BY DAVE HUNT-JACKSON
AFC Wimbledon grabbed a valuable, and somewhat unlikely point at Shrewsbury on Tuesday with Ayoud Assal the hero on his league debut.
Entering the fray with a shade under 20 minutes left, and with the Dons a goal behind, the academy product capped a fine cameo with the late equaliser. He showed the acumen to pick the perfect position after Joe Pigott nodded down Cheye Alexander’s cross to stab the ball under Matija Sarkic in the Shrewsbury goal.
It was a curious game with each side conceding in the half they dominated.
Wimbledon were the better side in a first period where their pressing created enough uncertainty to keep their hosts penned in for most of the period. Only the final ball on occasions prevented them from taking what would have been a deserved lead into the break.
Instead they then switched off as they all too often do and allowed a short corner to develop unchallenged before Harry Chapman put the Shrews ahead late in the half.
The second half was very much the Shropshire side’s until Assal upset the applecart with that late equaliser.
The Dons sat back after the break and that gave Shrewsbury the time they needed to play out from the back without ever showing much ambition towards doubling their lead.
Although the home side had two goals ruled out for offside they never looked like troubling Sam Walker aside from that.
Sadly the same was the case for AFC Wimbledon, who looked short on ideas with Jack Rudoni and Ethan Chislett relegated to the bench. Callum Reilly, for all his industry, lacks Rudoni’s creativity in an advanced role.
It was a bold move by head coach Mark Robinson to bring on Assal ahead of Chislett and shows he does not lack courage in his decision making.
It is far too early to begin to speculate as to the impact Assal might have on the rest of the season but he showed ability on the ball. His awareness to make space to receive Pigott’s knockdown and composure to finish were equally impressive.
With Wimbledon still in the League One relegation zone it will be interesting to see if he gets an outing at Blackpool on Saturday.
Ayoub Assal. Showed as much going forward in a 19-minute league debut as all of his team-mates combined.
An Assal flick to put Cheye Alexander away down the wing.
PICTURES: SEAN GOSLING
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