Captain edges his side into next round
A dramatic winner from captain Will Nightingale earned Wimbledon a place in the next round of the Premier League Cup.
Nightingale (pictured) headed home to finally end Bournemouth’s resistance and secure a last-gasp 1-0 win for Wimbledon in the competition for Under-21 teams. The goal two minutes from time secured a tie at Charlton Athletic in the next round.
Wimbledon fielded two over age players in their starting 11 with Mark Phillips offering experience at the back and Jake Nicholson slotting into midfield. Kevin Sainte-Luce was the other first-teamer involved in a starting 11 that included trialists for the Under-21s and a place for Under-18 full-back Callum Wilson.
The Dons made a bright start with Chace Jacquart firing just over the crossbar and then Kevin Sainte-Luce had a penalty appeal turned down after a fine solo run.
Jake Nicholson was at the heart of Wimbledon’s best moves in the first-half as he pulled the strings in midfield and supported lone front man Sainte-Luce. Nicholson almost opened the scoring with a fine effort from 20 yards, but his shot flashed wide of Bournemouth goalkeeper Jordan Holmes’ near post. Wimbledon’s best chance of the first-half was instigated by captain Will Nightingale. The young defender won possession and picked out Sainte-Luce, who fed Jacquart, but his shot was too close to Holmes.
Wimbledon had controlled the first-half, but Bournemouth offered fleeting moments of threat. Dons goalkeeper Joe McDonnell needed to be alert to hold onto an effort from Harrison Gilkes. The visitors came more into it as the first-half progressed and Gilkes fired just wide with a powerful 25-yard drive. However, Bournemouth came closest to making the breakthrough a couple of minutes before half-time when McDonnell was required to make a flying save to beat away a fierce shot from Josh Carmichael.
The Dons cranked up the pressure on Bournemouth after half-time and they threatened to break the deadlock. Trialist Andy Robinson, who impressed in midfield, started a flowing move that ended with Chaquart setting up a shooting chance for Nicholson, who struck a fierce shot just wide. Then Jacquart managed to wriggle his way through the Bournemouth defence to go clean through, but he was denied by Holmes.
There was concern for Wimbledon just after the hour when Nicholson was on the receiving end of a crunching challenge that left him needing treatment for a few minutes. Thankfully, Nicholson was fine to continue, but he was withdrawn shortly afterwards with Under-18 Dan Gallagher replacing him. Wimbledon came so close to taking the lead with 20 minutes left when Robinson’s free-kick was deflected just wide. Alan Reeves made a change with 12 minutes left in an effort to snatch a late winner with Dan Agyei replacing Jordan Adekunle.
Sainte-Luce continued to offer plenty of threat for Wimbledon in the latter stages. The flying winger burst through and produced a fierce drive that beat Holmes, but flashed just wide. The game appeared to be heading towards extra-time after that, but there was a dramatic conclusion still to come. Jacquart put over a teasing corner and Nightingale rose highest to power home an emphatic header that left Holmes with no chance. The Dons threatened to make it safe when trialist David Fitzpatrick burst through, but a last-gasp challenge stopped him in his tracks. However, one was enough in the end and Wimbledon were full value for their place in the next round.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, George Pilbeam, Callum Wilson, Andy Robinson, Will Nightingale, Mark Phillips, David Fitzpatrick, Jake Nicholson (Dan Gallagher), Kevin Sainte-Luce, Chace Jacquart, Jordan Adekunle (Dan Agyei).