A late header from Bayo Akinfenwa extended AFC Wimbledon’s unbeaten away league record – and rewarded the 593 travelling Dons supporters at Huish Park.
Despite dominating for large spells, it appeared that the Dons were heading to defeat against lowly Yeovil, but Akinfenwa struck 11 minutes from time to earn a 1-1 draw. It was a third successive draw on the road for Wimbledon and it was the least the Dons deserved on the day.
Neal Ardley made just two changes to his starting line-up after a good performance at Mansfield last Saturday. Will Nightingale was offered the opportunity at centre-back to build on his fine display as a substitute at Mansfield as he replaced Karleigh Osborne, who had to settle for a place on the bench. Fit-again Andy Barcham came straight back in from the start as he was preferred to Sean Rigg. It was a young substitutes’ bench once again as Ryan Sweeney and Egli Kaja were both involved and Tom Beere was back in the squad after recovering from injury.
The Dons made a swift start at Huish Park by testing Yeovil goalkeeper Artur Krysiak inside a minute. Tom Elliott caused havoc in the home defence and Jake Reeves picked up the loose ball before releasing George Francomb, but his effort was well saved. Krysiak was a busy man in the opening stages and he had to make another save to deny Elliott. Elliott was at the heart of Wimbledon’s best attacking moves and he set-up Reeves for a sight on goal, but the midfielder never got enough on his shot and Krysiak gathered.
Following an opening 15 minutes when the Dons had quietened a passionate home crowd, Yeovil gradually came into it and they threatened when towering target man Omar Sowunmi shot across the face of goal. However, there was no reprieve for Wimbledon in the 26th minute as Yeovil caught out the Dons from a long throw-in. Sowumni rose highest in the box to flick-on and Ryan Bird reacted first to steer home from close range.
Though Wimbledon struggled initially to regain their composure, it was so nearly 1-1 on the half hour. Francomb fired over a clever corner kick to the near post and Barcham struck an effort that was deflected past Krysiak, but the Yeovil goalkeeper managed to get back and save. There was a rather unusual delay with five minutes left of the first-half as referee Lee Swabey had to go off injured and one of his assistants Adam Hopkins took over duties.
Wimbledon came so close to an equaliser on the stroke of half-time after brilliant play from Jake Reeves. The midfielder jinked inside with a lovely piece of individual skill and his shot was good too, but the ball bounced off the inside of a post and away to safety.
With five shots on target in the first-half and plenty of impressive attacking moves, Wimbledon could count themselves as unfortunate to be behind when the half-time whistle shrilled.
There had been nothing wrong with Wimbledon’s first-half performance going forward and Neal Ardley decided to keep the same 11 for the second-half. There was a setback for Yeovil shortly into the second half when Sowunmi had to be taken off after a clash with Nightingale, Mark Beck the man to replace him.
AFC Wimbledon were shooting towards their own fans in the second-half with 593 Dons making the trip to Huish Park and they so nearly had a goal to celebrate 10 minutes after the break. Francomb swung in a corner that Paul Robinson met with a towering header, but the ball thudded off the crossbar. With the ball starting to stick up front as Bayo Akinfenwa came into the game, Wimbledon controlled possession. However, it was never going to be easy to break down a Yeovil side now defending in numbers and desperate to earn a first home win this season.
Dannie Bulman almost found the key to the door when he put through a fine ball that Elliott reached before Krysiak, but he was unable to keep it in play. That ended up being Elliott’s last contribution of the day as he was replaced by Ade Azeez. It was not long before Azeez made a positive impression as he set-up Reeves inside the area, but he shot well over from an acute angle. There was another change from the Dons shortly afterwards with Sean Rigg replacing Barcham on the left flank.
With 15 minutes to play, the Dons were struggling to create decent chances as Yeovil defended resolutely. It was starting to look like Yeovil would hang on for a victory they barely deserved, but Akinfenwa had other ideas 11 minutes from time. Francomb swung over another fine delivery from a corner and Akinfenwa used his strength to get in front of his marker and head home from close range.
The Dons could have won it in the final stages, which included seven minutes of injury-time. First, Azeez fired over after more good work from Reeves and then Bulman was just unable to force the ball home after Azeez had turned provider. Azeez also fired just wide with almost the last kick of the game. Wimbledon just came up short in pursuit of a winner, but it was a draw that at least extended their unbeaten league run to four matches.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Jon Meades, Paul Robinson, Will Nightingale, Andy Barcham (Sean Rigg), George Francomb, Dannie Bulman, Jake Reeves, Bayo Akinfenwa, Tom Elliott (Ade Azeez).