Clean sheet in draw at unbeaten Northampton
AFC Wimbledon picked up their first point in Sky Bet League One and kept a clean sheet in a scrappy, goalless draw with unbeaten Northampton Town at Sixfields Stadium.
Neal Ardley (pictured) made one change to the line-up from the 2-1 defeat to Scunthorpe United on Tuesday, with Tom Elliott partnering Lyle Taylor up front again and Tyrone Barnett reverting to a place on the substitute’s bench.
The Dons took the game to the hosts inside the first five minutes in blustery conditions, but John-Joe O’Toole put a header over Ryan Clarke’s crossbar after seven minutes as an early response. Kenji Gorre forced his way into the box and produced a superb save from former Cobblers 'keeper Clarke three minutes later as the hosts asserted themselves on home territory. That would be the best effort of the first half. Left-back Sean Kelly had to time a Dons challenge on the edge of the box five minutes later.
Wimbledon tried to create opportunities down the flanks through Chris Whelpdale and Andy Barcham, but were met with steely resistance by the Cobblers. Kelly again came under more pressure as Zander Diamond looked for another penalty for Northampton just after the halfway mark of the first half.
With just under ten minutes to go before the break play had become untidy in difficult conditions, but Elliott forced Northampton goalkeeper Adam Smith to tip over for a corner. With half-time looming, Jake Reeves had a succession of corners for Wimbledon as they tried to force the opening goal. Tom Elliott headed a Dons effort wide from a cross, but the game was far from the superb contest between the two sides last March.
Innovative work by Lyle Taylor for Wimbledon down the left side resulted in a decent cross three minutes into the second half, in front of 424 travelling supporters. Elliott then forced Smith to save at close range. Taylor then struck a powerful shot on target after 53 minutes as the Dons made a positive start to the second period, but the weather again played a major part in proceedings in an unattractive game.
Taylor was fouled by the Cobblers Gabriel Zakuani midway through the half, but his free kick from outside the box came to nothing. Elliott flashed a shot wide of the Northampton upright with nineteen minutes to go.
Neal Ardley attempted to freshen it up, up front, by switching the strike force with just under a quarter of an hour to go as Tyrone Barnett and Dominic Poleon replaced Taylor and Elliott. As the game petered out though, Wimbledon threatened to take all three points at the death with a towering header from Kelly coming off the crossbar and a chance for Matt Taylor down the other end. In the end though both sides again had to settle for a point.
AFC Wimbledon Ryan Clarke, Barry Fuller, Darius Charles, Paul Robinson, Sean Kelly, Chris Whelpdale, Jake Reeves, Dannie Bulman, Andy Barcham, Lyle Taylor (Dominic Poleon), Tom Elliott (Tyrone Barnett).