Late goal thwarts dominant Wimbledon
Wimbledon ended their long search for a goal away from home, but went down to a late header at Shrewsbury Town.
Andy Barcham's second half strike came 12 hours and 57 minutes since Tom Elliott scored at Peterborough, last October.
There were three changes to the Dons starting line-up from the midweek draw with Coventry. Darius Charles returned to fitness, there was a starting place for David Fitzpatrick and Elliott was back from a one match suspension.
Dannie Bulman and Dom Poleon dropped to the bench with Chris Robertson missing from the line-up for the midweek game.
With just over a minute on the clock, the Dons earned their first corner after the ball was fired into the Shrews penalty area from Dons goalkeeper James Shea. The Dons kept up the early pressure with Francomb delivering a corner into the back of the penalty area for Charles, who headed wide.
The Dons kept up the early pressure with crosses coming from Francomb and Fitzpatrick, but worringly Elliott collided with the post and required attention from Dons physio Stuart Douglas. After treatment, he was able to continue.
It was Shrewsbury who had the ball in the net first though, just after ten minutes, only for it to be ruled out for offside. At the other end, Francomb continued to deliver set-piece opportunities, but it required better finishing from the visitors.
Approaching the midway point of the first half. Shrewsbury's Shaun Whalley was brought down on the edge of the area for a free-kick in a dangerous position, which was squandered. The Wimbledon backline left chances open for Shrewsbury at times, but did enough to keep dangerman Freddie Ladapo at bay.
With just over ten minutes to go, in increasingly warm sunshine, the hosts had to bring Dom Smith on for Joe Riley. The Dons still required a finishing touch though as the half moved on.
Good combination play from Junior Brown and Alex Rodman forced Shea down to make a save four minutes before the break. A couple of minutes later, Shea gathered from Ladapo.
However, back came the Dons and their best chance of the half fell to new signing Tom Soares, whose shot cannoned off the post. Into time added on, the Dons thought their away goal drought in the league had come to an end in time added on only for it too to be ruled out. Elliott was left querying the decision.
Although it was goalless, it had been a positive attacking performance from the Dons as the half came to a close.
The Dons again made a positive start to the second half, forcing Shrewsbury back in front of 5751 fans - 318 supporting the Dons.
Elliott and Taylor tried to force their way into the danger zone, troubling the framework of the goal.
Sean Kelly picked up a yellow for having been deemed to have fouled to Smith with ten minutes of the second half gone. Soares forced Jayson Leutwiler to get down to make a save. Kelly then found himself walking a tightrope for a foul on Ladapo with a free-kick given.
It proved a turning point, as Tyler Roberts' expertly executed the set-piece with a deflection past Shea for the lead.
Back came Wimbledon immediately and Barcham ended nearly thirteen hours without a goal on the road in the league, with a low strike beating Leutwiler for the equaliser. Poleon was immediately introduced for Fitzpatrick from the bench, as Wimbledon went searching for the lead.
Ladapo was replaced by Stefan Payne, with a quarter of an hour to go, for Shrewsbury, with former Shrewsbury striker Tyrone Barnett replacing Lyle Taylor five minutes later.
Wimbledon pushed for a winner, but were denied a third successive point at the end of a hard week for Neal Ardley's side by a late header from Aristote Nsiala.
AFC Wimbledon: Shea Robinson Francomb Reeves Elliott Soares Barcham Fitzpatrick (sub Poleon) Kelly Charles Taylor (sub Barnett)
Our photo shows Andy Barcham scoring AFC Wimbledon's equaliser. (Credit: Simon Davies for ProSports Images.)