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Dons denied victory by resolute Grimsby

A 0-0 draw at the Cherry Red Records Stadium

5 March 2024

Club News

Dons denied victory by resolute Grimsby

A 0-0 draw at the Cherry Red Records Stadium

5 March 2024

The Dons were made to settle for a point tonight with Grimsby showing plenty of defensive steel to deny Johnnie Jackson's men.

After the euphoria of Saturday's dramatic late show, this 0-0 draw was certainly not the follow-up performance that any of us wanted. A victory would have put Wimbledon right in the play-off mix, but it was not to be, and a maximum points return at Notts County on Saturday is now more of a necessity to realistically stay in contention for a top-seven place.

However, we're still in the race - and the Dons at least kept going tonight after a first-half when Grimsby had chances to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Johnnie Jackson initially selected an unchanged starting line-up, but his plans had to be tweaked close to kick-off when Omar Bugiel was deemed not fit enough to start after the warm-up and he was replaced by Saturday’s goal hero Ronan Curtis. That meant Alex Pearce was called into the squad as a substitute.

Both sides came into this match on the back of morale-boosting victories, our opponents defeating Forest Green on Saturday to move six points clear of the League Two relegation zone.

Following the ultimate high of our thrilling win at the weekend, the first-half was in stark contrast – all rather flat from a Wimbledon perspective. The Mariners belied their lowly position early on and should really have taken the lead in the fourth minute. Jamie Andrews sent over a cross from the right that picked out Harvey Rodgers, but he headed over the crossbar.

Another chance followed for the men in black and white, this time to Danny Rose, but he headed the ball too close to Alex Bass, who saved comfortably. At the other end, the Dons finally threatened when Jack Currie struck a powerful effort with the outside of his boot midway through the first-half that Grimsby keeper Harvey Cartwright did well to palm away.

That effort failed to swing the game Wimbledon’s way though and Rose missed from close range in the 25th minute after a last-gasp challenge by Kofi Balmer had initially stopped what seemed like a certain goal.

In a first-half when the Dons failed to exert sustained pressure, the men in yellow and blue were limited to shots from distance. However, one of those threatened to be a goal of the season contender – Jake Reeves striking an absolute piledriver from 25 yards that was bound for the roof of the net before Cartwright intervened with a superb fingertip save.

There was another warning to the Dons just before half-time though when Donovan Wilson cracked a shot against the crossbar from just inside the area.

Wimbledon showed more urgency to attack at the start of the second-half and came close to breaking the deadlock with a header by Tilley that Cartwright did well to save. However, Grimsby were proving to be stubborn opponents, defending effectively to nullify Wimbledon. Reeves tried the direct approach once again just after the hour with a half volley that looped just over the crossbar.

The Dons started to turn the screw in the final third of this match, finally forcing Grimsby to defend in numbers as pressure was exerted. Josh Neufville, who impressed once again in a right wing-back role, then produced a fine run and cross to set-up Curtis, but his header was too close to Cartwright. Armani Little then delivered arguably the pass of the game to pick out Curtis, but he failed to control the ball.

With no breakthrough made, Johnnie Jackson made his first change of the night 15 minutes from time with Josh Davison entering the fray in place of Josh Kelly, but the Dons toiled in pursuit of a late winner. Despite late pressure, there was no dramatic conclusion this time as Wimbledon were denied all three points.

AFC Wimbledon: Alex Bass, Lee Brown, Jake Reeves, Kofi Balmer, James Tilley, Josh Kelly (Josh Davison), Josh Neufville (John-Kymani Gordon), Armani Little, Ronan Curtis, John-Joe O’Toole, Jack Currie.


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