REPORT: MK Dons 0-0 AFC Wimbledon - Stale derby ends goalless
MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon recorded their first ever draw in a tame 0-0 at Stadium MK on Saturday.
Dubbed 'the biggest game of the season' by Dons boss Robbie Neilson in the build-up, neither side deserved to come out as winners, with chances few and far between as both sides battle against the League 1 drop.
Northampton's fine win away at Bradford means Dons are now just a point above the relegation zone with a trip to Sixfields next Saturday.
Heading into the biggest game of the season, Robbie Neilson was without three key men and his latest signing. Joe Walsh and Scott Golbourne both missed out through injury, Osman Sow was serving the third game of his suspension, while Ike Ugbo was unavailable for selection. It meant Kieran Agard came into the side to start up front alongside Robbie Muirhead, with Scott Wootton and skipper Alex Gilbey also returning.
In a typically frantic opening, both sides should have been on the scoresheet inside seven minutes. Conor McGrandles first forced a good save from Joe McDonnell - a late change in goal for AFC after George Long was taken ill - after getting on the end of Chuks Aneke's hook into the box. Then Andy Barcham hit the post from a tight angle, forcing Ethan Ebanks-Landell cleared off the line at the other end as the visitors came close.
There was little settling in the game, with both sides knowing the importance of the result in terms of rivalry and league position. But it was the visitors who had the better chances in the opening half hour, with Lyle Taylor squandering a chance before Cody McDonald fired into the side netting.
At the other end, Dons didn't see much of the ball, though Aneke took too long when given a sight of goal and allowed Darius Charles the opportunity to throw himself in front of the eventual strike.
While neither side really deserved the lead going in at the break, McDonnell would finish the busier of the two keepers, diving at full stretch to keep out Robbie Muirhead's spectacular effort from the corner of the box.
The toing and froing continued into the second period, though for all the huffing and puffing, there was little end product. Both sides looked good until they reached the penalty area, but sheer volume of bodies back meant it was tough to get anything on goal without a block or deflection.
Even with both sides making changes, it made little difference to the landscape, though midfield play went the way of the dodo in the latter stages as the game flew from box to box. The best chance of the lot fell to Barcham with four minutes to go, but despite having the whole goal to aim at, fired tamely at Nicholls.
Referee: Paul Tierney
MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Wootton, Ebanks-Landell, Brittain, Gilbey, Cisse, McGrandles (Pawlett 65), Agard (Thomas-Asante 80), Muirhead (Nombe 65), Aneke
Subs not used: Sietsma, Upson, Seager, Kasumu
AFC Wimbledon: McDonnell, Fuller, Oshilaja, Francomb (Meades 71), Abdou, McDonald (Forrester 76), Trotter, Barcham, Soares, Charles, Taylor
Subs not used: Sibbick, Nightingale, Kaja, Kennedy, Hartigan