Resilient Wimbledon Thwart Promotion-Chasing Fleetwood

Fleetwood Town 0 v Wimbledon 0

Wimbledon earned a creditable 0-0 draw at promotion-chasing Fleetwood Town on Saturday (18 March) – just the third time that the home side have failed to score this season.

The Dons have an unbeaten record against Fleetwood, stretching back to non-league encounters, and the official statistics for this match show the Dons winning the possession battle and forcing six corners to the hosts’ two.

Wimbledon assistant manager Neil Cox told DonsPlayer afterwards: ‘It is a good performance to come away with a point against a team who were second in the league and in great form.

‘We were a little bit disappointed not to take all three points, but after the week we’ve had we would have taken a point beforehand.’

Dons keeper James Shea was only once extended unduly, reacting well in the first period to palm a vicious Ashley Hunter effort up and narrowly over the bar, after the Fleetwood man had broken the offside trap.

For Wimbledon, the closest they came in the first 45 minutes was when Jake Reeves drove wide from a half-cleared Dean Parrett corner, and when Parrett latched onto a poor clearance by Fleetwood keeper Alex Cairns and attempted to lob the ball home from midway in the half, only for Cairns to recover in time.

The home side started to exert some pressure at the start of the second half, such that the Dons opted for a comparatively early double substitution when Jon Meades and Lyle Taylor replaced Parrett and Tyrone Barnett.

Andy Barcham then took centre stage, first shooting over when latching onto a Tom Elliott flick, then shooting straight at Cairns when fed by Taylor, before breaking clear and delivering a cross that Fleetwood managed to scramble clear.

And the match ended with the Dons still on the front foot as in the final 10 minutes Meades’ miss contrived to set up a Barcham shot just over, while another Meades effort was deflected into Cairns’ arms.

The Dons will be hoping for a similarly strong defensive display coupled with more prowess in front of goal with back-to-back home games against Southend (Saturday 25 March) and Rochdale (Tuesday 28 March).

Fleetwood: Cairns, Eastham, Bolger, Davies, McLaughlin, Dempsey (Nirennold 78), Schwabl, Grant, Bell, Hunter (Brannagan 62), Ball. Subs not used: Glendon, Ekpolo, Reid, Urwin, Maguire.

Booked: Schwabl 94.

Wimbledon: Shea, Nightingale, Robinson, Charles, Francomb, Parrett (Meades 69), Bulman, Reeves, Barcham, Barnett (Taylor 69), Elliott. Subs not used: Poleon, Fitzpatrick, Kelly, McDonnell, Egan.

Att: 3,422.

By Rob Crane

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March 20, 2017