AFC Wimbledon were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup tonight after two second-half goals from Doncaster.
Wimbledon had produced a very good first-half and Kwesi Appiah struck a post when it was 0-0, but it was a different story after the break and Doncaster won it through goals from James Coppinger and Rakish Bingham. Up until the second-half Wimbledon had restricted the hosts to very little and posed a threat at the other end, but Doncaster were much-improved after the break.
Glyn Hodges made three changes to the side that started against Blackpool on Saturday. One of those had to be made with Marcus Forss not permitted to play in the Emirates FA Cup by his parent club Brentford and that meant a recall for Kwesi Appiah. The other two changes were in midfield with Callum Reilly and Anthony Hartigan replacing Max Sanders and Shane McLoughlin. The Dons were aiming to go one better than 10 days ago when Doncaster cancelled out Joe Pigott’s first-half opener to earn a replay.
Doncaster came out of the traps quickly and Jon Taylor struck a shot from just outside the area that Nathan Trott watched all the way to collect the ball comfortably. In response, there was an encouraging moment for Wimbledon when Joe Pigott showed good awareness to find Appiah in space inside the box. There was still plenty to do for Appiah as the angle was against him, but he struck a very good effort that Seny Dieng had to save at his near post. Though Doncaster had the majority of possession, Wimbledon maintained a good shape and were never really threatened by the hosts in the first-half.
As the first-half wore on, Wimbledon really started to come into it. Pigott dropped off effectively into the hole and tried his luck with a fine strike, but it was too close to Dieng, who did well to hold the effort. Pinnock gradually started to effect the game as the first-half progressed and he shot wide of the target with a decent strike. Then the attacking midfielder picked out Appiah with a lovely lofted ball to the left wing and Wimbledon’s number 9 had his shot charged down. From the subsequent corner, the ball was only half cleared and Pinnock once again shot wide.
Wimbledon were so unlucky not to take the lead in the 42nd minute through Appiah. A fine cross from the right by Scott Wagstaff was only half cleared and Appiah fired against a post with the home players relieved to watch the ball bounce to safety. Though Taylor struck a shot just wide at the other end, Wimbledon could be very pleased with the away display so far when the whistle shrilled for half-time. All that had been missing from an impressive away performance in the first-half had been the finishing touch.
That first-half full of promise mattered little when Doncaster earned the lead in the 52nd minute. Callum Reilly was just unable to stretch enough to claim a loose ball in midfield and Taylor wasted no time in finding Coppinger through the middle. After just staying onside, Coppinger cut inside, before finding the bottom corner with a lovely finish that left Trott with no chance. It was a test now of just how much Wimbledon wanted to stay in the famous competition as Doncaster poured forward in search of another goal. Trott had to react well to tip a shot from Taylor wide and the hosts were now comfortably enjoying their best spell of the game so far.
Wimbledon initially responded by threatening to draw level. Pinnock had a shot that was deflected into the arms of the home keeper, before Pigott also struck a shot that was too close to Dieng. Doncaster had been a far different side after the break, offering much more threat and it was 2-0 in the 70th minute. From a Wimbledon perspective, Doncaster were allowed too much time and space. Taylor reached the touchline unchallenged and sent over a cross that picked out the unmarked Rakish Bingham, who slotted home with ease. Doncaster almost increased the advantage in the latter stages as they had two efforts cleared off the line, but two was enough for the hosts to progress.
AFC Wimbledon: Nathan Trott, Luke O’Neill, Terell Thomas (Paul Kalambayi), Scott Wagstaff, Anthony Hartigan (Max Sanders), Kwesi Appiah, Mitch Pinnock, Callum Reilly (Shane McLoughlin), Paul Osew, Joe Pigott, Ryan Delaney.