AFC Wimbledon 3 v Charlton Athletic 1
AFC Wimbledon will be playing at Wembley after getting through to the third round of the FA Cup when a Lyle Taylor brace added to a goal from Cody McDonald to beat Charlton Athletic 3-1 at Kingsmeadow on Sunday (3 December).
And what a difference a month makes for Wimbledon fans, who are now relishing a trip to Wembley to play Tottenham. At the end of October, the Dons went to Charlton and produced a negative, defensive display that typified the approach adopted to so many matches this year, unsurprisingly coming away with a 0-1 defeat. On Sunday, with the combined talents of Taylor, McDonald, Andy Barcham and Harry Forrester in the starting line-up, they took the match to the opposition and deservedly won an open, end-to-end encounter.
Boss Neal Ardley reflected on iFollow Dons afterwards: ‘We had talked over how we wanted to go about the game. We just said, “We are at home, it is a big London derby to get into the third round of the FA Cup, so let’s have a crack at it.”
‘If we had lost, we could say that we went all out to win the game. I thought Charlton were the same; they did not want a replay, too, and it ended up a really entertaining game.’
The Dons survived an early scare when Jay Dasilva hit the goal line and pulled the ball back for Karlan Ahearne-Grant. George Long did extremely well to get a glove down to block the shot, with and glove out the shot, with Jon Meades on hand to help scramble the ball clear before Josh Magennis could pounce.
And on 10 minutes the Dons were ahead. Deji Oshilaja showed great determination to win the ball on the edge of the box before circumnavigating two defenders and, as the ball ran loose, challenging for possession with Charlton keeper Ben Amos. As the ball ran clear, McDonald pounced, calmly making space for himself before slotting home.
But the Dons’ advantage lasted just 12 minutes. Aherne-Grant fed Mark Marshall wide on the right and then burst into the box to get on the end of Marshall’s ground-based cross, deflecting it beyond Long to make the net ripple.
Both sides continued to press throughout the remainder of the first period but both struggled to make the breakthrough, although Taylor did test Amos with one long-range drive and took a succession of corners as the Dons continued to press.
Instead, it was Charlton, early in the second half, who went incredibly close to taking the lead. There seemed little threat when Dasilva shot from the corner of the penalty box but it took a wicked deflection to balloon towards the goal. Amazingly, the backpedalling Long somehow got enough of a touch on the ball at full stretch to palm it onto the bar and was then on his feet quickly to distract Magennis as he seemed poised to tap it home, the Northern Ireland international instead blazing over from close range. That save alone was probably enough to earn Long his deserved man-of-the-match award.
With 20 minutes remaining, the Dons capitalised on Long’s brilliance. McDonald showed real strength to hold off the towering presence of Charlton defender Naby Sarr before charging into the penalty box. Selflessly, he then squared the ball to the lurking Taylor who had made space by standing still as his marker drifted away and swept the ball home to put the Dons 2-1 ahead.
And the victory was assured nine minutes from full time when Barcham charged into the area after latching onto Darius Charles’s long clearance and tumbled under Anfernee Dijksteel’s challenge to win a penalty. Taylor calmly sent Amos the wrong way to cap an entertaining win for the Dons.
It is back to the routine of league action for the Dons as they face games against teams at different ends of the table. First they travel to joint-bottom Bury (Saturday 9 December), then follow it up with a home match against table-topping Wigan Athletic (Saturday 16 December). Wimbledon fans will no doubt be keen to see whether Ardley’s new-found positivity extends from the cup and into league performances.
Wimbledon: Long, Fuller, Oshilaja, Charles, Meades, Trotter, Soares, Barcham (Kennedy 89), Forrester (Francomb 75), Taylor, McDonald (Abdou 82). Subs not used: Nightingale, Robinson, Kaja, McDonnell.
Goalscorers: McDonald 10, Taylor 70, 81 (pen).
Charlton: Amos, Dijksteel, Konsa, Sarr, Dasilva, Forster-Caskey, Aribo (Lennon 88), Marshall (Hackett-Fairchild 76), Ahearne-Grant (Best 74), Holmes, Magennis. Subs not used: Jackson, Phillips, Dodoo.
Goalscorer: Ahearne-Grant 22.
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December 4, 2017