Keeper Joe McDonnell steps up with an assured display
AFC Wimbledon got back on track after two successive defeats to defy relegation strugglers Swindon at the County Ground.
It could have been better if Jake Reeves had slotted home a great chance, but Joe McDonnell impressed at the other end for Wimbledon in a rare first-team outing.
With 869 travelling Dons making the trip as part of Volunteers’ Away Day, at least the Dons avoided defeat with a battling 0-0 draw.
Neal Ardley made three changes to the side that started last Saturday’s defeat to Bristol Rovers with goalkeeper Joe McDonnell earning a surprise call-up between the sticks in place of James Shea, who had been suffering with illness. Tom Soares and Tyrone Barnett both made the starting line-up in place of Alfie Egan and Dominic Poleon. There was a significant inclusion on the bench with teenage goalkeeper Joe Bursik called-up for first-team action.
minute when he showed good handling to hold onto Jon Obika’s shot from outside the area.thIt was certainly not a first half hour to set the pulses racing at the County Ground as neither keeper was properly tested. Wimbledon had the first hint of a chance when George Francomb sent over a good cross to the far post, but it was just cleared before Jon Meades could reach it. McDonnell was called into action for the first time in the 26
Wimbledon created the best chance so far on the half hour after a good move. Though Lyle Taylor was stopped in his tracks on the right after latching onto a fine ball from Jake Reeves, Francomb’s cross picked out Barnett, but he scuffed his shot and Lawrence Vigouroux gathered comfortably. At the other end, McDonnell made a fine save to keep Wimbledon level, the stand-in keeper reacting well to tip wide after a good run and shot from Johnny Goddard.
As we approached half-time, Wimbledon enjoyed a good spell of possession with Swindon pinned back towards their own goal. Twice in quick succession, the Dons put together impressive team moves that ended with fine balls in from Francomb across the goal, but no one was there to apply the finishing touch. You got the feeling that a victory could be on the cards for Wimbledon with a bit more conviction in attack.
The second-half started with Wimbledon pressing forward. A decent move ended with Taylor winning a corner and from the subsequent cross, the same player had his shot blocked. At the other end, a quick Swindon break ended with Paul Robinson blocking off Frankaty Dabo before he could get around the back. With other defenders potentially getting back, it was only a yellow card and Nicky Ajose curled the free-kick well over the crossbar.
Though Swindon continued to have plenty of possession, most of it was in their own half with little danger to Wimbledon’s defence and the home fans were getting particularly restless. A good chance followed just after the hour for Wimbledon with Francomb delivering a cross from the right and Barnett took one touch, before turning smartly and striking a shot that was deflected just wide. Barnett had been a willing runner throughout and he impressed with his hold-up play by offering a good target for attacks.
With 15 minutes to go, Swindon finally worked up a head of steam, but it was only really a brief rally. McDonnell’s handling impressed throughout and he did very well on two occasions, firstly when he held on well to Bradley Barry’s cross and then he pushed away a shot from an acute angle by the same player. Ten minutes from time came a double substitution for Wimbledon with Andy Barcham and Dean Parrett sent on for Barnett and Soares. Egan also earned another chance as he replaced Francomb with five minutes to play.
minute when Jake Reeves burst through one-on-one to latch onto a ball from Taylor, but Vigouroux spread himself well to save. Though a late winner was not to be for Wimbledon, it was a step in the right direction after two successive defeats. thThough Swindon attempted to pile on the pressure in the last 10 minutes, Wimbledon held firm at the back with McDonnell providing assurance between the sticks. Yet again, McDonnell stayed alert to gather a dangerous cross from Luke Norris. Wimbledon had the best chance of the game in the 90
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Jon Meades, Dannie Bulman, Paul Robinson, George Francomb (Alfie Egan), Jake Reeves, Tom Soares (Dean Parrett), Sean Kelly, Tyrone Barnett (Andy Barcham), Darius Charles, Lyle Taylor.
Pic credit: Stuart Butcher, Pro Sports Images.