Wimbledon showed plenty of grit as they extended their unbeaten run and kept another clean sheet from their visit to Yorkshire.
Neal Ardley’s side showed a tremendous work ethic and a renewed team spirit in a goalless draw. They even had opportunities to claim all three points as striker Kwesi Appiah netted only to see the flag up for offside, against a Barnsley side tipped to make a swift return to the Championship.
Will Nightingale returned in central defence, Ben Purrington at left-back and Liam Trotter in midfield. Andy Barcham was fit again and able to start on the wing with Appiah also returning to the starting line-up. Rod McDonald, Tyler Garratt, Anthony Wordsworth, Mitch Pinnock and Joe Pigott reverted to the bench after the Carabao Cup victory at Portsmouth.
Brad Potts had an early opportunity to put Barnsley in front inside two minutes, but from the cross he was unable to finish. A minute later, Potts put another effort high over Tom King’s crossbar as Barnsley kept up the early pressure on the Dons goal.
Tom Soares produced Wimbledon’s opening effort with a low shot after nine minutes, which earned a corner. Mamadou Thiam responded for Barnsley down the other end. Scott Wagstaff put the ball just wide of King’s post, as the hosts continued to press with 14 minutes gone. Kieffer Moore then had a chance snuffed out by skipper Deji Oshilaja inside the penalty area.
Having held firm for the opening half hour, Wimbledon had an opportunity from a free-kick in the 33rd minute. Wagstaff was brought down just outside the area and Appiah floated his effort over the crossbar.
Although the Dons had come under considerable pressure in the first half and chances at the other end were limited, yet again they defended as a team to deny Barnsley with half-time approaching. With three minutes to go the hosts were again through on goal, but a decision in the penalty area went Wimbledon’s way. The Dons had to survive a few nervy moments, but were still on level terms at the break.
Barnsley picked up where they left off in the first half by putting Wimbledon under pressure when play resumed, but the Dons continued to match them with their defensive work. Potts again had early opportunities but failed to capitalise.
James Hanson caused problems in the penalty area from a corner for Wimbledon in the 54th minute. Moments later, Appiah produced a low shot which was saved by goalkeeper Adam Davies.
Nightingale and Oshilaja again teamed up to deny Barnsley and the resulting corner was an easy take by King from a Liam Lindsey header. Appiah (pictured) then burst through and had the ball in the net for Wimbledon following a great move, but then had his effort ruled out. With the midway point of the second-half looming, the Tykes took the opportunity to introduce former Dons loanee George Moncur for Tom Bradshaw.
Wimbledon continued to dig in and work as a team to shut out Barnsley, but the hosts were also lacking in their final touch to really trouble King. The Dons made two changes with just under ten minutes to go, with top scorer Joe Pigott replacing Appiah while Toby Sibbick came on for Tennai Watson at right-back.
Wimbledon looked to claim all three points towards the end as the game opened up in the closing stages, having had a much more effective second-half up front, but they had to settle for a hard-earned point.
AFC Wimbledon: King, Watson (Sibbick), Purrington, Oshilaja (c), Nightingale, Wagstaff, Appiah (Pigott), Trotter, Barcham, Hanson and Soares.
Pic credit: Simon Davies (Pro Sports Images).