Date: 7th April 2014 at 5:24pm
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What did Harry Bassett say about barn doors and banjos? It was a turkey shoot, missing the one vital ingredient. Wimbledon carpet-bombed the worst-performed away team in the league and had nothing to show for it, except one precious point in the excruciating limp towards League 2 safety.

For those fully expecting the Dons to harvest three points against the jittery Bristol Rovers, by far the worst travellers in the league, then they didn’t take into effect Wimbledon’s very own fallibility to do themselves justice at home.

And yet again the goal-seekers came up short in an exasperating scoreless draw. Neal Ardley helpfully provided the killer stats: 33 crosses and 15 attempts. Yet that bombardment yielded nothing. You could say (again) that Wimbledon ‘lacked quality in the final third.’

Bristol Rovers, fighting their own desperate battle against relegation, went away with what they came for just as did York City, Bury, Torquay United and Northampton Town with victories and Plymouth Argyle, Mansfield Town, Dagenham & Redbridge and Accrington Stanley with one point before them.

The Rovers, with a new manager Darrell Clarke in tow, came to Kingsmeadow having won just one of their 20 away games this season (+7 draws). You can now make that eight draws.

Clarke was realistic enough to admit: “It’s a point closer to where we need to be. AFC Wimbledon will probably think they are unfortunate not to have won the game, but we dug in.

“It was tense out there, as you could see from the way we played. The players are edgy and don’t want to make mistakes. We need more, we know we do, and I’m not going to pull the wool over anyone`s eyes; we have to be better.”

The chronic inability to score has cost the Dons dearly this season. Ardley estimates it’s cost the team “the 12-14 points that would have [put us] in the play-offs.” Probably most fans instead would be more interested in it not having a detrimental effect on our relegation chances.

The Pirates got off easy compared to the meltdown Wimbledon experienced at The Memorial Stadium earlier in the season.

For the doom-mongers there is still some gap between that fate with six points to second-from-bottom Northampton Town (who won 1-0 at Accrington). The Dons have five games left to get the three or four points to stagger over the finish line.

Yet, crucially, the effort is still there. Ardley, and it seems a large number of fans, were satisfied with the shift put in by the team, even if the goals were glaringly absent. It is equally glaringly obvious the area that the gaffer needs intensive re-working in the summer months.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t win the game as I thought we were the better team,” Ardley said.

“We work hard at being an attacking team and today we had 33 crosses and 15 attempts. You’d like to think one of those would go in.

“The season hasn’t gone as we hoped. We’d like to have been further up [the table]. Our little confidence lapse in front of goal this last three to four months has probably cost us the 12-14 points that would have [put us] in the play-offs.

“We had to score a goal to change it, but I thought that we played well. I look at them as a group of players and everything that we worked on during the week they gave me today. We did everything but put the ball in the back of the net.”

Ardley started with Jack Midson and new loan signing Kwesi Appiah. Both had some great scoring chances, some were blocked, some were well saved by Rovers goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall, in another heroic ‘Gordon Banks’ performance from a visiting shot-stopper.

Appiah impressed with his directness and first touch, while Midson had his moments but couldn’t improve on his season haul of four goals from 14 starts (and 35 total appearances).

“Midson had a golden opportunity to put it away but chose not to shoot with his left foot when he had clean line of sight on goal; the dithering as he tried to work the ball on to his right foot wasted what could have been the winning goal,” Singapore Don said on the WDSA match thread.

“Both Hylton and Midson need to mirror Appiah’s first touch ball control; he looked a different class, taking the ball and turning it into a great pass or great turn and run towards goal. Really impressed by Appiah’s movement,” he added.

Ardley threw on Danny Hylton for Appiah for the last 25 minutes, along with Kevin Sainte-Luce and gave Charlie Wyke the final minutes in his farewell game before the expiry of his loan deal, yet none could come up with the winning goal.

“I thought that Kwesi Appiah and Jack Midson had a good understanding in the first half and they looked likely to make something happen,” Ardley said.

“We looked strong and kept driving on. I hope the fans will come away from the game thinking that they could not have asked for much more, apart from us taking the lead and winning the game.”

It’s instructive that the Dons man-of-the-match award went to defender Will Antwi, rather than to any of the profligate attackers.

Antwi and Darren Jones were solid at the back and didn’t give Rovers target man, Matt Harrold, a bane for the Dons in the past, a look in on goal. Ross Worner had little pressure on him throughout the game.

As Ray Armfield put it: “Got to give credit to the often-maligned Will Antwi – deservedly got the MOTM and apart from a few skewed clearances, he was more Vincent Kompany than Vincent Price.”

So it’s back on the road next weekend to Southend United and wouldn’t it be nice to get a result there like last time.

Written by Onyadon aka Rob Smith.

Rob writes the Wimbledon Downunder Supporters’ Association (WDSA) blog and lets us use this blog with his permission. To view WDSA – Click Here.

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