AFC Wimbledon's young prospects came from behind to secure a thrilling Surrey Senior Cup victory at Dorking Wanderers tonight.
In front of the watching Neal Ardley, Wimbledon's youngsters produced a performance for the club to be proud of with Alan Reeves's side bouncing back from a difficult start.
At 1-0 down at half-time, the young Dons had it all to do, but second-half goals from Jack Rudoni and Tyler Burey earned a 2-1 victory that was fully deserved on the night. Burey's winner was worthy of gracing any stage, his free-kick superbly delivered into the bottom corner from 25 yards. Though the Bostik Premier League hosts were missing a few regulars, including former Don Luke Moore, they did have the advantage of being very familiar with the 3G pitch and Wimbledon coped well with that on the night.
Wimbledon's starting line-up included just one player with first-team experience this season, striker Tommy Wood having made his Dons debut in the Checkatrade Trophy. Dorking were unable to include former Dons midfielder Luke Moore in their team due to injury, but they did have plenty of experience in their ranks with former Wimbledon loanee Tom Richards at left-back.
AFC Wimbledon made a bright start to this match and tested Dorking goalkeeper Slavomir Huk inside the first minute with Ossama Ashley's shot well saved. The Dons continued to press forward and a good move ended with Kyron Stabana denied by Huk. Kosta Sparta, who joined Wimbledon at the end of last season after leaving Reading, then showed good awareness to pick out Tyler Burey on the right, but the winger's powerful drive was well saved by Huk. There was a blow for Wimbledon in the 11th minute with full-back James O'Halloran having to come off injured and that meant a defensive reshuffle with substitute Reuben Collins coming on at centre-back and Osaze Urhoghide switching to left-back.
With Wimbledon having dominated the opening exchanges, it came completely against the run of play when Dorking opened the scoring in the 13th minute. A quick break ended with Richards sending over a lovely cross that found former Woking striker Giuseppe Sole, who finished emphatically from close range. Wimbledon were fortunate not to be 2-0 down when a back pass from Collins came up short and Sole cracked a shot against the crossbar. Dons keeper Nik Tzanev then reacted superbly to stop a low shot from Tom Tolfrey from finding the back of the net.
The Dons responded well after that difficult spell with Ashley shooting straight at Huk, before Sparta blazed over the crossbar. With five minutes of the first-half left, Urhoghide produced a swashbuckling run from just inside the Dorking half, beating three or four challenges, but he was just crowded out before he could get a shot away. On the stroke of half-time, Wimbledon were fortunate not to go 2-0 down when Tolfrey's shot was just wide of the near post. However, on the balance of play that would have been harsh on Wimbledon.
Dorking came out at the start of the second-half with a real determination to double the advantage and the Dons needed Tzanev to make a fine save to deny substitute Jerry O'Sullivan. That didn't rattle Wimbledon though and the visitors stormed back into it with Kane Crichlow leading the charge. The talented midfielder curled just wide with an excellent individual effort, before striking a goal-bound effort that was just blocked.
As we approached the hour mark, Wimbledon were showing real signs of turning this around. Sparta almost equalised when he bent a superb free-kick around the wall, but it just missed the top corner. Alan Reeves decided to make a change in the 70th minute with Finley Macnab entering the fray in place of Sparta, who had shown moments of real promise.
With Wimbledon having shown such an impressive second-half response, it was no surprise when the equaliser arrived in the 76th minute. The Dons were helped by a poor clearance from Dorking keeper Huk, but there was still plenty to do when Jack Rudoni latched onto the ball. The midfielder, who scored in the 4-0 Central League win against Southend, struck another fine effort when he fired home emphatically from 20 yards. Now rejuvenated by the equaliser, Wimbledon piled forward for a winner and it came in superb style six minutes from time. Tyler Burey stepped up and let fly with a brilliant free-kick that arrowed into the bottom corner, leaving the keeper with no chance.
It had been an impressive second-half fightback from the young Dons and a place in the second round of the Surrey Senior Cup was fully merited for AFC Wimbledon on the night.
AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Kyron Stabana, Paul Kalambayi, Osaze Urhoghide, Jason O'Halloran, (Reuben Collins) Osama Ashley, Tyler Burey, Jack Rudoni, Tommy Wood (Donte Lodge Francis), Kane Crichlow, Kosta Sparta (Finley Macnab).