AFC Wimbledon 0-0 Ipswich Town: Frustration for Lambert’s men as chances go begging at Kingsmeadow
It was a night of frustration on the Blues first visit to AFC Wimbledon as Paul Lambert’s men failed to find a way through as the game ended scoreless.
The Blues, who headed into this game on the back of three successive defeats to promotion rivals, dominated possession throughout but, when the big moments came in the final third, weren't able to convert.
James Norwood had the bulk of the chances, rattling the bar towards the end of the first half and then forcing two good saves from goalkeeper Joe Day, who then had to extend himself fully to tip substitute Will Keane's effort over the top of the crossbar.
They kept probing against a Wimbledon side who offered little in an attacking sense until the closing stages, but the breakthrough never came as Paul Lambert's men drew a blank in a game they will think they should have won. The fact they didn't can be put down to a lack of creativity as they looked to break down their opponent as well as a lack of cutting edge when their chances did arrive.
The result leaves Ipswich seventh in the League One table, with the three sides above them and the hunting pack below all having at least one game in hand.
Lambert made three changes to his side, with Josh Earl coming in at left wing-back for his first Ipswich start and Emyr Huws and Kayden both returning to the side in place of Jon Nolan and Will Keane.
There was barely an inch to spare inside the 4,800 capacity ground, with fans packed into all-four sides and the 700 visiting supporters taking up residence behind Lambert's bench.
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They had little to cheer during the early minutes as both sides felt their way into the contest in midfield, with captain Luke Chambers needing to come across and bravely clear up with his head to stop Mitch Pinnock from nipping in toward goal.
Cole Skuse was quick to block Joe Pigott's shot after Luke Woolfenden had coughed up possession on the edge of his own area, as Wimbledon had the real effort on goal of the evening.
There was a cagey feel about the opening to this game, given the stakes, with both sides looking nervous at the prospect of making the first real mistake, as the contest lacked quality throughout the first 15 minutes.
The second 15 passed with little incident but with plenty of possession for the visitors, with Wimbledon perfectly happy for Lambert's men to knock the ball around across their own backline and then work it into midfield, before then smothering any Ipswich attempt to move the ball into the final third.
That pattern continued before Emyr Huws lined up a free-kick, with his low shot deflected wide for a corner which Norwood ultimately met with power as he sent his volley crashing off the crossbar. The ball bounced down to the striker, just beyond the penalty spot, but Town's No.10 couldn't hit it cleanly as his scuffed effort brought on a bout of pinball in the Dons' box before the hosts ultimately managed to scramble clear.
That's as close as the Blues came before the first half came to a close, with the Blues having 67 per cent of possession, with the same pattern continuing at the start of the second period as the visitors probed away without being able to break through the Wimbledon lines.
Kayden Jackson wanted a penalty when defender Rod McDonald turned his low shot round the post for a corner which, once again, dropped to Norwood for the striker to force a good low save from Day in the Wimbledon goal.
Norwood's next opening saw him hit a low free-kick tamely into the bottom of the wall, after Huws was fouled, before Flynn Downes made an excellent late run into the box to meet Jackson's pull-back, only to see his shot blocked by Luke O'Neill.
The striker was in the thick of the action in the second half and made another opportunity for himself, winning the ball back, poking it round his man and charging towards goal, only for his attempted finish to be smothered by Day as the ball was blocked away.
That was Norwood's last act, as Keane replaced him, with the former Hull man turning a Jackson cross straight at Day and then forcing a stunning save from the Wimbledon goalkeeper within minutes of coming on.
Freddie Sears was the next man sent on in search of a goal, as he replaced Earl, with the substitute curling a free-kick which Day had to turn away, with what was Ipswich's last effort of the game.
Next up is Saturday's visit of Burton Albion.
AFC Wimbledon: Day; Thomas, McDonald, O'Neill; McLoughlin, Hartigan, Reilly (Wagstaff, 70), Sanders (Rudoni, 86), Osew; Pinnock, Pigott
Subs: Trott, Roscrow, Lamy, Guinness-Walker, Wood
Ipswich Town: Holy; Chambers, Wilson, Woolfenden; Donacien, Earl (Sears, 81); Skuse, Downes, Huws; Norwood (Keane, 70), Jackson
Subs: Norris, Kenlock, Nolan, Dozzell, Judge
Att: 4,745 (789 Ipswich fans)