Wimbledon turned the form book on its head at Adams Park this afternoon as Neal Ardley’s men marched into the FA Cup third round.
Sean Rigg rewarded the 1,035 Dons fans who made the trip by netting the winner and Wimbledon were full value for the 1-0 victory that puts them into Monday night’s live draw. It was a performance far removed from Wimbledon’s tame defeat at the hands of the League 2 leaders in October.
Neal Ardley made three changes to his starting line-up after defeat to Cambridge United with a significant inclusion at the back as on-loan defender Jake Goodman was preferred to Alan Bennett. Callum Kennedy was rewarded for his impressive display for the development side at Luton in midweek with a starting berth in place of the injured Jack Smith and George Francomb was preferred to Frankie Sutherland. Goodman was hoping for a better FA Cup experience today after mentioning during the build-up that he was part of an Aldershot side beaten by Shortwood United in the competition last season.
Buoyed on by a vocal travelling Dons army, Wimbledon made a rapid start that took Wycombe by surprise and they so nearly marched ahead inside the first minute. A looping header from Matt Tubbs was just over the crossbar after Sean Rigg had flicked on Barry Fuller’s cross. Seconds later, penalty appeals from Wimbledon were waved away by referee Chris Kavanagh after a challenge by Joe Jacobson on Tubbs. It was a start that offered plenty of encouragement for the Dons to put on a better show for their fans than when they last visited Adams Park.
Wycombe recovered their composure after that early Wimbledon charge and started to show the high intensity that proved too much for the Dons in October. Following a quickly taken free-kick, James Shea was required to make a fine reaction save to turn away a deflected effort from Max Kretzschmar. As the half hour mark approached, there had been little goalmouth action, but Wimbledon had defended very well so far and had offered fleeting moments of promise in attack. Bayo Akinfenwa was at the heart of one such move when he held up the ball brilliantly to set-up a shooting chance for Dannie Bulman, who had a goal-bound effort blocked.
Wimbledon showed plenty of attacking threat at the start of the second half and Tubbs had an effort ruled out for offside. However, that was only a temporary reprieve for Wycombe as Wimbledon made the breakthrough in great style in the 56thminute. Akinfenwa showed great vision to pick out Francomb, who put Rigg through and the winger steered home with an outstretched boot to put Wimbledon 1-0 up. Cue wild celebrations from the Dons travelling support behind the goal after they watched their team seize the initiative against the odds. It could have been even better minutes later when Rigg and Tubbs combined, but the striker’s clever ball just never had enough on it to put Francomb clean through.
The Dons had to withstand a spell of pressure midway through the second-half and they needed Shea to be at his best once again. First, the impressive Dons goalkeeper pulled off a fine full stretch save to turn away a drive from Josh Scowen and then he was off his line quickly to deny Paul Hayes. At the other end, Wimbledon could have sealed it when Tubbs sent over a lovely cross from the left, but Akinfenwa was unable to get enough on his finish and Wycombe goalkeeper Matt Ingram saved comfortably.
Neal Ardley made a double change with Harry Pell and Ade Azeez introduced for Francomb and Rigg. However, the Dons held on fairly comfortably in the end to make it into the third round for the first time since the rebirth of AFC Wimbledon.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Callum Kennedy (Ben Harrison), Jake Goodman, Adam Barrett, George Francomb (Harry Pell), Dannie Bulman, Sammy Moore, Sean Rigg ( Ade Azeez), Matt Tubbs, Bayo Akinfenwa.