Wimbledon had to settle for a point today against a Bolton side that belied their bottom of the table position.
In a game of few chances, Bolton provided stubborn resistance with former Dons loanee Ryan Delaney at the heart of their defence and the match ended 0-0. Substitute Adam Roscrow helped Wimbledon to finish the match attacking for a winner, but a late goal proved to be elusive. Despite the disappointment of missing out on victory, this draw did make it three league matches unbeaten after the heavy loss at Oxford United.
Glyn Hodges had hinted in the build-up to this match that he would stick with the same side that earned such an impressive victory at Gillingham and that’s the way it turned out as he selected an unchanged squad. Wimbledon came into this game in buoyant mood after that last-gasp win and a home match against a side currently propping up League One offered an opportunity to stretch the points advantage over the bottom three. However, Bolton had shown in recent weeks that they are no pushovers and they came into this match having drawn against Accrington Stanley.
Wimbledon started this match by threatening to make the breakthrough inside a minute. Joe Pigott was almost rewarded for pressing Bolton keeper Remi Matthews when he charged down the keeper’s clearance and the ball flashed just wide after rebounding off the Wimbledon striker. That didn’t act as a springboard for sustained home pressure though as Bolton attempted to fashion opportunities of their own. No clear-cut opportunities ensued, but they did offer moments of threat. Dennis Politic did well to get into the box, but his low cross was just cut out by Luke O'Neill, before Daryl Murphy failed to make the most of a chance after a corner by Ali Crawford had been half cleared. Crawford also shot just wide, as Bolton exerted a bit of pressure.
Following a slow start, the hosts started to get a grip on the game by the midway point of the first-half. Good positive play by Callum Reilly down the left earned a corner for Wimbledon. The set-piece was cleared, but in the next phase of the attack the ball fell nicely for Nesta Guinness-Walker and his shot was too close to Matthews. O’Neill also headed just wide with a powerful header after getting on the end of a well delivered corner by Callum Reilly.
Wimbledon had improved as the first-half wore on, but Bolton had a good chance to take the lead in the final minute of the half. Daryl Murphy went through on goal, but Dons keeper Joe Day did very well to spread himself and save, before the ball was scrambled clear. It had been a first-half of little goalmouth action and neither side really deserved to be ahead when the half-time whistle sounded. Wimbledon had shown fleeting spells of threat, without being able to put together a sustained spell of pressure.
Bolton wasted little time at the start of the second-half in attempting to beat Joe Day. A shot straight from the kick-off was attempted by Ali Crawford, but his attempt from the halfway line failed to trouble Day in the Wimbledon goal. Bolton certainly established plenty of possession in the first 10 minutes of the second-half, though Day was untested during that spell. As we progressed towards the hour mark, Wimbledon showed positive signs of making the all-important breakthrough. Scott Wagstaff had a goal-bound shot deflected just wide and the hosts forced a succession of corners that eventually yielded no return. The Dons did appear to have broken the deadlock when Appiah headed home after getting on the end of a flick-on by Terell Thomas, but the flag was up for offside.
Glyn Hodges made his first change in the 65th minute with Adam Roscrow replacing Kwesi Appiah. The Welsh striker, who has shown up well as a substitute in recent matches, was straight into the thick of the action, running the channels effectively as he attempted to use his pace to get in behind. Wimbledon put together a fine move with 10 minutes remaining that ended with O’Neill setting up Reilly, but his goal-bound shot was blocked. Roscrow then had a decent opening on the edge of the area, but he dragged his shot wide. The same player then had an opportunity at the back post, but he was unable to get enough on his header.
The Dons pressed for a late winner, but Bolton dug in to repel the hosts. The closest Wimbledon came was when Terell Thomas headed wide from a corner, but it just wasn't to be and the draw leaves Wimbledon with work to do to steer clear of the League One drop zone.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe Day, Luke O’Neill, Terell Thomas, Scott Wagstaff, Anthony Hartigan, Kwesi Appiah (Adam Roscrow), Nesta Guinness-Walker, Shane McLoughlin, Mads Sorensen, Callum Reilly (Jack Rudoni), Joe Pigott.