Wally Downes can’t get any satisfaction until AFC Wimbledon are the whole package

AFC WIMBLEDON 1
Ebanks-Landell (og) 31

SHREWSBURY 1
Cummings 73

BY LAURENCE LOWNE AT THE CHERRY RED RECORDS STADIUM

The pre-match playlist included The Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and perhaps foretold what was about to ensue in Saturday’s game, as expectation was tempered by frustration.

The challenge Dons manager Wally Downes faces, and no doubt discussed with his guest for the day Steve Coppell, is finding a way for the team to put together two strong back-to-back periods of 45 minutes.

This was again a game where AFC Wimbledon dominated for one half, but not two. There were also some interesting interpretations of the laws of the game by the match officials – there was a strong claim for at least one penalty and possibly four.

Shrewsbury Town are lower scorers than Wimbledon in the league this season but the hosts have not scored more than once since April 27. They built up sustained pressure in the first half but could not make it a two-goal cushion.

A sequence of corners by Anthony Hartigan eventually saw the ball nestle in the net. It was credited as an own goal by Ethan Ebanks-Landell, but Joe Pigott did his best to make a claim too, and the video does suggest he got a touch. Another one for the disputes committee to rule upon.

Will Nightingale had a header cleared off the line from another corner, while Marcus Forss had genuine claims for a penalty waved away after a fine cross came in and he had his legs taken out when lining up for a shot.

The referee was looking through a sea of bodies but the assistant referee had a clear view. No flag, apparently no mention via the earpiece and Dons’ appeals were waved away.

Referee Graham Salisbury gave a goal kick.

“The only way the guy could clear it was to come right through him, which he did,” said Downes.

“He’s got the ball after he’s wiped Marcus out. First of all, it’s a goal and Marcus scores. That doesn’t happen, he’s fouled and it’s a penalty. If not that, then it’s a corner. There were four possible outcomes and he’s come up with the wrong one out of the four.

“If the decision had gone for us in the first-half and one hadn’t been cleared off the line, I think we would have been away and gone at half-time.

“We would have been 2-0 up and the game is different, but it wasn’t and we had to be stronger as a group in the second-half.

“When the win comes, another will follow that and the chests will be puffed out.”

Those who have watched Wimbledon this season know holding on to a winning position is unlikely.

So it came as no surprise that debut boy Jason Cummings secured an equaliser for the visitor and a share of the points after Luke O’Neill gave the ball away with a poor choice of cross, which then left the defence exposed.

Cummings had a further chance with an ambitious overhead kick, but Nathan Trott was alert to the danger and made the save.

One point each, but now Wimbledon are unbeate in three league games at home. It can give a base to build upon to secure a win sooner rather than later. With Anthony Wordsworth nearing fitness again, there will also be a boost to Downes’ midfield options.

There are so many bright spots in the team.

Nightingale has made the defence more secure; Scott Wagstaff had one of his best games in midfield and was a great link in play alongside Hartigan; Forss used his intelligence to create space for himself and others with selfless running; Nesta Guinness-Walker provided a stream of crosses from the left.

Now it is simply a question of building a pattern of play around this bedrock, and the goals and results will follow.

AFC Wimbledon (3-5-2): Trott 7, O’Neill 5, Nightingale 7, Kalambayi 7, Delaney 7, Guinness-Walker 7, Wagstaff 7, Hartigan 7, Reilly 6 (Sanders 74), Forss 7 (Roscrow 79), Pigott 6 (Folivi 79). Not used: Tzaenv, Appiah, Rudoni, Osew.

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