AFC WimbledonSport

AFC Wimbledon unable to build on the Plough Lane highs of defeating MK as they look flat and fatigued in Grimsby stalemate


It was always going to take something special to break the deadlock in AFC Wimbledon’s 0-0 draw against Grimsby on Tuesday night.

AFC Wimbledon came into the game exhausted.

Just three days prior, the Dons had battled for 95 minutes and secured a last-gasp winner against bitter rivals Milton Keynes, with Ronan Curtis’ strike from inside the box sparking scenes of wild jubilation – the best moment since returning to Plough Lane.

The celebrations alone would have taken extra oomph out of Wimbledon, with just one full day of training scheduled before hosting a Grimsby side who are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table to stay in the EFL.

Dons boss Johnnie Jackson was dealt a further blow when Omar Bugiel pulled up in the warm-up with a groin injury, limiting the ability for his side to go long and have a focal point at the top end of the pitch.

Wimbledon lined up in a similar fashion to the back five that kept one of the league’s best attacking teams quiet last time out, with a back three and Josh Neufville and Jack Currie lining up as wing-backs.

Neufville’s pace caused problems for the Grimsby defence, but David Artell, who was interviewed for the job in SW19 before Jackson was handed the role at the start of the 2022-23 season, brought down a side who were robust at the back and limited Wimbledon to very few clear cut chances.

The closest the Dons came to opening the scoring during the first 45 minutes came when Currie arrived on to a ball that fell to the edge of the box, with the left-back’s effort forcing Harvey Cartwright into a smart stop.

Jake Reeves also hit a speculative effort with 39 minutes played from distance that just dipped over the bar.

It was the visitors who came closest to opening the scoring before the break – Currie produced an excellent goal-saving block and Donovan Wilson smashed an effort off the crossbar after the Dons failed to clear their lines.

The second half saw much of the same from Wimbledon – half-chances and efforts from distance. Armani Little took aim from the edge of the box in the 64th minute, but his shot flew just over the bar.

Goals still remain a problem for Wimbledon, they have scored just one in their last four games and will struggle should Bugiel be sidelined for a prolonged period.

Josh Kelly, who is yet to score in eight matches since arriving from Solihull Moors as Ali Al-Hamadi’s replacement, only touched the ball once in the opposition’s penalty box during the first 45 minutes, with the late change in system limiting the ability for the 5ft 8in tall striker to get on to the ball.

While the win over Milton Keynes will live long in the memory, the Grimsby draw was instantly forgettable – but the point could be valuable in the long run.

The Dons – three points off the play-offs – head to Notts County tomorrow, a side below them in the table and on a run of three consecutive defeats. They then host fellow hopefuls Gillingham, who are three points above them and level with seventh-placed Walsall, at Plough Lane.

Wimbledon remain firmly in the play-off hunt, but with the congested League Two table slowly starting to cut teams adrift from making the top seven, the next two outings are crucial for Jackson’s side to keep their dream of making a trip to Wembley in May alive.

Jack Currie. Excellent. An ever-consistent for the Dons, he was on top form again

Jake Reeves’ dipping shot in the first half.


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