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Adam Harwood at The Cherry Records Stadium
Monday, November 12, 2012
FA Cup first round replay: AFC Wimbledon 4 York 3 (aet)
AFC Wimbledon are in prime position for a potential cup tie at Milton Keynes after they edged a seven-goal thriller against ten-man York City.
It took extra time to finally kill off a dogged and determined Minstermen side who played with a numerical disadvantage from the 34th minute onwards.
The visitors, who took the lead through a Seb Brown own goal, were 2-1 down until the 90th minute with supersub Jamie Reed equalising with his first touch. Further goals from Byron Harrison and Jack Midson put the Dons in control in the added period, but York still made Wimbledon sweat with another late Reed goal.
The Dons suffered a pre kick-off blow when attacking midfielder Luke Moore picked up a knee injury just moments before the first whistle, to be replaced by Rashid Yusseff. And the unsettled Wimbledon line-up – manager Neal Ardley made seven changes from the team that had comprehensively dispatched the same opposition 3-0 in the league two days earlier – showed plenty of nerves as York settled into an early stride.
The Minstermen could easily have been two up in the first 20 minutes. Lanre Oyebanjo missed the best chances – one a clear header in front of Brown’s goal from six yards out, the second a much cleaner effort from 20 yards forcing the keeper into an excellent save.
But it was the shaky Brown’s mistake that saw York finally go one up. The excellent Daniel Kearns, a winger on-loan from Peterborough United, delivered a corner right into the heart of the penalty area and the goalie, under pressure from Clarke Carlisle, haplessly punched the ball straight into his own net.
It was no less than York deserved, and a Kearns shot five minutes later which smacked against the crossbar would have provided them with the cushion that their performance merited, but Wimbledon rallied soon after and made the most of their best spell of the first half.
After a flurry of corners came to nothing, the tenacious Yusseff succeeded in winning the ball off the York defence just outside the area. While knocking short to Charlie Strutton, the Dons man was cynically hacked down by Scott Kerr, already on a yellow card from an early offence. But before the inevitable second yellow card was shown, Strutton didn’t hang around, producing an exquisite right-footed curler which flew past Michael Ingham for the equaliser. For Strutton, signed from Chalfont St Peter in January, these cup ties against York have been a revelation, providing him with his first three Wimbledon goals.
With the double whammy of a goal conceded and being reduced to ten men in the same move, one may have not been surprised if York had wilted under the pressure. Yet they soon re-established their general dominance of the game, with Jason Walker – guilty of missing in the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off penalty shoot-out for Luton Town that helped Wimbledon into the Football League – missing a guilt-edged header from six yards out.
The Dons continued to hang on. Warren Cummings was forced to clear off the line after another Walker header from a Kearns corner which was this time heading in the goal, while a minute before half time Brown made a total mess of a clearance, and Matty Blair’s snap-shot curled onto the woodwork – the second time York had found the frame of the Wimbledon goal.
The whistle for half time gave the hosts a chance to regroup, and their second half intent was immediately clear when Jim Fenlon whistled a shot just wide of the near post after a corner had been cleared.
But with York getting back into their stride, although without making many clear-cut chances, Dons boss Ardley felt compelled to make all three substitutes by the hour mark, adding top scorer Byron Harrison to the mix to partner Strutton and Midson up front.
Wimbledon began posing more of a threat halfway into the second period, though Christian Jolley and Harrison were restricted to long range shots and the York defence comfortably dealt with an incisive counter-attack that left Strutton with too much to do.
But then came the breakthrough, with 13 minutes left. A Midson header set Strutton and Chris Smith into a foot race which the Wimbledon striker just won. Ingham got a hand to it, but Strutton had the easy task of tapping into an empty net.
Within seconds York nearly equalised. A quick break was knocked just inches over the bar by Ashley Chambers, with Brown struggling. Yet at the other end, Jolley had a superb chance to wrap things up when the referee excellently ignored an offside flag against the inactive Harrison. Jolley’s shot however was directed straight at Ingham.
Seconds later, an onside Strutton had a golden opportunity for a hat-trick on his full first team debut, but dragged his shot wide in the area.
But York got the equaliser that their performance merited in the final minute of the game. A Carlisle header from a free-kick was brilliantly controlled by Reed, on as a substitute just seconds before, and his second touch was to tap the ball below Brown.
The Dons didn’t take long to re-establish their lead during extra time however. A short ball in from Warren Cummings was simply tapped goalwards in the seventh minute, and the pace on the ball was enough to take it into the bottom corner, out of Ingram’s reach. A fluke goal perhaps, but the Dons versus Dons second round match-up looked back on.
Two minutes later the south London side had a two-goal cushion. A deep Cummings cross this time was knocked back across goal by Strutton and Midson was on hand to slam the ball into the back of the net. The striker, Wimbledon’s top scorer last season, now has two in two having previously endured a 12-game drought.
Still the Dons kept coming. A Long cross was nearly met by both Strutton and Jolley, who got into each other’s way somewhat.
To their credit, York never gave up and rallied in the second period of extra time. Smith wasted a header over the bar after yet another great delivery from Kearns, and with three minutes left a scramble in the Wimbledon box led to Chambers smashing the ball against the upright once more via a deflection from Strutton.
And the panic stations started yet again a minute later. A corner kick was bundled in at the back post by a combination of Carlisle and Reed, with Brown – who didn’t enjoy his finest game – stranded.
The Dons should have had the game killed off seconds later when Long, fouled in a tight melee of York players, still managed to find Strutton, whose hat-trick goal was ruled out by the referee after he’d blown for a free-kick to the home side.
His next whistle brought to a close Wimbledon’s recent double-header with York and opened a potentionally new fiery cup chapter against the despised MK Dons.
Should the League One side beat Cambridge City tomorrow night it will set the two Dons on an FA Cup second round collision course for the first time ever since the phoenix club was born in the wake of the original Wimbledon Football Club’s controversial renaming and relocation to Buckinghamshire ten years ago.
AFC Wimbledon: Brown, Fenlon (Osano, 63), Mambo, Mitchel-King, Cummings, Jolley, Gregory, Yusseff (Long, 42), Midson, Johnson (Harrison, 63), Strutton
Attendance: 1,954 (210 from York)