Dons youngsters knocked out by Cheltenham
Wimbledon Under-18s bowed out of the FA Youth Cup in gallant fashion tonight after coming so close to going through with 10 men.
Zack Kotwica broke Wimbledon hearts by making it 2-2 at the death though and he added two more in extra-time as Cheltenham made the most of their one-man advantage after captain Dan Pearse (pictured) had been sent off. The 5-2 scoreline in Cheltenham’s favour after extra-time failed to do Wimbledon justice as they were just two minutes away from a third round tie and a clash against Spurs after a superb double from Yousef Bamba.
Cheltenham started the brighter and Wimbledon needed goalkeeper Jack Greenaway to make a flying early save as he dived to his left to turn away a fierce Harry Williams drive from 25 yards.
However, with the wind at their backs, Wimbledon wasted no time getting forward themselves and a speculative free-kick from Pearse almost looped into the net, but Cheltenham goalkeeper Dale Reaney just got back to tip over.
adjudged to have just crossed the line. It almost got worse for the Dons shortly afterwards when Robbie Dale was left unmarked in the box, but he headed just over the crossbar. Wimbledon suffered a setback 10 minutes before the break when number one Greenaway had to go off injured and he was replaced between the sticks by Billy Bishop. minute though when Bamba scored his second goal in two games with a superb individual goal. The flying winger, who only made his debut in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Aldershot, latched onto a Charlie Fayers through ball on the right, before skipping past two challenges and then finishing clinically from close range. The Dons proved to be most vulnerable after they had scored though and less than three minutes later Cheltenham were level when Spencer Hamilton got the final touch to a corner and the ball wasthReaney could do nothing about Wimbledon’s opener in the 20
Though the visitors had slightly edged it on chances created, there was plenty to enthuse about from a Wimbledon perspective. With Pearse and Chase Jacquart pulling the strings in midfield and the likes of Fayers, Bamba and Sam Baffour providing a cutting edge, the Dons were on top as the first-half came to a close.
The Dons suffered a blow 10 minutes into the second-half when Pearse was red carded by referee Chris O’Donnell, a decision that appeared to be harsh on the Wimbledon captain. Despite, the one man disadvantage, the hosts more than held their own as Cheltenham struggled to make an impression as an attacking force. When they did manage to get forward, Wimbledon continued to cause problems and they were perhaps unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Bamba was sent sprawling in the box.
And having limited Cheltenham to virtually nothing since the sending off, Wimbledon grabbed the initiative in stunning style through that man Bamba. The same combination proved to be a potent weapon for Wimbledon once again as Fayers sent through a lovely ball that Bamba controlled expertly and then finished clinically past Reaney.
However, just when the Dons appeared to be marching into the third round, there was a sting in the tail two minutes from time when they only half cleared a cross and Kotwica struck a powerful drive that left Bishop with no chance.
minute when Joe Hanks turned superbly and struck a shot from just outside the area that went in via a post. Despite being 4-2 down with 10 men, the Dons refused to let their heads go down and they almost earned a lifeline when Jacquart was denied by a fine save from Reaney. Substitute Basker was then also denied by Reaney as Wimbledon refused to go down without a fight. That was Wimbledon’s last chance though and at a time when the hosts were reduced to nine men with George Oakley having hobbled off, Kotwicka took full advantage by powering through the Dons defence and firing home emphatically.thWith the match now entering extra-time, it did not take long for the one-man advantage to pay off as Kotwica struck his second from close range after another cross from Owen Donaghue. It got worse for the Dons in the 96
AFC Wimbledon: Jack Greenaway (Billy Bishop 35), Greg Hayden (Harlen Basker 95), Matt Cunnington, Oluyesi Daley, Owen Roberts, Dan Pearse, Sam Baffour (Kieran Tarbie 60), Chace Jacquart, George Oakley, Charlie Fayers, Yousef Bamba.