Walker and Odubade book date with Newcastle United
Boro put in confident display in front of ITV1 cameras
AFC Wimbledon 0 Stevenage 2
BORO knocked AFC Wimbledon out of the FA Cup in a confident and controlling performance on Saturday afternoon.
A first half free kick from on-loan debutant Josh Walker and a second half Yemi Odubade strike booked Stevenage’s passage into the next round where a mouth-watering home tie against Newcastle United awaits.
Boro looked comfortable from the outset with their five midfielders dictating the play when they had the ball whilst harrying their opponents when they were without it.
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With on-loan striker Chris Holroyd ineligible Chris Beardsley led the line and ran AFC’s back line, and in particular Ismail Yakubu, ragged at times and although this was far from a perfect display, it was a convincing performance in front of the live ITV1 cameras.
Boro signalled their intentions within the first five minutes when another loanee, Jay O’Shea, cut inside former Boro youth product Sam Hatton and sent a shot into the side netting from the edge of the box, but the opening exchanges were littered with high, hopeful balls with neither team able to get a foothold on the game.
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Walker showed an early glimpse of his set-piece taking ability when his inch-perfect corner found Scott Laird’s run to the near post, but the defender couldn’t direct his header at goal before the ball was cleared and Mousinho had a shot blocked.
Boro began to look composed on the ball as the hosts failed to put any meaningful moves together and Graham Westley’s men had another good chance to take the lead when Bostwick put a header from a corner wide after his marker Steven Gregory had been caught ball-watching.
Beardsley was having plenty of fun up front with the poor Yakubu unable to deal with him on the ground or in the air, and the striker’s movement created space for the supporting O’Shea and Mousinho.
Walker gave Boro the lead on 24 minutes from a free kick after Mousinho had been fouled by Gregory.
There was no question it was a free kick, and there was no question ‘keeper Seb Brown was at fault for the goal as Walker curled his effort around the stopper’s side of the wall only to see it bounce off the inside of the post and into the net. Brown, his positioning poor, stood in no man’s land, motionless.
AFC’s first chance came on the half-hour mark when Kedwell kicked a flicked corner into the ground and Day was forced to punch it clear.
The hosts struggled to get through the Boro midfield with their three front men feeding on scraps, and when Luke Moore ran into the box on 35 minutes he fell over without a touch from Ashton in as much as desperation as anything, but the referee rightly refused him a spot kick.
Just before the break Walker fired another free kick over the bar, and Boro went into half time looking comfortably the better side.
Ten minutes after the restart Boro had two chances to double their lead within the space of a minute.
A Boro clearance was poorly defended by the home side and Lawrie Wilson ran towards the box with the ball before seeing his shot deflect off Chris Bush and run out for a corner.
AFC had already seen Walker and Laird combine during a previous corner, so it was a surprise to see the Boro left-back run to the near post again and direct Walker’s cross onto the post with a flick of his left boot.
The hosts were living dangerously, but they almost fashioned a chance out of nothing on the hour-mark only for captain Danny Kedwell, who had become increasingly more influential, to see his ball across the face of goal be directed away from Day’s net by a sliding Ronnie Henry.
Moore then had Wimbledon’s best chance of the game, but he fluffed his lines.
The forward had played a one-two with Kedwell on the left before running into the box between the two Boro centre-backs and when Kedwell’s cross came in he was plum set to head it goalwards only to knock the chance over the bar. It was a gilt-edged chance and a waste of a great opportunity. Ricky Wellard and substitute Rashid Yussuff both had efforts at goal, but they were speculative efforts and Boro were still commanding the game and made sure of their progression into Round Three with 10 minutes to go.
Beardsley shrugged off Yakubu in the build-up to set up Wilson on the right and while the winger was making space for himself for the cross Beardsley and Odubade, on for the injured Jon Ashton, were making their way into the box.
Wilson looked up, sent in a cross and Yakubu failed to deal with it, Beardsley was unable to get a head to it and the ball fell to Odubade who controlled it and put his laces through it to bulge the back of the net.
Kedwell missed a sitter four minutes into injury time and Ed Harris was sent off for a second yellow card for a foul on Mousinho in the build-up to Odubade’s goal, and both incidents summed up a rather disappointing display from Terry Brown’s side.
Boro, though, will be happy with their display and will be looking forward to a plum draw at home to Chris Hughton’s Magpies come the first week in January.
AFC Wimbledon (4-3-3): Brown 5, Yakubu 3, Harris 4, Bush 6, Gregory 5, Hatton 6, Wellard 5 (Main, 79), Jolley 5 (Yussuff 6, 56), S Moore 6, Kedwell 7, L Moore 5. Subs: Turner, Jackson, Franks, Minshull.
Boro (4-5-1): Day 6, Wilson 6, Laird 6, Ashton 6 (Odubade, 71), Roberts 7, Henry, Mousinho 7, O’Shea 6 (Bridges, 76), Bostwick 7, Walker 8, Beardsley 7 (Dixon, 90+4)
Referee: K Stroud