AFC Wimbledon 1-2 Arsenal Academy
by George Jones – AFC Wimbledon (27/4/23)
Above: The AFC Wimbledon side that started last night’s Capital Cup Final at CB Hounslow. Photo: Emily Topping.
AFC Wimbledon gave Arsenal’s young talent a scare before succumbing to a narrow Capital Cup Final defeat last night.
A 2-1 loss came after Emma Plewa had given Wimbledon the lead, but Arsenal Academy, fielding players with WSL experience, ultimately emerged triumphant in the final at CB Hounslow.
Nevertheless, there was rightly plenty of pride in the Dons’ camp after a bold show last night and a run in the competition that included getting the better of Sutton United, Queen’s Park Rangers, and London Bees.
Reflecting after the match, manager Kevin Foster said: “I am proud of the group we have, and it sums up the progress we’ve made as a team that we put in an excellent shift against players who train full-time.”
Despite knowing the scale of the test they faced, Wimbledon started positively and Emily Donovan forced the Arsenal keeper into a fine save, setting the tone for the rest of the first half.
At the other end, Lauren Allen made a fine stop to keep the Dons level and that provided the platform for the South-West London side to take the initiative. A superb move involving Gloria Siber and Ellie Dorey ended with Plewa shooting over the crossbar. Siber continued to cause problems and her impact resulted in a penalty as she was brought down in the box and Plewa made no mistake from 12 yards.
Arsenal made notable substitutions at the break, bringing on players with Super League experience – and the equaliser followed two minutes after the break after Wimbledon failed to deal with a corner. The game became a more physical affair, resulting in Siber’s outstanding display being brought to a premature conclusion as she was withdrawn after suffering a serious injury. Ashlee Hincks entered the fray for her first appearance in several months after recovering from injury.
Despite the loss of Siber, the Dons continued to create opportunities with Chloe Sampson forcing a fine save. With 15 minutes to go, it was all hands on deck for Wimbledon as a goalmouth scramble ended with Hannah Billingham clearing off the line. However, that turned out to be only a temporary reprieve as Arsenal struck what turned out to be the winner with 10 minutes left.
Following the gallant loss, there’s an opportunity for Kevin Foster’s side to end the season on a high when they entertain Norwich City at the Cherry Red Records Stadium at Plough Lane on Sunday (2pm kick-off) to conclude their tier four FA Women’s National League Division One South-East campaign.
AFC WIMBLEDON: Allen, Russell, Brooks, Highman, Billingham, Ali, Donovan, Dorey, Plewa (Taylor), Sampson, Siber (Hincks).
Scorer: Plewa (pen) 35′.