Wimbledon came up just short in their attempt to beat another of the promotion contenders tonight, but it was a much-improved performance after defeat at Wycombe.
A 0-0 draw meant that it was a frustrating night for the Dons with Matt Tubbs, Bayo Akinfenwa and George Francomb all coming close to breaking the deadlock. However, Neal Ardley’s men are still well placed as they are just three points behind the play-off places.
Neal Ardley unsurprisingly decided to bring Dannie Bulman straight back into his starting line-up after he missed the Wycombe defeat due to suspension with Jake Nicholson back on the bench. One other change was made by the Wimbledon manager with Andy Frampton making his first league start of the season in place of captain Alan Bennett.
A scrappy start to this game came to life in the 15thminute when Bulman’s pass sent Matt Tubbs marching clear of the defence, but his finish was tipped around the post by Plymouth goalkeeper Luke McCormick. Wimbledon came even closer from the subsequent corner when Adam Barrett rose highest in the box, but his header was cleared off the line by Anthony O’Connor. It was certainly a good spell for the hosts and George Francomb fizzed over a teasing delivery that just evaded Tubbs and Bayo Akinfenwa in the box.
However, the Dons did not have it all their own way in the first half hour as Plymouth provided moments of encouragement for their 882 travelling supporters. A decent Plymouth move ended with O’Connor firing just wide and then James Shea had to be alert to turn away Bobby Reid’s effort. Though Wimbledon perhaps shaded the first-half in terms of possession and chances, neither side had taken a grip on the game and Plymouth offered plenty of threat on the break. One fine move from the visitors almost caught Wimbledon out, but Barrett produced a superb interception to deny Bobby Reid again.
Wimbledon should really have gone in at half-time 1-0 up after they squandered the best chance of the first-half just before the break. Akinfenwa produced lovely hold-up play and then put Francomb clean through, but he found the side netting when it appeared certain that he would score.
Plymouth started the second-half in determined mood to make something happen and they pressed the hosts back. However, Wimbledon remained resolute in defence and their front two carried a constant threat to the visitors. In particular, this was shown when a long ball had Plymouth struggling to cope with Akinfenwa and his header found Tubbs racing clear. Though Tubbs was sent sprawling just outside the area, the referee deemed that Curtis Nelson’s challenge was only worthy of a yellow card as there was a covering defender. Wimbledon then put together a fine move down the left involving Sean Rigg and Jack Smith, but the latter’s cross was diverted just wide by Tubbs.
Though Wimbledon started to gain a greater share of possession than their opponents around the hour mark, they were unable to exert sustained pressure against a solid League 2 side. However, Wimbledon almost fashioned a goal out of nothing 19 minutes from time when Akinfenwa met a long ball with a thumping header, but it bounced off the top of the crossbar.
The Dons started to really pen Plymouth back during the last 15 minutes, but the visitors defended doggedly. Akinfenwa was at the heart of Wimbledon’s best attacking moves and his attempted overhead kick from a Sean Rigg cross created a half chance for Tubbs, but he shot over the crossbar. There was to be no late winner for Wimbledon and they will be aiming to get back to winning ways at home to Tranmere on Saturday.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Jack Smith, Sammy Moore, Adam Barrett, Andy Frampton, Sean Rigg, Dannie Bulman, Bayo Akinfenwa, Matt Tubbs, George Francomb.