Dons edge out York in last minute
The Dons snatched all three points in dramatic style this afternoon with a winner from Jack Smith in the final minute of normal time.
Smith (pictured) found the top corner with a great strike from outside the area to earn a 2-1 win just when it looked like being another afternoon of frustration for Wimbledon.
Wimbledon had earlier ended their three-match scoring drought with a fine header from Deji Oshilaja, before they conceded a sloppy goal just before half-time.
Neal Ardley made four changes to his starting 11 after the battling draw against Southend United on Saturday. George Francomb was brought straight back in to utilise his creativity on the right with Tom Beere making way. Mark Phillips was handed a chance at centre-back in place of the ineligible Dave Winfield with Barry Fuller and Ade Azeez also offered starting roles in place of Callum Kennedy and Craig Tanner.
Having won 3-0 at Cambridge last time, York unsurprisingly started confidently in the early exchanges. Wes Fletcher, who scored in the FA Cup replay here in November, got the better of Phillips and struck a shot that Joe McDonnell was forced to turn behind at his near post. There was a blow for the visitors shortly afterwards though when Fletcher had to go off injured and Emile Sinclair entered the fray.
The Dons had struggled to find attacking rhythm early on, but their very first effort on target was rewarded with an opening goal. Francomb sent over a fine delivery from a corner and Deji Oshilaja met it with a powerful header that bounced off the turf and just beat York goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik. That was the signal for Wimbledon to show more attacking fluency and Bayo Akinfenwa’s attempted lob sailed just wide of the goal. Francomb’s crossing from the right offered a useful attacking weapon and Ade Azeez headed another one of his deliveries just wide.
With York having offered little attacking threat, Wimbledon appeared good value for a half-time lead, but the visitors equalised three minutes before half-time. Sinclair got down the right and his cross resulted in a goalmouth scramble and after McDonnell failed to gather, Jake Hyde squeezed it in. It was a big blow for Wimbledon to concede in such circumstances just before half-time.
Buoyed by that equaliser, York started the second half on top and it needed McDonnell to make a fine save to tip over a looping header from Hyde after a cross from Malvind Benning. The Dons were fortunate to survive seven minutes after half-time when Sinclair missed a gilt-edged chance. The substitute, who once scored a hat-trick against Wimbledon for Macclesfield, beat Phillips to a through ball and rounded McDonnell, but he shot into the side netting with the goal gaping.
It was now end to end stuff with both sides really going for it. Ade Azeez was particularly lively in the second half and he twice came close in quick succession. First, the striker had an effort tipped around the post by Olejnik and then his soaring header from a Francomb corner flashed just wide. Neal Ardley made a change after the hour with Sean Rigg introduced for Potter on the left flank.
Craig Tanner was also introduced for Ade Azeez as Wimbledon struggled to unlock York’s defence. However, the Dons piled everything forward in a determined push for the winner and it subsequently arrived in the final minute of normal time. Francomb’s cross was diverted into Smith’s path by Tanner and the full-back struck a fierce drive that had Olejnik rooted to the spot as it soared into the top corner. There was still time for Hyde to force McDonnell into a decent save in injury-time, but the Dons held on for a victory that pushes them closer to the top 10.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Barry Fuller, Jack Smith, Dannie Bulman, Deji Oshilaja, Mark Phillips, George Francomb, Jake Reeves, Ade Azeez (Craig Tanner), Bayo Akinfenwa, Alfie Potter (Sean Rigg).