Oxford United ended their pre-season fixtures with a 0-0 draw at AFC Wimbledon this afternoon
United gave new faces a chance and created the better chances but couldn't find a way past the Dons defence, with Cameron Brannagan's saved penalty the best chance of the game.
Karl Robinson gave new signing Stuart Findlay a debut in a defence that featured the fit-again duo of captain Elliott Moore and Sam Long. Findlay looked assured as the left-sided centre-half and showed a good understanding with Steve Seddon as well as a willingness to bring the ball out of defence.
The Scot also had United’s first chance, guiding a header over the top after eight minutes of an opening half where United created most of the chances.
Long came closest to breaking the early deadlock when his cross flew off a defender and was dipping under the bar until keeper Nik Tzanev tipped it over, but the best move of the half came on 43 as the excellent Marcus McGuane zipped a ball into Billy Bodin who took one touch then forced Tzanev into an even better save from 20 yards out.
Half time saw Jack Stevens replace the underworked Simon Eastwood and Yanic Wildschut come on for his first appearance, while new face Josh Murphy replaced trialist Jodi Jones.
That allowed Marcus Browne to switch to a deeper role in a 4-2-3-1 shape and his ability to run at defenders immediately caused problems.
Seven minutes into the second half Wildschut was baulked but Browne picked up the loose ball and was tripped by Dons skipper Alex Pearce. Brannagan sadly proved that he IS fallible from the spot, Tzanev plunging to his right to save.
Wildschut powered past defenders and will be a major threat, but this was to be merely a cameo with the Suriname international limping off just after the hour mark, hopefully a precaution ahead of next week's first league game.
Wimbledon had a late chance through Isaac Ogundere but Stevens got down well to keep the clean sheet intact; results don't matter but little things like that always help.
As is so often the case, changes and substitutions took the sting out of the game for the final quarter, although there was a welcome return for Alex Gorrin for his first minutes of the summer after a knee injury.
He, like the rest of the squad, will be hoping for the nod when the real action starts at Derby next weekend. I have seen every minute of pre-season and still have no idea who will start. But I also know there will be over 3,000 Oxford fans there making a hell of a noise and a spectacle.
Eastwood (Stevens 46), Long (Forde 71), Moore, Findlay (Brown 86), Seddon, McGuane, Brannagan, Bodin (Murphy 46), Jones (Wildschut 46, (Henry 63)), Taylor (Sinclair 71), Browne (Gorrin 71)
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Edmunds and Darrell Fisher