Wimbledon 3 v Braintree Town 0
Wimbledon will face Woking in the next round of the FA Trophy after beating Conference South leaders Braintree 3-0 in the 1st Round on Saturday (11 December).
The win was slightly flattering for the Dons who, after taking an early lead and seeing the visitors reduced to 10 men, had to endure a spirited second-half display from the Essex side before two late goals sealed the victory.
They went ahead after just seven minutes when an intricate pattern of passing inside the Braintree box culminated in Chris Bush delivering a low cross across the goalmouth for Christian Jolley to latch onto and tap home.
And the Dons' chances were given a further boost moments after 24 minutes when Braintree centre-back Michael Alaile fouled Danny Kedwell just outside the penalty box just as the striker threatened to burst through. Referee Stuart Burt judged it to be a goalscoring opportunity and produced a slightly harsh red card.
Sam Hatton then wasted an opportunity to stretch the Dons’ lead, dragging his shot wide when a near-post blast seemed the better option, and he and Kedwell both had further opportunities before the half-time whistle.
But Braintree pressed hard after the break and gave the Dons some difficult moments. It was only the apparent lack of a clinical goalscorer that cost the visitors as, despite causing a few heart-in-mouth moments, they never really carved open the Dons defence.
And, as the 10 men tired, Wimbledon introduced the pace of substitute Mark Nwokeji and switched to a 4-4-2 formation, and the balance of play started to return to the home side.
The goals that killed off the Essex threat came right at the death. First a quickly taken Hatton free-kick caught Braintree napping, allowing Nwokeji a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, who he rounded before slotting home.
And then moments later Bush fed the ball to Kedwell who, having seemed destined not to score all afternoon, will have been relieved to see his shot bounce off the far post and into the back of the net.
It was slightly cruel on the visitors but the Dons won’t be complaining as they look forward to a 2nd Round tie against Woking at Kingsmeadow on Saturday 15 January.
Wimbledon: Brown, Hatton, Bush, Gregory, Yakubu, Franks, Wellard (Jackson 58), Yussuff, Kedwell, Jolley, L. Moore (Nwokeji 77). Subs not used: Blackman, Turner, Jones.
Goalscorers: Jolley 8, Nwokeji 86, Kedwell 88.
Booked: Yussuff 90.
Braintree Town: McDonald, Starkey, Jones, Alaile, Bailey-Dennis, Quinton (Lechmere 72), Reason, Symons (Guy 72), Davis, Marks (Peters 26), Shulton. Subs not used: Clark, Bryant.
Booked: Jones 30, Reason 51.
Sent off: Alaile 24.
Referee: Stuart Burt (Northampton).
December 12, 2010