Carlisle United 1 v Wimbledon 1
Andy Barcham’s first goal for Wimbledon wasn’t enough to give his side victory as they drew 1-1 at Carlisle United on Saturday (22 August).
The home side equalised with just over 20 minutes remaining but the Dons dug in for a creditable away point.
Boss Neal Ardley chose to start this match with the pace of Tom Elliott and Lyle Taylor up front, dropping big Bayo Akinfenwa to the bench.
But any attacking intention had to be postponed as the Dons withstood initial pressure from Carlisle, with Barry Fuller clearing a Derek Asamoah cross from underneath his own crossbar.
And shortly after losing Dannie Bulman to injury in just the 10th minute – with Callum Kennedy coming on to replace the midfielder – the hosts struck the woodwork through Jason Kennedy’s header.
Elliott had a rare chance for Wimbledon as his header from a Callum Kennedy cross forced a save from home keeper Mark Gillespie, but it was James Shea, Gillespie’s counterpart, who was the busier custodian, including a save from another Jason Kennedy effort.
So it was somewhat against the run of play when Wimbledon took the lead in the 36th minute. Elliott and Taylor combined well to fashion a crossing chance for the latter, and Barcham didn’t spurn the invitation to stroke the ball home with his right foot.
Wimbledon survived Carlisle’s direct attempts at forcing an equaliser before the break, and afterwards almost extended their lead when Elliott teed up George Francomb, only for Gillespie to produce another save.
And Elliott went close himself in the 55th minute, spurning the opportunity after showing a deft touch to create space in the box.
The Dons were made to pay when Carlisle equalised in the 67th minute. A free-kick wasn’t cleared and fell to the unmarked Jabo Ibehre who controlled the ball and lashed it past an onrushing Wimbledon defender to level the scores.
Akinfenwa, introduced as a substitute shortly before that equaliser, twice had chances to give Wimbledon the lead again, firing a volley just over and then curling another effort just off target, but neither side was able to net again before the final whistle.
‘I don’t think that we were at our best,’ Ardley told the club’s official website afterwards, ‘but when a team [Carlisle] plays brave on a big pitch and pens you back you have to see your jobs out.
‘It was more about catching them on the break, rather than dominating like we did in the first-half against Cambridge.’
The Dons return to action at Kingsmeadow next Saturday (29 August) when they entertain fellow fan-owned club Exeter City, before travelling to Mansfield Town the following weekend.
Carlisle: Gillespie, Miller (McQueen 81), Raynes, Archibald-Henville, Grainger, Joyce, Kennedy, Dicker (Brough 61), Héry, Asamoah (Wyke 61), Ibehre. Subs not used: Hanford, Balanta, Rigg, Thompson.
Goalscorer: Ibehre 67.
Booked: Grainger 71, Miller 76, Raynes 91.
Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Osborne, Robinson, Meades, Francomb, Bulman (Kennedy 10), Reeves, Barcham, Elliott (Azeez 77), Taylor (Akinfenwa 62). Subs not used: Nightingale, Rigg, Fitzpatrick, McDonnell.
Goalscorer: Barcham 36.
Booked: Osborne 88.