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Season countdown: Return of the Railwaymen

Recalling an FA Cup tie versus Crewe Alexandra

26 August 2020

As part of our series looking ahead to the new season, we’ve been featuring memorable matches from the past against our League One opponents for 2020/21.

6. Crewe Alexandra

Down the years, matches against Crewe have been rare. Here we look back on a 1997 FA Cup meeting in the season the Dons reached the semi final of both the main cup competitions and were among the Premiership’s leading pack.

Tuesday 21st January 1997: FA Cup third round replay

Wimbledon (1) 2 Earle 11, Holdsworth 46

Crewe Alexandra (0) 0

Having nearly been derailed in the first game at Crewe, the Wimbledon express was still on track for three trophies after a hard-fought FA Cup replay win over the Alex. The visitors missed two presentable early chances but after Robbie Earle gave side the lead in the 11th minute there was only going to be one winner. Dean Holdsworth booked a fourth round trip to Old Trafford just thirteen seconds into the second half when he turned home Oyvind Leonhardsen’s whipped cross.

Facing arguably the best outfit in the Dons’ history, Crewe manager Dario Gradi, the man who had started the Wimbledon bandwagon rolling in the late 1970s, was proud of his third tier side’s performance.  “I thought we played well, possibly better than we did at home,” he said. “We were not disgraced by a long way. We were still in with a chance until the second goal but Wimbledon are an exceptional side.”

Already through to the League Cup semi final and riding high in the Premiership, the Dons were to face three games against Manchester United in the weeks that followed. “They are the benchmark for how good you are,” boss Joe Kinnear said. “Our games against them are always exceptionally tough but we will give it a go.” A draw in Cup was followed by a narrow defeat in the League before Marcus Gayle’s header saw United beaten in the replay. The Wimbledon train was moving ahead fast.

Dons; Sullivan, Cunningham, Perry, Blackwell, McAllister, Jones, Ardley (Jupp 89), Earle, Leonhardsen, Holdsworth, Gayle (Harford 86)

The picture above shows Marcus Gayle and Crewe’s Dele Adebola competing for the ball.

Dons v Railwaymen (1977-2013)

Season

Comp

H

A

1977-78

Div 4

0-0

0-0

1978-79

Div 4

1-1

2-1

1980-81

Div 4

2-0

3-0

1982-83

Div 4

3-2

1-0

1996-97

FAC3

2-0

1-1

2011-12

Lge2

1-3

3-3

Total W6 D5 L1

This series is written by Stephen Crabtree, the editor of the Historical Don. To sample a copy contact him at stephecrab@aol.com .


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