FC United wombled down to South London for the Co-operative Supporters Direct Cup but were undone by a second half double from the Dons.
Adam Carden had a penalty saved and Phil Marsh hit the post but the Wombles put in a neat and tidy performance, a common sight at Kingsmeadow these days, to clinch the match 2-0 in front of 1,772 supporters.
Wimbledon captain Ben Judge broke the deadlock with a tap-in seconds before the hour mark and trialist Peter Rapson came off the bench to seal victory for the Blue Square Conference new boys in the 90th minute.
Overall it was probably a fair result but the match could have been very different if Carden had converted his spot-kick midway through the first half to give the Reds the upper hand. Wimbledon looked very comfortable on the ball throughout the match but they failed to create many clear cut openings in the first 45 minutes at United’s defence and Sam Ashton shut them out quite well.
In fact, the closest the Dons came to getting the ball in the back of the net was when United captain David Chadwick nearly scored a freak own goal by putting in a strong slide tackle on the left wing with five minutes on the clock. The ball flew towards the back post and with Ashton scrambling to get back there was a few Red sighs of relief when it flashed just wide of the upright.
After that early scare, the men from Manchester seemed to settle. Carden dispossessed Kennedy Adjei as he tried to control a risky pass and the Reds winger used his pace to surge towards the hosts goal before laying the ball off to the left for Marsh. The former Manchester United youngster entered the box and checked back before he was felled by a clumsy tackle by Adjei, who was trying to make amends, giving the referee no option but to point to the spot.
Marsh seemed to want to take the penalty himself but Carden had picked up the ball and was determined to do the honours. Whether United’s players’ player of last season will be taking the next one will probably be up for debate though as it was a poor penalty at a comfortable height and saved quite easily by James Pullen.
The Reds were playing well though, especially at the back and the first time Ashton was made to do any real physical work by a Wimbledon player was not until the 35th minute. Ricky Wellard looked like a real handful and when he weaved his way through the visiting defence he looked odds-on to score. However, his shot to the bottom left was saved well by Ashton who had no right to get there.
Both teams made several changes at half-time as well as during the second-half and as a result the game lost a bit of shape. Wimbledon were the side who seemed to cope with it better and on 59 minutes they went 1-0 up. A free-kick was drilled low across the box from the right flank by Chris Hussey and Judge arrived unmarked at the far post to tap the ball home. A soft goal that the Reds will no doubt be disappointed with after defending so resolutely for virtually the first hour.
With a one goal advantage the Dons began to take control of the game. The Dons’ new signing Derek Duncan had been introduced for Sam Hatton at half-time and he seemed keen to impress. Steven Gregory provided him with a cross from the right and he hit a good volley from inside the box but Ashton was well positioned to save it.
Minutes later it was Paul Lorraine who was charging at the United defence and he whipped another good ball in for Duncan who this time elected to go for a header from 15 yards out. However, that too was saved by Ashton.
Down at the other end United were doing their best to get an equaliser. And with five minutes to go they came within a whisker of getting one. Phil Marsh curled a low free-kick around the wall from about 25 yards out and with substitute keeper Seb Brown beaten, the ball cracked against the left post.
It seemed pretty clear that it wasn’t going to be FC United’s day and the Reds’ goal-scoring hoodoo was set to continue at Kingsmeadow. All that was left was for Wimbledon to rub some salt in the wounds. With 90 minutes up on the clock, Luke Moore broke down the right wing, Rob Nugent was a little slow to get over to him and the number 20 played a perfect ball into the box for the unmarked Rapson to tap the ball home, giving Ashton no chance.
Despite the 2-0 score-line, Manager Karl Marginison will be reasonably pleased with how his side played against the Conference South champions. Wimbledon are a very good side and United held their own against them for large spells but were undone by two pieces of sloppy marking.