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Dons dig in for a point

22 November 2016

Neal Ardley's men secure draw at Millwall

AFC Wimbledon rewarded a great travelling support at Millwall tonight by digging in for a hard-fought point at The Den.

Reduced to 10 men 17 minutes from time when Jon Meades was sent off for a second booking, 1,164 Dons watched Neal Ardley’s men stretch their unbeaten away league run to nine matches with a 0-0 draw.

A stubborn defensive display, led by former Millwall man Paul Robinson, left the majority of the 8,614 crowd deeply frustrated.

Neal Ardley made three changes from the side that started against Bury with one of those enforced due to a suspension for Dean Parrett. His place was taken by Dannie Bulman with Jon Meades and Lyle Taylor also returning for Seth Owens and Chris Whelpdale respectively.

Cheered on by a noisy travelling support, Wimbledon grabbed the early initiative by establishing good possession. Chances for either side were few and far between though in the first 20 minutes as the two teams jostled for supremacy. A good early sign for Wimbledon was Tom Elliott showing typical aerial prowess to flick a header on for Taylor, who fired against a post, but the offside flag was up. Chris Robertson also had a shooting chance just inside the area after a cross was only half cleared, but he shot over the crossbar.

Millwall did come into it as we approached the midway point of the first-half and James Shea was forced to make a decent save at his near post when he reacted well to palm away a shot from an acute angle by Shane Ferguson. Pressure started to build with Millwall earning a succession of corners, but Wimbledon’s defence held firm with Shea also confidently taking dangerous crosses. Minutes later, it needed Paul Robinson to come to the rescue against his old club as he reacted sharply to clear a fierce cross from Ferguson. Shaun Williams also blazed over the crossbar a few minutes before half-time.

With Wimbledon having struggled to build on a promising start, 0-0 at half-time could be viewed as a decent score for the Dons. However, Taylor did have a half chance after he got on the end of a flick from Robinson, but he volleyed over from an acute angle. When the half-time whistle did sound, Wimbledon could at least be satisfied with a solid defensive display so far, Millwall’s home support showing their frustration at times.

The second-half started with Wimbledon showing a bit more ambition, but without being able to create any chances. At the other end, Shea reacted well to tip a free-kick from David Worrall just wide of his near post. Around the hour mark, Wimbledon started to look more dangerous as they played towards their travelling support. Poleon showed his trademark pace with a lung-bursting 50-yard run down the right, but his cross was behind Taylor. Then Elliott created more havoc in the Millwall defence to allow Taylor a shooting chance, but it was blocked.

With 63 minutes on the clock, Neal Ardley made his first change with Chris Whelpdale introduced for Taylor. As the game became stretched, Millwall found themselves with men over in the box, but James Shea was grateful that Ben Thompson’s shot was straight at him. There was then the rare sight of Barry Fuller trying his luck from 30 yards out and it was a good effort too, but Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer reacted well to save and Whepdale just failed to reach the follow-up.

Seth Owens entered the fray to fill the gap at left-back with Poleon the man to make way as Wimbledon now attempted to hold on for a point. There was a key incident 17 minutes from time with Meades adjudged to have held back Millwall substitute Fred Onyedinma and he was given a second yellow card. Shortly afterwards, the hosts had arguably the best chance so far when Robertson’s header fell short.

Far from stifling Wimbledon, the 10 men showed a steely resolve and substitute Tom Beere’s midfield play helped keep possession at a vital time. Beere even attempted to conjure up a late winner, but his well struck shot was too close to Archer. Though Millwall piled forward, Wimbledon repelled their attacks well and a point was well deserved for showing plenty of character in the circumstances.

AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Jon Meades, Dannie Bulman, Paul Robinson, George Francomb (Tom Beere), Jake Reeves, Tom Elliott, Dominic Poleon (Seth Owens), Lyle Taylor (Chris Whelpdale), Chris Robertson.

Pic credit: Stuart Butcher, Pro Sports Images.

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