AFC Wimbledon 1-2 Nottingham Forest
FA Women’s National League Plate Final – at Solihull Moors FC.
By George Jones – AFC Wimbledon Ladies
Above: Aerial action between AFC Wimbledon and Nottingham Forest in the FAWNL Plate Final yesterday. Photo: Glyn Roberts.
AFC Wimbledon came up just short against a strong Nottingham Forest side from the division above in the FAWNL Plate Final.
After beating Norwich City, Chesham United, Portishead, Portsmouth, and Sporting Khalsa to reach the final, Wimbledon knew that the game against Forest would be by far their toughest.
With the 11:00am kick-off at Solihull Moors, the Dons started the game strongly in front of a good-sized crowd where despite the long journey, Wimbledon fans heavily outnumbered Nottingham Forest and were making plenty of noise as the South Londoners set out to make history.
Dons came close to opening the scoring only five minutes into the game as a long-range free-kick from Ashlee Hincks landed on the roof of the net. However, it would be Nottingham Forest that took the lead.
Emily Donovan was off the pitch after receiving treatment for an extended period of time during which Forest took advantage of having the extra player and took the lead in the 11th minute from Brown. Despite the setback, Wimbledon rallied and looked for an equalizer.
Yet, the Dons needed Faye Baker to make a couple of fantastic saves to keep the game alive and as the half went on, AFC Wimbledon began to find their feet. With 25 minutes gone they got a much-deserved equalizer as Kelly Highman expertly headed home from an Ashlee Hincks free-kick.
However, less than 10 minutes later, Forest were back in front after a stunning freekick by Anderson left Faye Baker with no chance.
The second half saw Wimbledon push for an equalizer and despite piling on the pressure and making several attacking changes, there was a feeling that perhaps it just wasn’t going to be the Dons’ day as they couldn’t quite convert a chance with substitute Gloria Siber coming closest however her shot went wide.
There were worrying scenes in the closing minutes for Wimbledon as Katie Stanley was carried off the pitch after suffering a serious knee injury. The game finished 2-1 to Nottingham Forest.
Speaking after the game, Dons captain Hannah Billingham said “I feel we had a good performance, especially in the second half, we could have got more from this game. So I am just gutted, few tears at the end there as it’s hard because we have done so well this season and we could have got more from that game.”
Dons Manager Kevin Foster was proud of his team. “Credit to Nottingham Forest, I thought they were excellent in the first half, they moved the ball well, played between lines and they got in between us. It’s frustrating because the first goal has come when we have had a player off the pitch for a minute and a half nearly when we were trying to get them back on. In the second half, we showed a bit of resilience, we could’ve had a couple and we’ve come back against an excellent Nottingham Forest side.”
AFC Wimbledon’s season is not over yet as they still have one more league game at home to Cambridge United in the FA Women’s National League Division One SE at Carshalton Athletic on Sunday 1st May with 2pm kickoff. Tickets are available on the gate priced at Adults £5 and U18’s Free.
Teams: AFC WIMBLEDON: Baker, Russell, Highman, Sargent, Billingham, Mann, Stow (Taylor), Donovan, Stanley (Sampson), Hincks, Carter (Siber). Unused Subs: Allen, Fowler.
Scorer: Highman 25′.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST: Batty, Harkin, Hewitt, Brown, Cook, West, Reynolds, Mitchell, Anderson, James, Greengrass. Substitutes: Steggles, Walters, Docherty, Powell, Aguirre.
Scorers: Brown 13′, Anderson 33′.