AFC Wimbledon produced a solid defensive performance to secure a battling draw at Shrewsbury today.
The 0-0 draw was far from entertaining, but Wimbledon showed plenty of character to defy an in-form side, and it extended an impressive away run in recent weeks. It was perhaps just a shame that Wimbledon couldn’t mount much threat going forward, The Dons only really coming close through Joe Pigott in the second-half.
Wally Downes decided to select an unchanged starting 11 for this match and there was only one change to the squad with Jake Jervis replacing Tyler Garratt on the substitutes’ bench. The Dons came into this match seeking a third successive away win, but Shrewsbury provided a big challenge with the hosts four unbeaten heading into the game. The travelling Dons contingent, swelled thanks to a generous offer from the players to fund two supporters’ coaches, gave a rousing ovation to the squad after they had finished the pre-match warm-up.
Wimbledon started well with Michael Folivi offering early threat. The on-loan forward found space in behind within the first two minutes, but he was just stopped as he darted into the area, and a corner was the outcome. The Dons earned four corners in the first eight minutes, but the only time a threat was posed came when Paul Kalambayi headed down Anthony Wordsworth’s corner, but Shrewsbury keeper Steve Arnold got down well to gather the ball. At the other end, a quick Shrewsbury break offered Tyrese Campbell an opportunity to show his pace on the left. Though his cross was too deep, Shaun Whalley knocked it back into the danger area, but Paul Kalambayi showed good awareness to clear the ball.
As we approached the midway point of the first-half, Shrewsbury were starting to show the attacking play that put play-off chasers Doncaster to the sword in midweek. David Edwards put over a cross that picked out Campbell, but his effort was comfortably collected by Aaron Ramsdale. On-loan Stoke City forward Campbell also powered down the left flank again to get a cross in, but Will Nightingale watched it all the way and headed it out for a corner. Ramsdale also saved well to hold onto a shot from outside the area by Campbell. The on-loan keeper also showed good hands to grasp a shot by Aaron Holloway. Though Shrewsbury had the majority of first-half possession, Wimbledon’s defending had restricted them to very little. The centre-back trio of Nightingale, Kalamabayi, and Thomas were showing plenty of resilience and commitment to the cause.
Shrewsbury fashioned the best chance so far in the 42nd minute when Shaun Whalley found space on the right and crossed to the near post, but Josh Laurent headed over from close-range. That meant a half-time score of 0-0 and Wimbledon could be pleased with the defensive display, without really creating anything in attack.
The second-half started with Wimbledon holding firm in defence, but Campbell remained a constant threat. The pacy forward showed good movement to create space in the 53rd minute, before trying his luck with a shot from an acute angle, but Ramsdale held onto the ball well. With an hour gone, Shrewsbury were still dominating possession, but they were finding it difficult to create anything against a well-drilled Dons defence. Nightingale showed his defensive qualities on numerous occasions, reading the game well, and making crucial interceptions to stop Shrewsbury.
With Wimbledon pressed back into defensive duties for long spells, it was proving hard to create anything in attack, but there was a near miss in the 67th minute. Good approach play from Wagstaff created space down the left for Seddon and his cross was well met by Pigott, but his effort was over the crossbar. Wally Downes made a change in the 71st minute with James Hanson introduced for Wagstaff. The Dons almost fashioned a great chance when Pigott put a ball through for Folivi, but Arnold got there first. With seven minutes to play, Shrewsbury were forced into a change with their number one Steve Arnold having to go off injured and he was replaced by Jonathan Mitchell. Shrewsbury pressed for a late winner, but Wimbledon maintained a good shape to earn a hard-earned point on the road.
AFC Wimbledon: Aaron Ramsdale, Will Nightingale, Terell Thomas, Scott Wagstaff (James Hanson), Anthony Hartigan, Steve Seddon, Toby Sibbick, Paul Kalambayi, Joe Pigott, Anthony Wordsworth, Michael Folivi (Mitch Pinnock)