Dons And Stags Serve Up Christmas Turkey

Wimbledon 0 v Mansfield 0

Wimbledon and Mansfield seemed to be suffering a pre-Christmas hangover as they served up a largely uninspiring 0-0 draw at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (14 December).

But with the threadbare Dons deprived of regulars Harry Pell, Alan Bennett and Sammy Moore and only able to name five substitutes, no doubt boss Neal Ardley will consider this a valuable point won in difficult circumstances, despite Mansfield going into the game on the back of six consecutive defeats.

Ardley commented on the club’s official website afterwards: ‘I’m not going to dress it up that we played well. It was a horrible, tough game.

‘[Mansfield boss] Paul Cox thought that he could expose our weaknesses because we were a bit makeshift and they bombarded us with long balls. We have kept a clean sheet and that was a positive after a difficult second half. We did not play well, but we stayed resilient.’

What positives there were in the first-half largely involved much-maligned pair Charlie Sheringham and Luke Moore. Sheringham was the first to shine, finding space with the ball in midfield and threading an excellent through ball for Smith to latch on to, only for Smith to fire off target.

It was then Moore’s chance to have a say in proceedings. First his dipping cross was only just prevented from looping under the bar by backpedalling Mansfield keeper Andy Marriott. Next the former Ebbsfleet man put in a fierce dipping volley that was narrowly off target following a half-cleared corner.

Sheringham was then fed by Peter Sweeney but fluffed his chance, before the golden chance of the game fell to Moore who found himself one-on-one with Marriott only for the former Forest keeper to pull off a terrific save to keep the score goalless.

The Dons continued to create the occasional half-chance in the second period – with Barry Fuller and Smith both seeing efforts going narrowly over – but the visitors started to come into the game more, forcing the best from Ross Worner.

First Worner produced a superb point-blank save to deny Matt Rhead, and then with the clock ticking down he did even better to turn away Sam Clucas’s header that seemed destined for the back of the net.

And Worner was in action again at the death to dive full stretch and turn away Ross Dyer’s powerful header, ensuring that there was no last-gasp winner for the visitors.

The Dons will be hoping that some of their injured players return for the busy festive period, with a trip to Newport this Saturday (21 December) followed by home games against Southend (Boxing Day) and Plymouth (Sunday 29 December) before the New Year’s Day trip to Dagenham & Redbridge.

Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Kennedy, Sheringham (Midson 75), Frampton, Fenlon, Francomb, Sweeney, L. Moore (Porter 68), Smith, Mohamed. Subs not used: Antwi, Sainte-Luce, Brown.

Booked: Porter 86.

Mansfield: Marriott, Westlake, Daniel, McGuire, Dempster, Riley, Clucas, Howell (Rhead 63), Dyer, Meikle (Hutchinson 62), Murray. Subs not used: Tafazolli, Beevers, Clements, Deakin, Palmer.

Attendance: 3,900

By Rob Crane

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December 14, 2013