Chesterfield 0 v Wimbledon 0
Neal Ardley’s patched-up Wimbledon side earned a creditable 0-0 draw at strugglers Chesterfield on Saturday (21 January).
The Dons were left counting the cost of Tuesday night’s fractious Sutton United match as several more players were ruled out through injury, while Paul Robinson missed out through suspension.
It all meant that the starting team facing Chesterfield contained just three outfield players – Darius Charles, Barry Fuller and Jake Reeves – who can be considered a shoo-in for a full-strength starting XI.
Alfie Egan came in for his full league debut alongside fellow Academy graduate Tom Beere in the heart of midfield, while the bench had an even more youthful look, including 17-year-old defender Toby Sibbick.
And it was Egan and Beere who earned most praise from Ardley afterwards.
‘I thought Alfie and Tom in midfield were excellent,’ he told the club’s website. ‘They provided real energy and their work-rate was phenomenal.
‘It was also tough on the five players who had not played as much. They had to get up to speed with League One football quickly and they did incredibly well, too.’
Given the nature of the line-up, combined with the fact that the Dons haven’t scored on their travels in the league since 22 October, it was perhaps inevitable that this was largely a defensive display from the Dons, although the hosts also struggled to muster much up front.
Chesterfield did have one early chance, spurned by Dion Donohue who fired over, while at the other end a short back pass released Tyrone Barnett but home keeper Ryan Fulton reacted promptly to thwart the striker.
And the list of untaken chances continued to grow as Charles fired over after Beere’s corner fell to him at close range.
Indeed, neither goalkeeper was tested in the first period, but five minutes after the restart James Shea was forced into action to gather Joe Nolan’s near-post effort following a Jay O’Shea cross.
And Wimbledon had their first effort on target when Dom Poleon’s 73rd-minute effort was straight at Fulton.
The closest that either side came was right at the death when Gboly Ariyibi’s low cross across the face of goal was begging to be tapped home, but Chef Evans was just unable to reach it.
The Dons are unlikely to see the return of many of the injured for Tuesday night’s visit to Gillingham, and will be grateful for a weekend without action before returning for the trip to Sheffield United on Saturday 4 February.
Chesterfield: Fulton, O’Neil, Hird, Evatt, Donohue, Nolan, Ariyibi, Gardner, O’Shea (Mitchell 70), Simons (Dennis 81), Evans. Subs not used: Martinez, Evans-Blake, Allinson, Maguire, Beesley.
Booked: Nolan 29, Hird 77.
Wimbledon: Shea, Fuller, Charles, Robertson, Kelly, Whelpdale, Beere (Bulman 82), Reeves, Poleon, Barnett (Oakley 72), Egan (Francomb 72). Subs not used: Kaja, McDonnell, Owens, Sibbick.
Booked: Charles 66, Francomb 92.
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January 22, 2017