Rovers and AFC Wimbledon in stalemate

Mar 14, 2021 | Match Reports, News

The first-half featured a duo of good openings for the Gas, with McCormick’s sweeping first-time strike denied from a central position by Tzanev. Nicholson would then go close in the dying minutes of the half as he burst into the area from the right side, he struck hard and low but saw Tzanev make the save once again.

It was a similar story in the second half with the Gas amassing a series of chances, Ayunga would go closest as the half opened, with the Kenyan rounding his man through a neat touch and a burst of pace, before seeing his strike once again stopped by Tzanev.

A chance for Wimbledon came with less than 10 to go as Longman lifted a superb cross over the onrushing Joe Day towards Ollie Palmer arriving late. The Gas defence recovered well, to just about stop Palmer from connecting and see it across the face of goal. Palmer would then be set through moments later for a one on one from the angle, but Joe Day made a superb save down low to his left.

Joey Barton kept his squad entirely the same as his side’s last outting, when the Gas emerged as 4-1 winners over Accrington at the Mem on Tuesday. Jonah Ayunga was once again tasked with leading the line after an impressive showing in midweek. Behind him, Sam Nicholson and Zain Westbrooke were available in support ahead of a midfield base including Luke McCormick and Ed Upson. The defensive five remained the same, with Rodman and Leahy as wing-backs with a central three of Williams, Kilgour and Baldwin, Joe Day would remain in goal.

Every season came and went at the Mem in the build-up to kick-off, with the weather eventually settling on rain to kick-off this clash between two sides in the scrap towards the bottom of League One.

A challenge on Sam Nicholson offered Zain Westbrooke an early sighter of goal on the 10-minute mark, lacing a superb free-kick narrowly wide of Tzanev’s goal from a central position, about 22 yards out.

Sam Nicholson was involved in the Gas’ next move as we jinked away from his man and drove a superb switch out to Rodman on the right flank. The wideman took a touch before swerving a low ball towards Ayunga, who’s touch ricochetted before climbing over the bar.

Pigott would secure a sight on goal for the visitors just after the 15-minute mark, cutting back into space before hitting a strike from 20+ yards out. It lacked venom or placement though, and Joe Day collected in the centre.

The Gas would spring up the other end and win a corner, which was neatly worked to McCormick on the edge of the box. He struck first-time but cleared the crossbar with his effort.

A quick throw from Rodman sprung the Gas’ next move as he threw to Nicholson who received a kind deflection off his man to push him behind the Wimbledon line. He squared across to McCormick who angled a low swerving strike, but Tzanev was equal to it, pushing it past the woodwork to keep the deadlock in place.

As the sun came out, around half an hour in, both side’s attacking intent looked to wilt somewhat as they headed towards the break, with chances hard to come by in the half’s late stages.

One more chance would come the Gas’ way before half-time, with Westbrooke slipping Nicholson in between the lines. His right-footed effort from the right side possessed power, but Tzanev was equal to it, rushing out well and reacting to palm clear. Ayunga was lurking for the rebound but it just evaded the towering striker.

A beautiful move from the Gas got the second half started as a string of one-touch passes connected on the right flank before Westbrooke tapped it inside to Ayunga. Ayunga’s touch was superb, prodding forward before rounding his man with pace, he struck with his second touch, but Tzanev once again prevented the Gas from opening the scoring.

Ed Upson would strike next for the Gas, with Nicholson controlling and wriggling space to pick a pass to his fellow-midfielder. Upson looked to loop one into the far corner first-time but struck just over the bar.

Tzanev had a superb game in the Dons net but showed a rare lack of concentration when coming to collect a routine cross into the box on the hour mark. He dropped it almost to the feet of Nicholson but did just enough to hamper the Scotsman’s effort on goal from close-range.

Nicholson would be integral in the Gas’ next move moments later, driving deep to the byline before lifting a superb cross ton Ayunga. The Kenyan forward flicked it goalwards well but saw Tzanev once again on hand to deny.

Rodman went down off the ball with an injury just beyond that last chance and was replaced by Brandon Hanlan soon after.

Westbrooke would pick out substitute Hanlan with a whipped free-kick minutes later, but the number 9 struggled to get enough lift on his header and saw his attempt nestle in the hands of Tzanev.

Westbrooke would drive through the Wimbledon ranks and strike for himself soon after, but his effort from distance skewed wide of the right post.

Wimbledon would go inches away from a winner in the final 10 minutes as Ryan Longman flicked a nice cross over Joe Day from the byline for the run of Ollie Palmer. The recovering defence did just enough to stop Palmer from connecting, stopping a certain goal.

Palmer would be involved again soon after, being set through towards the box from the right flank, he had just Joe Day to beat from the angle. Day slipped on his approach to the number 9 but made a superb stop as the forward struck, springing low to his left to deny.

Day would be on hand to make another superb save with less than 5 minutes to go, as Joe Piggott struck from the edge of the box. Day once again reacted well, diving acrobatically to stop.

Longman would cause danger in unusual circumstances in added time, as his whipped delivery looked to be dipping under the crossbar. Day remained alert though, back peddling and getting a crucial glove on the cross to take it away. This game truly was a game of two keepers, with the scores remaining as they started, 0-0.

Rovers travel to the Valley to take on Charlton on Tuesday evening.

Rovers: Joe Day, Luke Leahy ©, Ed Upson, Zain Westbrooke, Sam Nicholson, Luke McCormick, Alfie Kilgour, Jonah Ayunga (James Daly 83′), Jack Baldwin, Alex Rodman (Brandon Hanlan 67′), George Williams.

Subs: Jordi van Stappershoef, Max Ehmer, Pablo Martinez, Cam Hargreaves, James Daly, Brandon Hanlan, Zain Walker.

AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Alex Woodyard © (Jaakko Oksanen 82′), Will Nightingale, Cheye Alexander, Jack Rudoni, Nesta Guiness-Walker, Shane McLoughlin (Ryan Longman 65′), George Dobson (Ollie Palmer 73′), Darnell Johnson, Callum Reilly, Joe Pigott.

Subs: Matthew Cox, Luke O’Niell, Ollie Palmer, Jaakko Oksanen, Ayoub Assal, Ben Heneghan, Ryan Longman.