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Match Reports

Dons take hard-earned point

A goalless draw on the road

6 August 2022

Johnnie Jackson’s AFC Wimbledon were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by a plucky Hartlepool United on Saturday in a game of few clear-cut chances.

The Dons came into the game brimming with confidence after seeing off Gillingham on the opening day and were more than aware that a hurting Pools side could pose a tough test after they were humbled 4-0 away at Walsall last Saturday.

And it was a test that did indeed trouble Wimbledon at times as delivery after delivery was hoisted into the penalty box, with the likes of Nik Tzanev, Alex Pearce, Will Nightingale and Lee Brown having to be at their best to batten down the hatches.

Tzanev in particular will emerge with a lot of the credit this afternoon as he denied Rollin Menayese from close-range with a miraculous save, whilst with the ball at his feet he appeared composed and untroubled when put under pressure.

Overall, it was certainly a point gained for the Dons on a day when our side showcased it’s battling qualities and it is a performance that could count for a lot more come the business end of our League Two campaign.

Jackson named an unchanged starting eleven from the victory over Gills, whilst David Fisher was named on the bench for the first time this season.

Plenty of Dons fans made the long trip north for this game, with many mingling in and around the Marina as they soaked up the summer sun prior to kick-off.

Wimbledon stroked the ball round well in the opening quarter without really threatening.

Hartlepool’s deep backline was proving a tough nut to crack and at the other end they were causing problems too with Pearce having to stay alert to intercept a dangerous through ball.

Ayoub Assal was first to go close for the Dons, with the attacking midfielder picking the ball up midway inside the opposing half before firing in a rising effort that comfortably cleared the bar.

Pools continued to carry a threat however and Tzanev was the next to be put to the test as he claimed a dangerous cross well under pressure.

Brown then struck from long-range, with his powerful drive being spilled by Ben Killip as Josh Davison looked to tap home the rebound.

In a frantic finish to the first-half, Paris Maghoma was forced into displaying extreme flexibility as he made an acrobatic clearance. In the same passage of play Assal was sent in behind down the left channel before he saw his shot from a tight angle deflected behind by Killip. From the resulting corner, George Marsh came close to opening the scoring with a cheeky backheel.

Marsh was then the first to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the second 45 minutes as his neat interplay and dribbling saw the Dons eat up the yards into the opposing half.

Tzanev was then forced into a fantastic save as he denied Menayese from point-blank range as a melee ensued in the penalty area.

Hartlepool were beginning to build in confidence and Wimbledon needed to get a hold of the game if they were to emerge with any sort of points haul.

It was the hosts who would then go even closer to taking the lead as a cross from the left deflected onto the crossbar.

In the end, Wimbledon weathered the storm and emerged with a well-earned point on the road as a reward for a resilient defensive display.

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Chris Gunter, Will Nightingale, Alex Pearce, Lee Brown, Jack Currie, George Marsh, Paris Maghoma, Ethan Chislett (Kyle Hudlin), Josh Davison (Nathan Young-Coombes), Ayoub Assal

PICS: Malcolm Bryce (Pro Sports Images)

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