Wimbledon 0 v Oldham Athletic 0
Wimbledon ended their season in predictable fashion on Sunday (30 April): with a goalless draw against fellow goal-shy side Oldham Athletic.
This was Wimbledon’s eighth match in ten where they failed to score, whilst it was the 18th clean sheet of the season for Oldham’s on-loan goalkeeper Connor Ripley.
The visitors were thankful for Ripley’s impressive form as it was his performance that ensured Wimbledon ended with another blank, albeit one that leaves them a highly creditable 15th in their debut League One season.
Ripley was responsible for a number of good saves that thwarted Wimbledon’s ambitions as the hosts enjoyed the upper hand throughout the match.
Dominic Poleon fired wide as early as the fifth minute, while Andy Barcham and Dannie Bulman also saw efforts off target.
Barcham came close to opening the scoring in the 22nd minute when, fed by Jake Reeves, he burst down the left, cut inside two men and produced a shot that beat Ripley only for an Oldham defender to clear it off the line.
Poleon had an effort saved by Ripley before the Dons came close again, Lyle Taylor heading against the upright after Alfie Egan did well to retrieve a scrappy period of play around the box by delivering a teasing cross.
Oldham finally threatened shortly before the break but James Shea was alert to tip over Tope Obadeyi’s effort at the expense of a corner.
The visitors maintained a bit of impetus after the break when Michael Ngoo shot wide from close range, but slowly Wimbledon reasserted themselves, with Poleon spurning the best opportunity when he shot straight at Ripley after a Taylor cross.
The introduction of substitutes Toby Sibbick and Egli Kaja gave Wimbledon an increasingly youthful complexion, but there were few more clear-cut chances for the Dons, although Barcham did fire over.
Indeed, the Dons were grateful to veteran defender Paul Robinson who covered well after Shea missed a through ball; Robinson did well to clear when Ngoo seemed poised to convert Ryan McLaughlin’s cross.
Manager Neal Ardley was in reflective mood afterwards, telling DonsPlayer: ‘We have stuttered a little bit, but take away the last few games and it has been a really remarkable season.
‘We did not get going until four games into the season, but we kicked on and we never looked like we would be in danger. We even got up to sixth place at one point.
‘Two years ago we were still trying to establish ourselves are a League Two team but now we are comfortably midtable as a League One team. I think we need to say that is a real step in the right direction and we should be proud of ourselves.’
Ardley’s plans for next season have already started taking shape as he announced the list of released players.
Dannie Bulman, James Shea and Chris Robertson have been released, alongside youngsters Tom Beere, David Fitzpatrick, Dan Gallagher and George Oakley.
Sean Kelly and Tom Elliott are both considering contract offers but have also been approached by other clubs.
Other unnamed under-contract players have been told they can leave if they can find alternative employment. ‘If they cannot find other clubs, then they will still be Wimbledon players next season,’ Ardley said.
Wimbledon: Shea, Francomb, Kelly, Robinson, Nightingale, Bulman (Sibbick 76), Reeves, Egan (Parrett 88), Barcham, Poleon (Kaja 77), Taylor. Subs not used: Barnett, Owens, Antwi, Tzanev.
Oldham: Ripley, Law, Edmundson, P. Clarke, Stott, Fane (Taylor 51), Flynn, O’Neill, Croft (McLaughlin 63), Obadeyi, Ngoo (Banks 70). Subs not used: B. Wilson, Kettings, Erwin, Green.
Booked: Ngoo 45.
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May 4, 2017