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REVIEW | AFC Wimbledon 1-1 Wrexham AFC

The first point on the scoreboard, after a draw against AFC Wimbledon

13 August 2023

Feature

REVIEW | AFC Wimbledon 1-1 Wrexham AFC

The first point on the scoreboard, after a draw against AFC Wimbledon

13 August 2023

In the face of two penalties, Wrexham left Wimbledon with a point; their first of the League Two campaign.

The first away day of the season would see the Red Dragons travel to London, off the back of the Carabao Cup victory against Wigan Athletic on penalties.  

There were many positive signs against the Latics that minutes and sharpness were starting to flow through the legs of the Wrexham squad, and so a good performance against the Wombles would have been expected. 

There would be two debutants for Phil Parkinson, with Will Boyle and James McClean entering the starting eleven. 

It was the classic start for an away side, as Wrexham survived the early home pressure to good effect, and could thus start to play their way into the game. 

Triangles were starting to prevail for the Red Dragons, with Boyle striding forwards from left centre back to link with the likes of Jacob Mendy and Lee. 

One sequence would eventually see the ball lofted over by Ben Tozer, allowing Mendy to triumph in a 50/50 up against Isaac Ogundere. 

Taking on Mendy in a footrace is a battle to lose, and it almost looked like he lost it with himself, as the ball fizzed towards the by-line. However, he was able to hook the ball back, in full awareness that Lee was running in with him. 

With composure, Lee stabbed the ball into the far corner with the side of his foot, aided by a deflection off the diving Joe Lewis in a last-ditch attempt to block the shot.  

With Ollie Palmer as the sole striker, McClean and Elliot Lee would act as attacking midfielders playing off the shoulder. McClean looked beyond comfortable in taking the ball down and running through pockets of space, but this didn’t equate to a flurry of opportunities. 

The lack of chances was not necessarily a worry, as taking the lead into the interval as an away side can only be a positive. 

The second half commenced in the same fashion, with Wrexham trying to move up the field through the hold-up play of the forwards. 

However, chances for the home side were starting to centre around Omar Bugiel and he would eventually win the first penalty for the Dons in the 65th minute. Boyle tugged at his shirt after a corner had been taken, and referee, Darren Drysdale, deemed this sufficient enough for a penalty. 

Just as he did in the famous game against Notts County last season, Ben Foster dived to his right and clawed out the low penalty from Ali Al-Hamadi to keep the Wrexham lead intact. 

The home side were gaining confidence in their forward play though, and it felt as though something had to give in the scoreline. 

The whistle of Drysdale would be the deciding factor in this, as he blew for a second Wimbledon penalty in the 80th minute. 

Contact on the top of substitute Harry Pell’s back from Eoghan O’Connell was enough for the referee to blow his whistle, in what felt a very soft decision to award. 

James Tilley would make no mistake from the spot, as he rifled the ball high into the net to level the score. 

The subsequent triple substitution from Parkinson forced drastic changes to the game, to which he was vying to make a fair few minutes before the equaliser. 

Sam Dalby, Anthony Forde and Luke Young all had their chances to put the Red Dragons back into the lead, with Dalby’s point-blank header going over the bar being the pick of the bunch. 

Mendy had been superb on the left-flank all game, and having McClean there in the last 15 minutes worked wonders too, but it was the urgency in the play that tilted the balance of the game on its head.  

It was a constant feature of last season to see Wrexham step up their game in the second half of an away fixture, and the final 15 minutes felt no different. 

A fairytale ending almost came for Young in the 95th minute, on his two hundredth league appearance, but Alex Bass did enough to fend away his thunderbolt effort.  

Although three points looked to be so close at the end in the Cherry Red Records Stadium, a point on the road and our first of the season is a positive. 

The defensive trio of Boyle, Tozer and O’Connell looked stable and solid, and Mendy’s attacking force down the left-wing continues to grow as a threat week on week. 

Wrexham will welcome Walsall to the STōK Cae Ras on Tuesday, and with performances improving, a first league win of the season is in sight. 

 


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