Young Dons march on after late winner
Substitute Egli Kaja rewarded a young AFC Wimbledon squad for their resilience with his dramatic extra-time winner firing the Dons into a London Senior Cup Final in May.
minute volley finding the back of the net to end the brave resistance of Cray Valley Paper Mills.thSixteen-year-old Kaja (pictured) struck in the nick of time with his 118
The last-gasp winner earned a 2-1 victory that set-up a final date in May against either Wingate & Finchley or Metropolitan Police.
AFC Wimbledon fielded a side consisting almost entirely of Under-21 players at Cray Valley tonight with goalkeeper Seb Brown as the only senior player in their line-up. Jim Fenlon was given an opportunity to increase his match sharpness and it was a test of his versatility too as he started at centre-back.
minute, but he shot wide from outside the box. Then the visitors put together their best move so far when Harry Cooksley burst down the left flank and sent over an excellent cross that Tom Beere headed just wide.thThe Dons were up against a side currently playing in the Southern Counties East League and they wasted no time attempting to spray the ball around early on. However, it was no easy task on a bobbly pitch and Wimbledon had the disadvantage of playing up the slope in the first-half. Chace Jacquart had the first attempt at goal in the 15
minute and it was no surprise that Jacquart was the man to do it after his impressive start. Fenlon played a big part in the goal as he received a short corner from Charlie Fayers before delivering a lovely cross that picked out Jacquart and the midfielder found the top corner with a superb finish.thWimbledon made the breakthrough in fine style in the 28
It was so nearly 2-0 just a few minutes later when Pearse sent through a sublime defence-splitting pass that put George Oakley through, but his effort was cleared off the line after he had beaten Cray goalkeeper Matt Bailey. At this stage, Wimbledon were spreading the ball around effectively with excellent movement and it appeared to be a case of how many. However, the hosts threatened to make a game of it just before the break. First, Lauren Hamici shot over the crossbar from close range after Kieron Tarbie had cleared off the line and then Seb Brown had to palm away a dangerous free-kick by Adam Gross.
minute with an equaliser. Hamici broke free down the right and sent over a cross that took a deflection and deceived Seb Brown at his near post to find the back of the net. Wimbledon responded well to that setback with the impressive Jacquart at the heart of all their best moves. After firing just wide himself from Beere’s pull-back, Jacquart found Oakley in space and the Dons forward produced a lovely turn before firing just wide.stThe hosts started with a determination to get back into it and they were rewarded in the 51
Shaun North decided to make a change midway through the second-half when he introduced 16-year-old Kaja in attack with Fayers making way for him. Kaja wasted no time attempting to make an impression when he burst through two or three challenges and he fired over the bar from just outside the area. The Dons made a change that was enforced with 15 minutes to play when Oakley was withdrawn through injury and that meant an opportunity for Dan Agyei.
Wimbledon were so nearly back in front 11 minutes from time and it was Agyei that almost made the difference when he made space for himself with a lovely turn, but his shot was deflected just wide. Agyei came even closer minutes later when he turned inside and unleashed a ferocious effort that flashed just wide.
The Dons surged forward in search of a late winner, but Cray defended resolutely and they produced plenty of last-ditch clearances to deny Wimbledon. When Pearse shot just wide with a minute to go, Wimbledon’s last chance to win in normal time was gone and it was onto extra-time.
Seb Brown was required to make the first save of extra-time when he produced a superb fingertip stop to deny Cray captain Jamie Wood. However, Jacquart began to dictate matters in midfield once again and he almost conjured up what would have been a superb individual goal. Picking the ball up on the halfway line, Jacquart jinked in and out of several challenges before curling just off target. Wimbledon’s superior fitness was now beginning to show and they came so close to a second goal when Jacquart picked out Beere and his excellent curling effort bounced off a post.
minute. Beere’s teasing delivery from the corner got the finish it deserved when Kaja volleyed in at the near post and the ecstatic celebrations showed exactly what it all meant for the young Dons.thIt appeared that the two sides were going to need a penalty shoot-out to separate them, but Kaja provided the edge in dramatic fashion in the 118
AFC Wimbledon: Seb Brown, Kieron Tarbie, Charlie Fayers (Egli Kaja), Dan Pearse, Oluseyi Daley, Jim Fenlon, Tom Beere, Rob Switon (Ryan Sweeney), George Oakley (Dan Agyei), Chace Jacquart, Harry Cooksley.