Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Match Reports

Dons denied victory after much-improved second-half display

A 0-0 draw at the Cherry Red Records Stadium

15 January 2022

AFC Wimbledon had to settle for a point after a pulsating second half when Robbo's team pressed hard for a deserved winner.

The Dons gave it everything after the break but just couldn’t carve a way through despite Assal hitting the bar with a fierce cross-come-shot from the left. Although it wasn’t the win we all wanted there were clear signs that the players were regaining the momentum that had dominated the performances in December at Accrington and Wycombe.

Wimbledon's players certainly showed that they had shaken off the signs of rustiness that had slightly plagued their last three performances and were unlucky not to leave this match with all three points as they pushed hard for a winner in the closing stages.

The slick passing and drive that was on display certainly bodes well for the future and with a welcome clean sheet being kept to boot, it was a performance that could potentially offer a solid foundation for the Dons to return to form with a gruelling schedule of games coming up.

Alas there were no goals to cheer for the expectant home faithful, but many fans will have come away from the match thinking that they had just seen a glimpse of what everyone knows this young Wimbledon side is capable of.

A frustrating afternoon maybe but definitely one which will have increased spirits rather than dampening them. Ollie Palmer and Ayoub Assal came the closest for the hosts throughout the 90 minutes, but the pressure ultimately failed to pay off as the visiting Shrimps clung on for a point when they really deserved to walk away empty handed.

Mark Robinson made two changes to the side which lost on Tuesday, with George Marsh and Paul Osew coming in for Anthony Hartigan and Nesta Guinness-Walker, who were both missing through injury and suspension respectively. Meanwhile, new signing Terry Ablade returned to the bench.

For the visitors, former Dons Shane McLoughlin and Ryan Delaney were named in their squad for this highly anticipated clash. Some 42 days had passed since the Dons had last taken to the hallowed turf at the Cherry Red Records Stadium and there was certainly a sense of expectation which swept through the stands as fans both young and old took their seats. That enthusiasm clearly transferred to the men on the pitch with Paul Osew being the first to tear down the left before his flighted cross was headed high and wide by Jack Rudoni as Wimbledon started the game in energetic fashion.

The home side’s tails were up, and they were certainly getting some joy down the left, with Marsh this time firing in a cross which forced a Morecambe man to put the ball in behind for a corner.

Morecambe were certainly the side on the back foot during the opening 15 minutes, with the Dons’ high pressing game causing all kinds of chaos along the backline for the away side, often forcing them to go long as opposed to looking to play out from the back. However, the Dons had to stay on their toes, particularly with the Shrimps possessing players within their ranks who could make a difference against the run of play. Shane McLoughlin was the first to fire in a warning shot against his former club during a rare foray forward, his shot flashing into the side netting.

The visitors slowly began to grow into the game, and it was their dangerman Cole Stockton who was next to threaten as a lofted ball set him away clear on the Dons goal before Ben Heneghan crashed in with a brilliant sliding challenge to divert the ball away from the in-form marksman. As the first 45 minutes wore on, it was Wimbledon who continued to enjoy the majority of the possession against a slightly passive Morecambe side, but there was no sign of any real clear-cut chances being created. It was a game that was finely balanced heading into half time, and one that was quite clearly there for the taking for whoever blinked first.

Robbo’s boys were caught slightly cold in the first few minutes of the second half, with Stockton again wriggling into room before firing a warning shot over the crossbar from just outside the area. This clearly gave the Dons the wake-up call needed, and we soon tested Trevor Carson in the Morecambe goal for the first time as Marsh’s dipping volley forced the shot-stopper to fumble the ball behind.

Wimbledon were starting to bang on the door in front of a typically vocal home crowd and it was Palmer who came even closer, Will Nightingale’s deft nod on from a Luke McCormick corner allowing the striker to powerfully head towards the net. However, Carson made a superb save to deny the number nine.

A total of 7128 supporters were packed into the Cherry Red Records Stadium, the familiar chants of ‘allez, allez, allez’ urging the yellow and blue bodies forward in unison as a breakthrough was sought. Palmer was next to threaten again in front of the South London Movers Stand as the ball broke to him on the left side of the box, but his shot lacked power and was easily scooped up by Carson.

The pressure was certainly being sustained, but the penetration was lacking in the final third as the Shrimps continued to prove to be a tough nut to crack. Osew was again proving to be a great outlet on the left flank, and it was his near post cross which tested the Morecambe back-line as the ball was directed behind with Rudoni closing in. The Dons then almost took the lead that the second-half improvement deserved in fortuitous circumstances as Assal’s cross clattered against the bar with Carson beaten all ends up.

McCormick continued to be influential in the game, hustling and harrying the opposition at every opportunity before setting his team on the way to attack after continuously winning it back in centre field. Dapo Mebude and Egli Kaja were thrown on in a late bid to inject some more pace and directness into the game as we approached the final five minutes of normal time. Still there was no goal and as a result it was Ablade who was next to be introduced as he made his way on for his home debut with stoppage time approaching. However, it proved to not be enough as the teams walked away with a share of the points.

It was certainly a welcome clean sheet for the Dons after what was another improved performance, but in the end the scores finished level as we look ahead to Portsmouth’s visit to SW19 on Tuesday night.

Advertisement block