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Match Reports

Dons held in frustrating draw

Wimbledon earn a share of the spoils

29 January 2022

AFC Wimbledon experienced yet more frustration on home turf after a cheek-puffing 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury Town.

The first-half had offered plenty of promise for the young Dons with the hassling and harrying that we had seen against Ipswich Town in evidence.

Alas the angst that has been felt after recent matches returned with a vengeance as the visitors stole in to put a sting in the tail with a slightly fortuitous goal after half-time that levelled the scores following Ayoub Assal’s opener. 

Nevertheless, our boys gave it everything as the game transformed into a scrappy affair in the second half with the usual Wimbledon spirit adding an extra bit of punch that many have come to expect from this side, albeit without the reward of a second goal.

Assal’s well-taken header was the undoubted highlight of the afternoon for Mark Robinson’s side, who fought hard for a draw. The team certainly came away from the contest with lessons to learn and positives to take from what was another rollercoaster 90 minutes.

With the home and away ends of the ground packed to the rafters, a sense of expectation swept around the stadium as IBO Super-Middleweight reigning champion boxer and Dons fan Lerrone Richards took to the pitch to rapturous applause following his title victory in December.

Robbo rung the changes once again for this home game, with new signing Lee Brown coming in for his first start, along with Will Nightingale and Terry Ablade. These alterations saw Nesta Guinness-Walker, Aaron Cosgrave and Dan Csoka drop out.

It set the tone for what would be another eventful afternoon here in SW19 as the players streamed out onto the field in front of a crowd of 7824. Wimbledon quickly got into the ascendancy as our high pressing game put the opposition under the cosh, a theme that has been ever-present in our recent games, despite results not going our way.

After 10 minutes the visiting Shrews were teetering on the edge and it didn’t take long for them to give way as the Dons hit the front soon after. Ethan Chislett got in well down the side with a penetrating run, before lofting up the simplest of balls for the onrushing Assal to head home clinically into the far corner for the ideal start. The stadium was bouncing, and it was clear that the confidence was flowing through the boys in yellow and blue as they continued to come forwards in waves.

Brown certainly impressed during the opening half an hour of his Dons career and provided an assured presence on the left-hand side, shuttling up and down the line in equal measure to provide near constant support. Wimbledon were really starting to enjoy themselves, Paul Osew cheekily nutmegging his opponent down the left-hand side in a move that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the beaches of Brazil.

The abundance of desire and tenacity within the Dons’ ranks shone through and in the end, it proved to be a comfortable first 45 minutes and a well deserved 1-0 half-time lead. It had been a typically principle-driven performance from Robbo’s men in the first-half and it was certainly an attitude to the game which didn’t falter in the early stages after the break.

The familiar chants of ‘allez, allez, allez’ were ringing out from the South London Movers End and the buoyant home faithful almost had a second goal to celebrate in reward for their vocal efforts as the lively Jack Rudoni arrowed a shot wide from distance following good hold up play from Chislett. However, things were set to turn sour for the Dons as a low cross was able to creep into the penalty area, and Daniel Udoh was allowed to scramble the ball home from close range after we failed to clear our lines.

The away side’s tails were up and Udoh was again proving to be menace for the Wimbledon backline, this time hitting a shot from distance that forced Nik Tzanev into a flying save to remove the danger. If the first half was largely uneventful, the second was the polar opposite with both sides committing numerous bodies forward when the opportunity allowed.

It was a relentless tempo that was driving this game, something which suits this Wimbledon side down to the ground. However, the dots weren’t connecting as fluently as they did during the first period for the Dons, meaning that our players had to dig deep once more to take the game to Shrewsbury as the minutes ticked into injury time.

Ultimately, a late winner failed to materialise as the points were shared on what was another frustrating afternoon for our young side. Attentions now turn to Tuesday night with Cheltenham Town the next side due to visit the Cherry Red Records Stadium as part of this hectic new year schedule.

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Will Nightingale, George Marsh, Ayoub Assal (Tomas Kalinauskas), Ethan Chislett (Anthony Hartigan), Jack Rudoni, Terry Ablade (Aaron Cosgrave), Luke McCormick, Ben Heneghan, Paul Osew, Lee Brown.


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