Dons win amazing cup tie
AFC Wimbledon came back from the dead in dramatic fashion today with Neal Ardley’s men winning a seven-goal thriller.
At 3-0 down just after the hour, it looked all over, but a double from Tom Elliott and goals from Dominic Poleon and Tyrone Barnett earned a 4-3 win.
The winner deep into injury-time from Elliott sent the 480 travelling Dons into raptures as Wimbledon secured a place in the Emirates FA Cup third round in front of the BT Sport cameras.
Neal Ardley made four changes to his starting line-up from the side that started against Fleetwood Town. Barry Fuller and Jon Meades were restored in the full-back positions after both returned from suspensions with George Francomb and Seth Owens on the bench. Up front, Lyle Taylor and Tom Elliott were recalled in place of Chris Whelpdale and Tyrone Barnett.
Wimbledon endured the worst possible start as Curzon Ashton marched into the lead after just 32 seconds with a stunning goal. After Wimbledon gave the ball away from kick-off, former Liverpool forward Adam Morgan was allowed time to try his luck from 30 yards and he let fly with a brilliant strike that arrowed into the top corner. In response, Wimbledon came so close to an equaliser. Taylor latched onto a half cleared corner and struck a fierce low drive that Dominic Poleon diverted over the crossbar.
minute. Joe Guest got down the left and delivered a cross that Morgan steered home from close range.stWith Neal Ardley’s men struggling to make the most of almost total possession and Curzon breaking to good effect, it did not look good for Wimbledon and it was 2-0 in the 21 A chance for Wimbledon to equalise was far from a sign of what was to come though as Curzon Ashton belied the three-division gap between the two teams. Niall Cummins got behind Wimbledon’s defence and beat James Shea in a race for the ball, but Chris Robertson got back to clear his lob. Then Luke Clarke curled just wide after a quick corner routine. At this stage, Wimbledon had struggled to get a grip on the game.
At 2-0 down midway through the first-half, the classic cup upset was on in front of the BT Sport cameras. As the half-time whistle approached, Wimbledon at last started to create chances. Elliott appeared to have reduced the arrears with a powerful strike, but goalkeeper Hakan Burton just managed to get a finger to it. Then Jake Reeves cut inside and fired in a shot that Burton failed to claim, but Curzon just managed to clear before Taylor could get there.
With a two-goal deficit at half-time, it was a similar scenario to the first game at Bury in the last round and the Dons needed a response of equal proportions to avoid being on the receiving end of a big cup upset. There was more urgency from Wimbledon at the start of the second-half and a good move ended with Elliott finding space on the right, but his cross drifted over the crossbar. As Wimbledon played towards the goal with Dons supporters behind it, Jake Reeves came so close to reducing the arrears when he produced a lovely curler that Burton tipped over superbly.
Just before the hour, Wimbledon had perhaps their best chance so far. Elliott won a header and after Meades flicked it on, Taylor was in the clear, but he scuffed his shot wide. Two minutes later, Curzon punished Wimbledon with another breakaway goal. Left-back Guest, who had impressed all game with his darting runs, beat Barry Fuller and sent over a lovely cross that was finished brilliantly by Morgan for his hat-trick.
Startled by the 3-0 scoreline, Wimbledon had no time to feel sorry for themselves if they were to stay in the cup. Curzon were proving to be a tough nut to crack though as they refused to give Wimbledon any chance to get back into the game. An example of that was when Chris Robertson was unable to force the ball over the line from a corner, Curzon defending valiantly to scramble the ball clear.
However, the Dons did get one back 10 minutes from time when Elliott steered home from close range after Curzon had failed to deal with a corner swept in by Jake Reeves. All of a sudden, Wimbledon sensed an FA Cup lifeline and just a minute later it was 3-2 when Poleon reacted sharply to fire home emphatically after another corner. There was even better to come for Wimbledon when substitute Barnett rose highest in the box, before heading home into the bottom corner with a superb finish. With eight minutes to go, there was still plenty of time to win it for Wimbledon. In a spell of sustained pressure, Elliott was foiled by Burton and Meades fired just wide with a powerful strike. With time running out, it appeared Wimbledon’s final chance was gone when Taylor crossed from the left and Barnett’s outstretched foot steered the ball agonisingly wide.
Four minutes of injury-time was signalled by the fourth official and with Curzon hanging on by the skin of their teeth, a replay appeared certain. But Elliott changed all that when he met a Jake Reeves free-kick with a looping header that beat Burton to send the travelling Dons wild. Now, the Dons can look forward to Monday night’s draw with plenty of excitement about a potential meeting against a big club in the third round.
AFC Wimbledon: James Shea, Barry Fuller, Paul Robinson, Chris Robertson, Jon Meades, Dean Parrett (Tyrone Barnett), Dannie Bulman, Jake Reeves, Lyle Taylor, Dominic Poleon, Tom Elliott.