Ipswich Town 0-0 AFC Wimbledon - Match Report
Saturday, 24th Apr 2021 17:02
Town’s goal drought stretched beyond the 10-hour mark as they drew 0-0 at home to AFC Wimbledon, their fifth stalemate in eight games. Dai Cornell saved a Joe Pigott penalty in a first half dominated by the visitors, while the Dons striker also went closest for the Blues when he headed against his own bar in the second half.
Cornell and Oli Hawkins were handed their first starts under Paul Cook and Teddy Bishop returned to the XI.
Cornell replaced Tomas Holy in goal, while Hawkins, who had made three sub appearances since the change of manager, was the lone striker with Bishop, who missed Tuesday's 3-0 defeat at Northampton as he was ill, behind him in the number 10 role.
The Blues were otherwise unchanged from the team which lost to the Cobblers with left-back Stephen Ward again skipper with Luke Chambers on the bench.
Holy and Kayden Jackson, who started at Sixfields, were among the substitutes, while Freddie Sears dropped out of the squad.
For Wimbledon, Ryan Longman replaced the injured Ollie Palmer up front, while ex-Blues youngster Shane McLoughlin was on the bench.
Ahead of kick-off both teams and the officials took a knee in support of Black Lives Matter with the visitors, in form having won their last four, starting the stronger.
On four, Luke O’Neill crossed and Will Nightingale, the scorer of the Dons’ first goal in their 3-0 victory over the Blues earlier in the month, headed over.
The Londoners continued to have the better of it and on 10, George Dobson was teed-up just outside the area but his powerful, seemingly goal-bound shot was charged down by Luke Woolfenden.
From the resultant corner on the left, the ball fell loose to Jack Rudoni and this time it was Mark McGuinness who got his body in the way to block.
Town finally began to show something and on 11 they won their first corner, however, it came to nothing.
A minute later there was a big scare when McGuinness and Cornell miscommunicated with the keeper on the edge of his area and Dobson almost seized on a loose ball until the on-loan Arsenal defender managed to get back on it and clear the danger.
Keanan Bennetts struck Town’s first effort of the game on the quarter-hour, taking the ball into the area on the right from Hawkins’s flick but his low side-footed effort went well wide.
Wimbledon continued to look the most dangerous side with an Ayoub Assal shot blocked on 16 before the visitors had an even better opportunity.
After Gwion Edwards had lost possession on halfway, skipper Alex Woodyard cut inside from the right to Rudoni in space just inside the box but the midfielder shot wide when it seemed easier to hit the target. On 20 Cornell saved O’Neill’s strike from the right.
Town Town goal had been living a charmed life and in the 21st minute the Blues had keeper Cornell to thank for the scores remaining level after Wimbledon were awarded a penalty.
The ball had fallen for Joe Pigott in the area but as the striker worked himself to shoot, he was pulled back by one of several defenders around him and referee Ollie Yates pointed straight to the spot. Skipper Ward protested in a less than convincing manner.
Pigott took the kick himself but Cornell with his leg as he dived to his right, then got back across to stop the striker’s subsequent effort as Ward did as much as he could to make it difficult for the Wimbledon man to get to the ball.
Town, who had made very little headway all half, moved Bishop out wide and Bennetts into the centre to the left of Hawkins, then on 34 Edwards shot well over from distance.
In the 40th minute Pigott broke into the area to the left and was charging towards goal but Ward came across to slam the ball out of play before the striker was able to get in his shot.
A minute before the end of the half, Edwards was shown the game’s first yellow card for a late tackle on Nesta Guinness-Walker.
The Blues could count themselves very fortunate to go in level at the break with the shot count of Wimbledon 12, four on target, Town three, none on target, giving an accurate summary of the period.
While the penalty was obviously the best of the opportunities, the visitors had a number of other chances which they will feel they should have taken.
The lacklustre Blues had almost entirely been on the back foot with Bennetts’s shot their only real chance.
That the scoreline remained level was pretty much the only positive to take from the first half.
Town swapped Bennetts, who again failed to impress, for Armando Dobra ahead of the second half.
Wimbledon again went very close to going in front in the opening minute, Pigott escaping down the left and cutting back for Assal. Cornell first did well to close down the midfielder and then dived at his feet to claim the ball.
On 48 Rudoni smashed a shot into the side-netting at an angle from the left, then at the other end Dobra hit a shot against a defender, then Edwards scuffed a rebound to visiting keeper Nik Tzanev.
Despite the early Wimbledon chance, the Blues had started the second period more on the front foot than they had been in the first and in the 52nd minute they hit the woodwork.
Dozzell whipped over a corner from the right and Pigott diverted it on to his own crossbar as Hawkins prepared to head goalwards.
Town swapped Bishop for Cole Skuse in the 63rd minute, the veteran taking up a deep midfield role alongside Andre Dozzell with Flynn Downes ahead of them and Dobra on the right.
Moments after the change, Dobra forced Tzanev into his first serious stop of the afternoon, the keeper parrying his effort from the right of the box just past Downes. On 68 Hawkins was switched for Aaron Drinan.
In the 70th minute, Cornell, Town’s man of the match on his return, dived across to his right to palm Pigott’s 25-yard free-kick wide. The clock crossing the 71-minute mark took Town’s goal drought past 10 hours.
Wimbledon made a double change two minutes later with ex-Blue McLoughlin and Cheye Alexander taking over from Assal and O’Neill.
On 77 Jackson replaced Dozzell with Downes moving back alongside Skuse and the sub joining Drinan up front.
Dobra, Town’s most effective attacking player since his introduction, used his pace to beat a defender to the ball on the right on 79 before using a trick to work himself space and send in a cross which flew just behind Drinan.
A minute later, Town forced Wimbledon to give the ball away midway inside their half. Drinan fed Jackson on the right of the box and the sub hit a shot from a tight angle which Tzanev blocked.
In the 83rd minute Edwards was fouled to the left of the box but sent his free-kick into the area not only over the bar but over the net erected behind the goal and deep into the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.
Three minutes later, Woodyard blazed over from distance following a corner with Wimbledon chances having been much rarer events in the second half.
Town’s goalless streak now stretches to 619 minutes and in truth they again rarely looked like ending it. That Wimbledon striker Pigott came closer than any Town player to beating Tzanev summed up the afternoon.
The Blues, still unbeaten at home under Paul Cook, were better in the second half having been as woeful as at any time this season in the first and Wimbledon should have been out of sight by half-time.
Yet another 0-0 draw, Town’s eighth 0-0 of the season, sees them stay 11th ahead of next week’s trip to Swindon, whose relegation to League Two along with Bristol Rovers was confirmed following today’s 5-0 thrashing at MK Dons.
The Blues' longest ever goalless streak, the 714-minute run in the 1994/95 season in the Premier League, will be surpassed if the Blues fail to find the net at the County Ground and in the first six minutes at Shrewsbury in the following match.
Town: Cornell, Vincent-Young, Woolfenden, McGuinness, Ward (c), Dozzell, Downes, Bennetts (Dobra 46), Edwards, Bishop (Skuse 63), Hawkins (Drinan 68). Unused: Holy, Chambers, Nsiala, Jackson.
AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev, O’Neill (Alexander 73), Woodyard (c), Nightingale, Rudoni, Assal (McLoughlin 73), Guinness-Walker, Heneghan, Dobson, Longman, Pigott. Unused: Cox, Oksanen, McLoughlin, Harrison, Kalambayi, Osew. Referee: Ollie Yates (Staffordshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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