Portsmouth Point Propels Dons Towards Play-Offs

Portsmouth 0 v Wimbledon 0

Wimbledon moved to within sniffing distance of the play-off places as they fought out a creditable 0-0 draw at Portsmouth on Sunday (15 November).

This blank encounter, played in difficult, swirling conditions, means that the Dons are now unbeaten in four league matches and in ninth place, out of the play-offs only because of their inferior goal difference.

And manager Neal Ardley was in bullish mood afterwards, telling the club’s official website: ‘Three or four weeks ago we got ripped apart on the break by Morecambe, but our response since then has been very good.

‘Today we played two up front with one in the hole behind, so it doesn’t get any braver than that. We came here and played a diamond formation and tried to hurt them. We didn’t come here to sit back and I think that showed.’

Both sides enjoyed periods when they had the upper hand but it was the home side who almost forced an early breakthrough, Caolan Lavery bursting to the by-line and firing in a cross-cum-shot that Ben Wilson had to be alert to punch away, with the Dons defence reacting quickest to clear any lingering danger.

But the Dons were soon on the front foot and had the ball in the back of the net in the fourth minute, only for Paul Robinson’s header against his former club to be rightly ruled out for offside following George Francomb’s inswinging free-kick.

And Sean Rigg – playing at the top of the diamond – also forced an early save from Portsmouth keeper Brian Murphy as the visitors enjoyed their start.

Portsmouth failed to capitalise when they had a period of pressure, with Wilson claiming well from Adam McGurk and Enda Stevens crosses, and it was the Dons who finished the first period on the front foot.

With just seconds remaining of the half, Ade Azeez got the better of his man and burst into the box. With Lyle Taylor urging a pull back, Azeez opted to shoot from an acute angle but hit the post and saw the effort go behind.

After having a quiet first period, Wilson was forced into action soon after the break when McNulty latched onto a long forward ball, nudged Robinson out of the way and turned Karleigh Osborne, but Wilson reacted well to charge off his line and block McNulty’s eventual shot at the expense of a corner.

And a short while later Christian Burgess went close with a header from a free-kick, substitute Bayo Akinfenwa having done enough with his presence to put off the Portsmouth player.

And the Dons ended the match on the front foot as two injury-time corners almost produced a winner, only for Akinfenwa to be centimetres away from connecting with one delivery as a Portsmouth defender got a crucial flick to deflect the ball away.

Wimbledon get a chance to extend their recent good league form when they entertain Wycombe Wanderers at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (21 November) before following that up with a midweek home encounter against strugglers Dagenham & Redbridge (24 November).

Portsmouth: Murphy, Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens, Evans (Clarke 58), Hollands, Doyle, McGurk (Bennett 66), Lavery (Atangana 79), McNulty. Subs not used: Boco, Tollitt, Chaplin, Bass.

Wimbledon: Wilson, Fuller, Robinson, Osborne, Meades, Francomb, Bulman, Reeves, Rigg (Kennedy 82), Taylor, Azeez (Akinfenwa 60). Subs not used: Beere, McDonnell, Gallagher, Kaja, Toonga.

Booked: Reeves 90.

Att: 15,892.

By Rob Crane

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November 16, 2015