Striker helps the Dons into Surrey Cup semi-final
Charlie Strutton scored his first goal since the FA Cup replay against York City on 12 November to earn Wimbledon a Surrey Senior Cup semi-final tie against Sutton United.
minute winner to secure a 2-1 victory for his side. It was an encouraging night for Wimbledon with Strutton staking his claim for a first-team spot after putting a knee injury behind him and Curtis Osano edging closer to full fitness by getting 90 minutes under his belt.rdStrutton cancelled out a Rob Haworth strike that had given hosts Chipstead the lead and Under-18s defender Owen Roberts capped an impressive individual performance by netting a 73
The Dons named eight first-teamers in a strong starting 11 at Chipstead with Osano, Stacy Long and Kevin Sainte-Luce among the players also involved on the night. Greg Hayden, Duvaine Lindo and Roberts were the Under-18s players handed a chance to impress Wimbledon’s first-team management from the start.
Wimbledon fashioned their first chance in the fifth minute when Sainte-Luce sped down the right wing and sent over a teasing cross that was headed just wide by Strutton. However, the Ryman Division One hosts were far from overawed and they came close to taking the lead midway through the first-half. Chris Ellis, who had already shown his prowess from long throw-ins, turned inside Kiernan and unleashed a fierce drive that had Jaimez-Ruiz beaten, but was just over the crossbar.
In an even first-half hour, Chipstead were far from second best and young Wimbledon centre-back Roberts had to be in commanding form in defence. At the other end, Jason Prior sent his strike partner Strutton racing clear and he appeared to have a decent shout for a penalty after being sent sprawling in the box, but referee Dave Sheldrake waved away the appeals.
During a competitive first-half when chances were few and far between, the match exploded into action just before the break. Chipstead drew first blood with a fine goal from the home side’s perspective. Tom Jelley sent over a good cross from the right and former Metropolitan Police striker Haworth rose highest to head home emphatically past the despairing dive of Jaimez-Ruiz. However, that setback stirred the Dons into action and they struck back on the stroke of half-time. Prior showed good vision to pick out Strutton’s run and he made no mistake from close-range to strike his first goal since the York City FA Cup replay in November. With the Minstermen next up at home on Saturday, it was perhaps ideal timing for Strutton to stake his claim for a start against York.
Wimbledon started the second-half with renewed determination to take command and they came so close to taking the lead when Strutton met Stacy Long’s free-kick with a soaring header, but his effort was just wide of the far post.
The visitors made a double change on the hour with Youssouf Bamba and Kieron Tarbie both handed opportunities to impress with Brendan Kieran and Sainte-Luce both making way. As we reached the midway point of the second-half there had been little to separate the two sides with Wimbledon struggling to break down a resolute home defence. However, Wimbledon took the lead 17 minutes from time when Stacy Long sent in another superb free-kick from the left and Roberts beat Chipstead goalkeeper Martin Grant to bundle the ball home. Though it was a fair challenge for the ball, Grant came off worse and the game was held up for six minutes while the goalkeeper received treatment and he was eventually stretchered off. Chipstead right-back Jelley was forced to replace Grant between the sticks with the hosts having no replacement goalkeeper on the bench.
Having finally taken control of the match, Wimbledon aimed to press home their advantage and George Oakley was given a chance to build on his excellent performance for the Under-18s against Crawley when he replaced Strutton with five minutes left. Prior came close to settling the issue shortly afterwards when he turned smartly and shot just wide. The hosts almost drew level in the final minute of normal time when Jason Henry attempted an ambitious volley that was just wide of the far post. Wimbledon ended the match strongly with Long, in particular, impressing in midfield with his vision and passing ability. Though the visitors did not threaten a killer third goal, Chipstead never looked like getting an equaliser and Wimbledon were worthy winners in the end.
AFC Wimbledon: Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz, Curtis Osano, Greg Hayden, Frankie Merrifield, Owen Roberts, Duvaine Lindo, Kevin Sainte-Luce (Youssouf Bamba), Stacy Long, Jason Prior, Charlie Strutton (George Oakley), Brendan Kiernan (Kieron Tarbie).