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AFC Wimbledon 1 Rovers 1

9 November 2019

Tom Anderson's header ensured battling Rovers took AFC Wimbledon to a replay after their Emirates FA Cup first round match ended in a 1-1 draw in tough conditions the Cherry Reds Record Stadium.

Joe Piggot opened the scoring for the home side just before the break, but Anderson levelled the tie as he headed home from a Danny Amos corner kick on the hour mark. Both sides had chances to win it with both keepers responsible for some excellent saves but will face off again at the Keepmoat Stadium in a replay on Tuesday November 19.

Rovers made three changes from the side which drew with Burton Albion the weekend before. Ben Whiteman and Reece James missed out through illness, while Donervon Daniels was also left out as a precaution after feeling a groin injury the day before. This gave Amos a place in the starting XI at left-back, along with Madger Gomes and Joe Wright.

Wimbledon had a few injury woes of their own, while top scorer Marcus Forss also missed out as his parent club Brentford did not clear him to feature in the cup.

The match took place on Remembrance Weekend and was preceded by a perfectly observed minute's silence by both clubs.

The game kicked off in the heavy rain that had been prevalent around the country and both sides had to adapt quickly to the heavy conditions.

Wimbledon fashioned the first chance of the afternoon, with Paul Osew firing wide from the edge of the box after quick feet bought him a yard of space before two corners for Rovers game them their first inroads.

Rovers also offered glimpses of what they were capable of in possession. Quick one-touch passing through midfield allowed Ben Sheaf chance to play a lovely ball over the top of the Dons' defence. The ball reached its intended target of Kieran Sadlier but the Rovers No.7 was flagged offside.

Rovers continued to get into good positions down both flanks, with Sadlier and Jon Taylor both finding pockets of space but overhit crosses from both sides meant they were failing to really test Wimbledon keeper Nathan Trott.

Terell Thomas and Taylor then exchanged wayward efforts which both flew wide of their intended targets.

The match burst into life on the half-hour mark as a flurry of chances fell Rovers’ way. Defensive heroics from Luke O’Neill and Paul Kalambayi denied Taylor and Coppinger, before a superb save down to his left by Trott denied Kwame Thomas whose close-range header looked destined for the bottom right corner.

The long ball over the top was bearing some fruit for the home side and Anderson had to hook the ball clear to deny O’Neill’s cross from reaching Kwesi Appiah who was waiting in the six-yard box for a tap in.

Kalambayi hooked Taylor’s cross away launching a counter-attack for the Dons. Rovers were outnumbered at the back and Piggot was virtually alone in the box and able to head O’Neill’s cross over Dieng who slipped in the wet conditions as he initially came off his line.

Rovers nearly hit back in added time when Coppinger wriggled free of a defender and played a wonderful cross to the far post. Sadlier got his head to it but he could only direct the ball into the keeper’s arms.

Neither team made any changes at the break and as the second half began little seemed to be going Rovers way. Any misplaced pass or heavy touch was pounced upon by the home side and, with the rain still pouring, players on both sides were struggling to stay on their feet.

Wright picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on the half-way line and Kwame Thomas looked a frustrated figure when a challenge which put him on the deck was ignored by officials.

Despite Rovers difficulties and the growing confidence of the home side, Rovers created two good chances in quick succession. First Sheaf and then Wright playing excellent balls over the defence to find the run of Coppinger from deep. The Rovers no.26 shot wide of the far post with his first and found the keeper at the near post with his second.

Terell Thomas then let a golden opportunity go begging as he was left unmarked in the box but he could only head wide.

Rovers almost levelled when a cross found Amos unmarked at the backpost – he drilled the ball back across the goal but there was no one there to turn it in. Amos did get his assist moments later, though.

The left-back hit a fantastic corner kick in towards the near post and it was met by a brave header from Anderson for his first goal of the season. The centre-back was clattered in the process, but he was able to continue after some treatment.

Mitch Pinnock went in on for a late challenge on Wright – a tackle which really angered the Rovers players but only earned the midfielder a yellow.

Rovers continued to press for a winner with Coppinger and Brad Halliday both pulling shots wide before substitute Alfie May fired his cross too close to the keeper.

The home side still carried a threat and Dieng pulled off a superb save to deny Kwesi Appiah – the Ghana international got an excellent connection to Pinnock’s cross with his head but he was thwarted by a wonderful stop.

Some good build up play between May and Coppinger teed Sheaf up for a strike. The Arsenal loanee hit it sweetly but it took a touch on the way through which took it into Trott’s arms.

Dons substitute Callum Reilly then tried his luck from a free-kick about 25 yards out, it bounced awkwardly but Dieng did well – especially in the conditions – to smother the danger.

A cagey final few minutes from two teams keen to avoid defeat ensured they would meet again in a replay.

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