AFC Wimbledon Women were made to work hard for their victory against a tough Saltdean United side as they eventually prevailed in the FA Cup, 8-7 on penalties.
The shootout added yet more drama to a game that finished 1-1 after extra time, with both sides having opportunities to clinch the win in open play.
However it was the Dons who progress to the next round of the competition, with the draw set to take place on Monday 13 November at 1pm - the fixture is set to be played on Sunday 26 November.
Manager Kevin Foster made six changes to the starting line-up from last week’s win over Actonians, with Lauren Allen starting in goal, Hannah Mackenzie and Nicola Gibson slotting into defence for Kelly Highman and Hannah Billingham, Fran Ali and Lucy Porter replacing Emily Donovan and Molly Childerhouse, and Sandra Soares Martins coming in for Ashleigh Goddard.
The Dons started strong, with most of the play taking place in the opposition half. The first close chance came 18 minutes into the game, as Billie Brooks got on the end of an Ashlee Hincks corner.
The bobbly pitch caused some issues to our usual smooth play, but Soares Martins was given a chance with her left foot about 24 minutes in, with her effort sailing just over the bar.
As Saltdean started to push forwards, the physicality of the game increased. Five minutes before the half-time whistle, the Dons were given two chances, with Ellie Dorey forcing a low save by the hosts’ keeper, and Soares Martins being on the end of a loose ball in the six-yard-box. However it was goalless at the break, with the Dons having more of the ball and the better chances.
Four minutes into the second-half, Wimbledon finally got the opening goal. Hincks travelled with the ball down the right wing, and found Soares Martins who made no mistake in front of goal.
A few minutes later, Saltdean were given a chance of their own from a free-kick which hit the post. To keep the scoreline in the Dons favour, Gibson was forced to make an excellent goal line clearance after a Saltdean corner. It didn’t last long though, as the home team managed to equalise following a free-kick.
70 minutes in Wimbledon make their first substitutions, with Donovan and Childerhouse replacing Porter and Steph Mann.
The rain pelting down made the playing conditions even tougher as goalscorer Soares Martins made way for Goddard. Allen was then forced into making a few good saves, as the Dons made things harder for themselves.
At full-time, the score remained 1-1, and into extra time we went. A few minutes into the first half of the extra half an hour, Dorey was given a chance but the effort went just wide of the far post.
Hincks attempted a few long shots as the Saltdean keeper was caught off her line, but the ball didn’t take flight.
Aside from a few goalmouth scrambles the period of extra time was largely uneventful as the match headed to penalties to decide the victor.
Allen stepped up as the real hero for the Wimbledon side, saving two penalties, with Billie Brooks scoring the Dons’ last spotkick to secure our place in the next round of the FA Cup.
PIC: Tom Smeeth