By Rob Cornell
Wimbledon produced a battling display as they matched Peterborough United in front of the live TV cameras.
Lyle Taylor opened the scoring inside the first minute and Cody McDonald notched his first Dons league goal in a 2-2 draw, as Wimbledon produced a strong team performance and weren’t to be denied when the visitors turned the score around in the first-half.
There were two changes to the line-up that beat Lincoln City in the FA Cup first round over a week ago. George Francomb returned on the left side of defence for Callum Kennedy (back injury), while Liam Trotter came back into centre midfield in the absence of Jimmy Abdou – who was away on international duty with Comoros.
Wimbledon got off to the perfect start when Harry Forrester’s ball found Taylor on the right-hand side of the penalty area. The Dons striker kept up his excellent run of form with a low strike past Jonathan Bond in the Peterborough goal with incredibly just 36 seconds on the clock.
Buoyed by the early goal, Taylor kept up early pressure for Wimbledon, causing the visitors further difficulties cutting in from the right. However, Peterborough responded quickly with Marcus Maddison’s ball from the left setting up an early opportunity for former Newcastle defender Steven Taylor.
The game then started to open up more for both sides in an attacking sense by the quarter-hour mark. Forrester proved to be a menace to the Posh backline as he looked lively and had an effort deflected wide, as the first quarter of the game went Wimbledon’s way.
It was Peterborough who got the crucial second goal of the game though, from a well-directed Maddison free-kick. Danny Lloyd went up for the ball and the resulting touch came off Dons captain Barry Fuller and went into the goal off the frame.
With just over ten minutes to go until half-time, Wimbledon went close to re-taking the lead with McDonald, Taylor and then Andy Barcham keeping Bond alert in the Peterborough goal, as Barcham’s final effort looped over.
However, Grant McCann’s side turned the scoreline around eight minutes before the break when the referee awarded a penalty for Tom Soares challenge on the edge of the area on Maddison, The left-winger, highlighted as a threat before the game, dispatched the spot-kick beyond Long’s grasp.
That wasn’t the end of the scoring in an entertaining first-half as the hard-working McDonald (pictured) was rewarded for his efforts, when he found himself put through for his first league goal for the Dons.
McDonald’s predatory instincts and finishing kicked in as he finished calmly and confidently, holding off a late challenge, to put the ball past Bond as the Dons went in on level terms at the break.
Wimbledon survived an early scare involving Gwion Edwards and Jack Marriott, as the second-half got underway in front of a crowd of 4,220. The visitors kept up the pressure on the Wimbledon goal for the opening ten minutes as they looked to edge back in front.
Wimbledon had to work together defensively to continue to deny the Posh as they soaked up their attempts for a third goal, mainly from the left-side. When Wimbledon were able to break, they did so effectively through Barcham and Forrester, but were met with resistance.
Long pulled off a fine save from a Marriott header, approaching the midway point of the second period, meanwhile down the other end the ball had to be cleared as Darius Charles tried to get a shot away.
With nineteen minutes to go, Jon Meades replaced Barcham and McDonald attempted an acrobatic effort which went over the crossbar, as the pendulum again swung in Wimbledon’s favour.
Again, Peterborough fought back as Maddison’s low effort from distance was pushed away by Long with fifteen minutes remaining, but the Dons also continued to threaten at the other end, with Trotter looping a header over the bar after some good build-up play with nine minutes left.
Frustrations threatened to boil over when Maddison made the most of a coming together of heads with Trotter, which resulted in the referee showing the yellow card to both players.
At the final whistle, Wimbledon could take heart as they took a creditable point, against a side that could well figure in the play-offs come the end of the season.
AFC Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Francomb, Oshilaja, Charles, Forrester, Trotter, Soares, McDonald, Taylor, Barcham (Meades).
Photo: Matt Redman (Pro Sports Images).