Extra-time defeat after dramatic equaliser
AFC Wimbledon bowed out of the Under-21 Premier League Cup in gallant fashion at Home Park today.
Tom Beere (pictured above) marked his return after two weeks out injured with a dramatic last-gasp leveller to force extra-time, but Plymouth triumphed 2-1 in extra-time. The nature of Plymouth’s winner was tough to take too as Joe McDonnell produced a brilliant penalty save to deny Tyler Harvey, but the Argyle striker reacted first to steer home what turned out to be the winner.
Alan Reeves included three players who were on the bench for the first-team at Yeovil Town on Saturday with Ryan Sweeney, Tom Beere and Dan Gallagher all involved. Plymouth included two players with first-team experience as Ben Purrington and Tyler Harvey were in the starting 11.
The Dons established good early possession with Gallagher and Beere getting on the ball in central midfield. Chances were few and far between in the first half hour as Wimbledon struggled to recapture the attacking fluency that had been such a feature in the wins against Cambridge United and AFC Bournemouth. Wimbledon’s best chance in the first third of the match came when trialist Ibrahim Akandi latched onto a Ben Harrison through ball and beat Plymouth goalkeeper Cory Harvey, but Jordan Bentley got back to clear off the line.
Wimbledon had perhaps shaded the first half hour and Oakley also tried his luck with a decent 25-yard effort that was just over. However, Plymouth really came into it in the last 15 minutes of the first-half with a spell that eventually earned them the lead. Joe McDonnell had to be alert to gather a dangerous cross from Purrington and then Tyler Harvey struck a decent effort from an acute angle that the Wimbledon goalkeeper tipped wide.
minute though when Callum Hall put over a lovely ball from the left wing and Purrington headed home from close range. It could have been worse for Wimbledon as Tyler Harvey beat McDonnell with a powerful effort, but the ball bounced off a post. With Wimbledon’s youngsters having come nowhere near to matching the levels of their performances at Cambridge and Bournemouth, it was likely that they were on the receiving end of one or two choice words from Alan Reeves at half-time.thThere was no reprieve for Wimbledon in the 39
The Dons made a much brighter start after the break and within two minutes it could have been 1-1 when Fitzpatrick sent over a lovely cross from the left to find trialist Ibrahim Akandi just six yards out, but his header was brilliantly saved at point-blank range by Cory Harvey. With Wimbledon starting to swarm forward in numbers, Callum Wilson started to get forward effectively from right full-back and he sent over a lovely cross from the right that just eluded everyone in the box.
minute with Jason Stripp entering the fray for Akandi. It didn’t take long for Stripp, who made a fine impression against Bournemouth last week, to have an impact. The midfielder linked up well with Fitzpatrick and sent over a lovely cross that deserved a goal, but no one could get on the end of it.ndAlan Reeves made a change in the 62
There was another change for the Dons 20 minutes from time with Neset Bellikli replacing Oakley. That meant there was plenty of width down the flanks with Fitzpatrick switching to the right side and Bellikli occupying the left side. Good chances followed for Wimbledon and twice the Dons were only denied by great saves from Plymouth goalkeeper Cory Harvey. First, Egli Kaja powered through impressively, but Harvey got down well to save, and then Beere was also denied.
With Wimbledon getting forward in numbers, gaps started to open up at the back and Plymouth almost killed off the Dons. Tyler Harvey struck the woodwork for the second time with a fierce effort that came back off a post and then McDonnell reacted superbly to keep out a powerful header from Plymouth substitute Alex Fletcher.
However, Wimbledon refused to give up and the reward of an equaliser for their improved second half came deep into injury-time. Fitzpatrick got down the right wing and delivered a cross that Gallagher flicked into the path of Beere and he finished superbly to force extra-time.
The Dons made a final change at the start of extra-time with Reece Batchelor entering the fray for Callum Wilson. Plymouth started extra-time on the front foot and they restored their lead 10 minutes in. Sweeney brought down Purrington in the box and though McDonnell produced a brilliant full stretch save to deny Tyler Harvey from the subsequent spot-kick, the Plymouth forward reacted first to stab home.
Still Wimbledon refused to accept defeat and it was so nearly level just a minute later when Fitzpatrick released Beere and he was denied by another fine save from Cory Harvey. Beere was everywhere too in the second period of extra-time as he drove forward in search of an equaliser for the Dons. Another fine run from the 20-year-old midfielder ended with a shot that this time was just too high.
Chances continued to arrive for the Dons as we entered the final five minutes. A cross from Neset Bellikli was almost diverted into the net by a Plymouth defender and then trialist Reiss Greenidge headed a free header over from a corner.
Beere also fired over as the Dons marched forward in desperate pursuit of an equaliser, but it was just not to be and Wimbledon will be aiming to get back on track in the Final Third Development League Cup against Luton next Tuesday.
AFC Wimbledon: Joe McDonnell, Callum Wilson (Reece Batchelor), Ben Harrison, Ryan Sweeney, Reiss Greenidge, Dan Gallagher, Egli Kaja, Tom Beere, George Oakley (Neset Bellikli), Ibrahim Akandi (Jason Stripp), David Fitzpatrick.