The team saw Chris Beardsley alone up front, as Chris Holroyd made way through ineligibility. Into the team came Josh Walker, signed on loan from Watford on Thursday night, who replaced Stacy Long. Ronny Henry, Jon Mousinho and Jay O’Shea all returned.
The opening few minutes were fast-paced and frenetic but ultimately Boro emerged on top; O’Shea’s drive hit the side netting and Michael Bostwick should have scored a free header from a corner but glanced the ball just wide, letting AFC Wimbledon off on both occasions.
Midway through the half, Bostwick was brought down just outside the area and a free kick was given despite the home fans’ protests. Up stepped Walker, who showed great control to curl the ball around the wall and into the net via the post. Stevenage deserved their lead and worked the ball around well in the first half, with the Dons unable to find a way past Ashton or Roberts.
In the second period, the Dons came out looking much more lively, taking the game to Boro much more than in the first period. A change of shape from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 helped the Dons turn the midfield battle in their favour and start threatening the Stevenage defence, who began to look panicked.
Lawrie Wilson’s deflected shot on the counter-attack followed by Laird’s shot off the post was the best offering in the opening exchanges, while the Dons saw Day save well from an attacker when clean through, and Ronny Henry had to clear a dangerous cross inside the six yard box.
Stevenage’s Jon Ashton had to be substituted after picking up a calf complaint and on came Yemi Odubade, with Bostwick moving back into defence. It proved to be a good change as Yemi’s pace meant the opposing defence had to keep several back, hindering their control of the game.
With the clock ticking by, Stevenage went on a rare foray forward. Mousinho, who was subject to a nasty high challenge by the already booked Harris, knocked the ball to Beardsley inside the area and the striker’s cross was swiped at by Odubade, whose scuffed volley went through the defender’s legs and beat the scrambling keeper across the bobbling turf to nestle in the far corner.
Harris was then promptly shown a second yellow card by referee Keith Stroud, giving the Dons a mountain to climb which, despite creating chances with a Danny Kedwell header and miscued shot, they could not rise to.
Stevenage now find themselves in the Third Round with a home tie against Newcastle to look forward to. It doesn’t get much better than that. But remember 1998.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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