Rotherham United Academy suffered late heartache in the 2019/20 EFL Youth Alliance Cup final, as a late goal from Dons’ goalkeeper Matthew Cox saw the visitors take the trophy back with them to South London.
Both sides had opportunities to score in a lively final, with Jerome Greaves going closest for the Millers with eight minutes to go. The striker latched on to the rebound following a smart Cox save from George Scott’s strike, but saw his effort cannon agonisingly off the woodwork.
With the two teams pressing for the opener, it was the Dons who found it, In bizarre fashion. A long-ball over the top from Cox deceived Millers’ stopper Elliot Ellis who could not prevent it from finding its way into the goal.
It was the away side who had the first big chance of the game and it took a stunning double save from Ellis to keep parity. Firstly, he got down to thwart Tory Chiabi, who beat the offside trap to go through one-on-one with the Millers’ stopper. Then, he got up well to deny Obed Yeboah on the follow-up.
The Millers best chance of the half came on the half hour mark, when Ethan Kenny latched on to Nathan Exton’s ball over the top. The forward took the ball away from Ethan Sutcliffe with a deft touch, before attempting to lob Cox, but the ‘keeper was equal to it.
HALF TIME | Academy 0 v 0 AFC Wimbledon
The second period started off in the same fashion as the first, with both sides pressing for the opening goal. It was the visitors who had the first big opportunity of the half, with an hour on the clock.
Luke Jenkins met Chiabi’s cross with a powerful header, which looked destined for the top corner. However, Ellis was there with a strong arm to claw the ball out of the goal and away to safety.
With 82 minutes gone, Greaves thought he’d won it for the home side. George Scott found himself with time and space in the area after being played through by Mackenzie Warne, but Cox denied him with a smart save. The ball fell to the striker, but he could only smash his powerful strike off the woodwork.
With both sides pressing for the winner, it was the Dons who nicked it right at the death, with an extraordinary goal. Ellis misjudged Cox’s clearance and despite scrambling back, he couldn’t prevent the ball from trickling over the line, as the visitors were crowned the 2019/20 EFL FA Youth Alliance Cup champions.
FULL TIME | Academy 0 v 1 AFC Wimbledon
Academy | Ellis; Makwedza, Skerritt, Smith, Exton; McGuckin, Warne, Scott, Durose; Kenny (Booth 66’); Greaves. Subs: Ford, Hanley, Greenhouse, Watson.
Unused | Ford, Hanley, Greenhouse, Watson.
AFC Wimbledon | Cox, Sasu (Kawa 83’), Chiabi (Hallard 59’), Frimpong, Ogundere, Alli, Sutcliffe, Jenkins, Yeboah (Bartley 66’), Sarimento-Ramirez, Adjel-Ramirez
Unused | Jones, Olabanjo.