Matt Tubbs ended his recent goal drought in style tonight with his double sending Wimbledon into the second round of the FA Cup.
The Dons needed to come from behind against York to earn a tie at Wycombe Wanderers, but their second-half display fully deserved the 3-1 victory in the end. And the real bonus for the league matches to come was that Tubbs found his scoring touch again with a helping hand from strike partner Bayo Akinfenwa.
Neal Ardley selected an unchanged starting line-up with the intention of repeating Saturday’s fast start against Dagenham, but the Dons were rocked by a stunning York opener in just the fifth minute.
There had been nothing wrong with Wimbledon’s start as they initially took the game to their opponents and Bayo Akinfenwa headed wide from a George Francomb corner. However, York made the breakthrough through their very first attack and it came completely out of nothing. Wes Fletcher was fully 25 yards out when the ball fell for him, but he delivered a fierce volley that Dons goalkeeper James Shea could only help into the net after getting a hand to it.
It was a goal that completely knocked Wimbledon out of their stride and they needed last-ditch defending from Alan Bennett to stop the potential of further damage. However, York were so nearly celebrating another long-range goal when Marvin McCoy left fly with a 20-yard effort that took a wicked deflection off Adam Barrett, but bounced agonisingly wide for the visitors.
Wimbledon fashioned some promising attacking moments with Matt Tubbs, in particular, looking lively up front, but the hosts struggled to create clear-cut chances. Akinfenwa headed just over and Dannie Bulman volleyed just wide with a great long range effort. However, the Dons only really forced a sustained spell of pressure just before half-time. That resulted in desperate defending from the visitors after Tubbs had blasted a George Francomb corner towards goal, but York managed to scramble the ball clear.
With York having offered stern resistance at the back, Wimbledon needed to be sharper in their attacking play if they were to get back into this cup tie. The Dons started the second half by forcing a flurry of corners, but yet again the visitors held firm. York’s centre-back pairing of Stephane Zubar and Keith Lowe had coped well with Wimbledon’s forwards so far and a bit more craft was perhaps required if the visitors were to finally be prised open. At the other end, Wimbledon needed James Shea to make a fine save at his near post to deny Jake Hyde.
An hour had elapsed before Neal Ardley decided to change Wimbledon’s attacking shape. It was a double change too with wingers George Francomb and Sean Rigg replaced by Sammy Moore and Ade Azeez. Captain Alan Bennett tried to provide something special, but his volley from just outside the area was just off target. Then the Dons came even closer when Jack Smith delivered a lovely cross from the left that Adam Barrett headed agonisingly wide.
Azeez added another dimension to Wimbledon’s attacking play as his pace offered something completely different for York to think about. All of a sudden, the Dons were more of a threat and they were rewarded with the equaliser 19 minutes from time. Dannie Bulman picked out Akinfenwa on the left side and his flick-on fell nicely for Smith, who smashed home emphatically for a brilliant goal. It was game on now, but Wimbledon almost got caught with a sucker-punch when Michael Coulson sent a lovely ball through to Hyde, but he was denied by a brilliant save from Shea.
At this stage, it looked to be heading towards extra-time, but Wimbledon found the key to the door again in great style. Akinfenwa put his strike partner Tubbs through with a lovely piece of play and he produced a brilliant angled finish across York goalkeeper Michael Ingham.
York piled forward in search of an equaliser, but they were killed off in injury-time. York committed everyone forward for a corner, including their goalkeeper Michael Ingham, for a corner, and that proved to be their Achilles heel. The ball was cleared and it fell for Bulman, who picked out Tubbs and he marched clear, before beating a covering defender and then rolling the ball into an empty net. It was exactly what Wimbledon deserved for the manner of their second-half performance and it’s Wycombe away next.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Jack Smith, Frankie Sutherland, Adam Barrett, Alan Bennett, Sean Rigg (Ade Azeez), Dannie Bulman, Bayo Akinfenwa, Matt Tubbs, George Francomb (Sammy Moore).