A crowd of over 500 spectators watched AFC Wimbledon’s gallant exit from the SSE Women's Cup at the fourth round stage on Sunday.
After an excellent cup run, beating teams from the third tier – one step above the Dons – AFC Wimbledon Ladies were unable to overcome the strength of Bristol City WFC from the Women’s Super League. The Dons were 3-0 down at half-time in the match played at Carshalton Athletic, but an admirable second-half effort meant that the score remained the same at the full-time whistle.
Bristol City marched into the lead with less than a minute gone through Abi Harrison, who finished well after a long diagonal ball from Danique Kerkdijk. The impact on the team and supporters was visible and it took Wimbledon a few minutes to gather their spirit and fight.
Edie Kelly (pictured) made the first of several smart saves when she denied Poppy Pattinson at the far post. The match looked set to go downhill rapidly when Kelly suffered a knock on 13 minutes but, as usual, she battled on. Wimbledon were organised, but on the back foot against the professionalism of Bristol and the second goal came on 25 minutes with a cross from the left across goal which was put in on the angle by Katie Robinson.
In a difficult match for Wimbledon, shards of light emerged, particularly when the crowd cheered Becky Sargent, as she made a long run down the right. Kelly continued to protect her goal and stay warm! Bristol pressed on though and after 37 minutes scored their third goal in a crowded area, Poppy Wilson making no mistake from close range.
The second-half saw Wimbledon come out fighting, determined to reduce the deficit. Jenny Nagle was running her socks off, Becky Sargent was starting to bite in midfield, and Becks Mclaren-Johnson continued at the high tempo she showed in the first half. Jess Trimnell put in one of her strong long distance shots, but this time it went wide.
Bristol still created chances, but they seemed to be losing their finishing touch against a resolute Wimbledon defence. The Ladies were putting more moves together in this half, but a goal wouldn’t come. Katie Stanley replaced Jenny Nagle with 30 minutes to go, livening up the place with her fresh legs. Rosie Russell was caught in a tackle when defending valiantly, and she received attention. The pacey Megan Kowlaski replaced the valiant Georgia Heasman and one of the biggest cheers came from the massed ranks of AFCW Ladies & Girls players when Hannah Baptiste came on for captain Jess Trimnell. There were one or two moments when Bristol should have netted again, but a combination of their finishing and some superb keeping from Kelly meant that it was honours even for the second-half!
It had been a tremendous cup run though for AFC Wimbledon Ladies and all at the club thank supporters for getting behind the team on Sunday. It’s back to league action on Sunday with a trip to Ipswich Ladies for The Dons.
Follow the Dons Ladies on Twitter @afcw_ladies, Instagram @afcwladies and Facebook @AFCWimbledonLadies .
Starting line-up v Bristol City: 1 Edie Kelly, 4 Becky Mclaren-Johnson, 5 Rosie Russell, 6 Jess Trimnell (C), 7 Jenny Nagle, 8 Rebecca Sargent, 9 Caroline Bisson, 15 Georgia Heasman, 17 Sian Wylie, 18 Kelly Highman, 20 Hannah Billingham
Subs: 2 Megan Kowalski, 3 Linsey Clarke, 11 Hannah Baptiste, 12 Sarah Wentworth, 14 Katie Stanley, 16 Jordanne Hoesli-Atkins.