AFC Wimbledon needed penalties to edge out Met Police in the London Senior Cup tonight.
Following a 0-0 score-line after 90 minutes, Wimbledon triumphed 6-5 in a penalty shoot-out at Imber Court. Shane McLoughlin, Anthony Hartigan, Jack Rudoni, Ayoub Assal, Reuben Collins, and Dylan Adjei-Hersey all converted from 12 yards to take Wimbledon through to the next round. Zach Robinson had earlier had his spot-kick saved and Kyron Stabana's effort struck the woodwork to provide Met Police with a chance to win it. However, home keeper Jack Rule missed the target to take it into sudden death. When Rigers Kacokaj struck the woodwork for the hosts, Adjei-Hersey fired home the decisive spot-kick to take Wimbledon through.
During the 90 minutes, Wimbledon had been unable to beat Met Police keeper Jack Rule, who was superb on the night. Anthony Wordsworth (pictured) stepped up his match fitness by playing for 70 minutes and he came close with a rasping drive that was tipped onto the crossbar by Rule.
AFC Wimbledon selected a strong side for this London Senior Cup tie with six of the starting 11 having played League One football. At 30 years of age, Anthony Wordsworth was the senior member of Wimbledon’s team with 17-year-old Zach Robinson, who has been on loan at Basingstoke, as the youngest. Lead Professional Phase Coach and Loan Manager Mark Robinson took charge of team matters for this game with Glyn Hodges watching on from the stands at Imber Court.
Met Police started with a very young team, manager Gavin Macpherson having earmarked this competition to bring through more home-grown talent. Of course, the Dons had benefited from that approach by signing Nesta Guinness-Walker from Met Police at the end of last season.
Wimbledon almost marched into the lead inside two minutes when Anthony Hartigan swung over a cross from the left that Reuben Collins rose highest to meet, but his header was just wide. On a rain-sodden pitch, Wimbledon sprayed the ball around effectively with Hartigan and Jack Rudoni getting involved. Wordsworth wasn’t shy in terms of attempting the direct approach and he struck a fine 30-yard effort that Met Police keeper Alfie Rule did well to beat out. Wordsworth also had an effort charged down, before Kyron Stabana sent over a lovely cross from the right, but no one managed to get on the end of it.
Despite dominating possession in the first 20 minutes, Wimbledon were foiled by a well-drilled Met Police defence and a shot from outside the box by Mitch Pinnock was saved by Rule. As we approached half-time, Met Police were making life difficult for Wimbledon, the visitors struggling to create any clear-cut openings. Wordsworth put over a lovely ball from the left just before the break, but Robinson was just unable to get on the end of the cross.
At the start of the second-half, Wimbledon stroked the ball around effectively and a good move involving Rudoni and Wordsworth ended with a shot from outside the area by Stabana that was beaten out by Rule. Rudoni made a fine start to the second-half, his silky skills almost creating the opener as he beat his marker before finding Pinnock, and the move ended with Wordsworth shooting just wide. Rudoni then almost did it himself when he cut inside and struck a fine effort on goal that Rule did very well to save.
Wimbledon had a great chance to make the breakthrough just before the hour when Wordsworth’s lovely cross picked out Rudoni, but he shot over the crossbar. Wordsworth then came so close to breaking the deadlock in the 63rd minute. Following a foul just outside the area on Rudoni, Wordsworth fired in a fierce free-kick that appeared certain to open the scoring, but Rule did brilliantly to tip the ball onto the crossbar.
The Dons made three changes with 20 minutes to go. Wordsworth, Pinnock, and Procter were withdrawn with Jack Currie, Dylan Adjei-Hersey, and Ayoub Assal entering the fray. Assal was certainly no stranger to Imber Court as he’s been on loan at Met Police this season. As we entered the final stages of this game, Met Police had a great chance to snatch victory. A cross into the box reached Ben Hughes, but he directed his shot wide of the target. At the other end, Wimbledon had a decent chance when Zach Robinson found space in the box, but he shot wide. As the match entered injury-time, Wimbledon pressed for a winner and Assal did well to get a cross into the box that eventually found Rudoni, but he shot over the crossbar. That turned out to be the last chance for Wimbledon, before a triumphant penalty shoot-out win for The Dons.
AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Kyron Stabana, Paul Kalambayi, Reuben Collins, Archie Procter (Jack Currie), Jack Rudoni, Anthony Wordsworth (Ayoub Assal), Shane McLoughlin, Anthony Hartigan, Zach Robinson, Mitch Pinnock (Dylan Adjei-Hersey).