AFC Wimbledon 0-1 Watford
by George Jones – AFC Wimbledon
Above: A battle for possession yesterday as AFC Wimbledon (blue) took on Watford. Photo: Tom Smeeth.
AFC Wimbledon bowed out of the FAWNL League Cup, despite a valiant display against a very strong Watford side, who were in the second tier of the women’s game last season. Ultimately, it would take extra time and a last-minute wonder shot to decide the winner.
Just like the Dons, top-of-tier three Watford came into this game with plenty of confidence, having scored 13 goals in their last three games. The Wimbledon defensive unit, Rosie Russell, Billie Brooks, Kelly Highman, Hannah Billingham, and goalkeeper Faye Baker, rose to the occasion and kept Watford at bay, preventing them from creating any clear cut opportunities.
The best chance of the first half fell to Dons’ captain Hannah Billingham, who hit the inside of the post after heading a perfectly placed Billie Brooks free kick.
Watford made a double substitution at half time, and came out with renewed energy. Wimbledon continued to deny the opposition any chances. The visitors rattled the post with a long-range effort. Amy Taylor came on for Becki Bath, who had taken a knock, and at 80 minutes, returning from injury, Emma Plewa made her first competitive appearance for the club, as she replaced Ellie Dorey. A few minutes later, the Dons made their final substitution for the day, with Megan Stow coming on for Steph Mann.
As the referee blew the full-time whistle, the teams prepared themselves for extra time. Watford were close to stealing the show just a minute after restarting, but were denied by a goal-line clearance from Billingham. On the other end, Gloria Siber forced the Watford ‘keeper into making a fine save.
In the last minutes of extra time, Emma Plewa was sent off. The 10 remaining Wimbledon players battled to reach a penalty shoot-out, but it wasn’t to be. In the dying seconds of the game, Watford’s Grace Garrad won the ball 30 yards out and fired an unstoppable shot in the top far corner of the goal.
Despite the defeat, it was a performance to be proud of for the Dons, as they pushed the best side a division above all the way.
After the game Dons goalkeeper Faye Baker said “I’m really proud of everybody – the subs, the starting XI, the bench, everybody associated with Wimbledon. We’ve just competed for more than 90 minutes and extra time against the team top of the division above.”
Teams: AFC WIMBLEDON: Baker, Russell, Brooks, Highman, Billingham, Mann, Donovan, Bath, Dorey, Hincks, Siber. Substitutes: Taylor, Stow, Plewa, Sampson.
WATFORD: Ferguson, Gibson, Wallace, Davison, Ward, Head, Georgiou, Mehmet, Chandler, Palish, Garrad. Substitutes: Rossiter, Baptiste, Fatuga-Dada, Wilson, Fyfe.
Scorer: Garrad 120′.