitalising on the home side’s lack of confidence early on.
Wimbledon did have a decent spell just before the break with their best opportunity coming when Sammy Moore’s clever through ball picked out Luke Moore in space behind the Bury defence, but his delivery was blocked and the chance was gone.
The Dons yet again needed to come behind in the second-half, a situation they had successfully come through on so many occasions this season, and they could have been level within two minutes after the break. Captain Alan Bennett picked out Smith with a smart ball through ball and though the striker’s first touch was excellent, he perhaps should have done better with the finish as he powered his shot into the side-netting.
Just down the road from Wimbledon’s last away match at Rochdale, the Dons needed to seize the second-half initiative in the same manner as they had at Spotlands Stadium if they were to take anything away from Gigg Lane. They needed to do better though than Smith’s effort as he shot weakly into the hands of Jensen after being put through by Mohamed.
That was Mohamed’s last contribution as he made way for Jack Midson in the 64th minute. Less than a minute later and Wimbledon were level. Luke Moore, who had not scored since Wimbledon’s first home match against Wycombe Wanderers in August, showed great movement to pounce on Smith’s flick-on, before producing an emphatic finish that left Jensen with no chance.
It was now a completely different game as Wimbledon moved through the gears and one eye-catching move ended with Kennedy volleying across the face of goal from Sammy Moore’s pass, but the ball eluded everyone in the box. Smith, who led the line effectively throughout, then created a shooting opportunity for Kennedy, but his shot was high and wide.
With 15 minutes to go and Bury retreating into their own half, victory was perhaps up for grabs for Wimbledon. There was a scare for the Dons though when Alan Bennett’s clearance fell short and Danny Nardiello pounced, but Worner reacted well to save.
The introduction of Charlie Sheringham for Luke Moore five minutes from time suggested that Wimbledon were gunning for victory, but they had to settle for a creditable point in the end. It could have been even better if substitute Jim Fenlon's superb late effort had not sailed just wide, but the draw at least maintained Wimbledon's recent improvement.
AFC Wimbledon: Ross Worner, Barry Fuller, Callum Kennedy, Peter Sweeney, Andy Frampton, Alan Bennett, Sammy Moore, Michael Smith, Luke Moore (Charlie Sheringham), George Porter (Jim Fenlon), Kaid Mohamed (Jack Midson).