Plymouth Argyle completed a stunning second half comeback to knock out AFC Wimbledon from the Papa John’s Trophy (EFL Trophy). Argyle came from 3 down to take the game to penalties where they eventually beat the Wombles 4-3.
Both managers rotated their sides for this tie with Argyle boss Steven Schumacher electing to start 5 academy players along with the obligatory 6 full strength players. Wimbledon had one key target man to look out for, the 6’9 Kyle Hudlin who joined Wimbledon at the start of this season following a successful campaign with Solihull Moors.
Wimbledon started the game the stronger of the sides and took the lead in the 10th minute from a Hudlin header, this was Wimbledon’s main game plan and so far, it was working. The away side doubled their advantage on the 17th minute from that man again Hudlin, this time from an alluring volley which was powered past the helpless Burton in the Argyle net.
Argyle’s only real chance of this half fell to Matt Butcher who blazed over the bar with a right-footed effort from the centre of the box. Hudlin missed a good chance for a hat-trick but just before half-time Assal tripled Wimbledon’s lead with a toe poke finish to make it 0-3 at the break.
Schumacher must have worked his magic at half-time because an invigorated Argyle side stepped out for the second half and really took the game by the scruff of the neck. A Randell free kick was parried by keeper Broome and Sam Cosgrove was on hand to stick the ball away from close range giving Argyle a road back into the game in the 61st minute.
Cosgrove stuck away his second in the 72nd minute with Argyle once again looking dangerous from set-pieces, with the Birmingham loanee scoring a header after seeing his initial effort once again parried by the Wimbledon goalie.
Then in the 76th minute the turnaround was complete and in some style. Midfielder Houghton won the ball back in the centre of the park and drove at the Wimbledon defence before perfectly slotting the ball into Cosgrove who finished first time, completing the turnaround and his hat-trick.
Neither side managed to find a winner in the late stages which meant the game went straight to a penalty shoot-out to decide who would progress.
Hudlin stepped up first for Wimbledon and dispatched his penalty, however Argyle’s first taker Hardie saw his effort saved meaning advantage Wimbledon. Towler and Cosgrove both scored their penalties making it 2-1 Wimbledon. Ayoub Assal then saw his effort saved by Burton with Houghton dispatching his, making it even once again at 2 penalties a piece. David Fisher was next and struck his attempt over the bar, with Whittaker stepping up for Argyle and coolly dispatching his effort, advantage Argyle. Chislet then scored for Wimbledon, but it was not enough as Argyle’s Bali Mumba scored the winning penalty making it 3-4.
Steven Schumacher was proud of his side’s performance and in particular forward Sam Cosgrove and told Argyle after the game: “Big Sam scored three great goals; I think he will be delighted,” said the manager. “I heard one of their fans shouting, ‘Wimbledon reject’ as he was walking up to take his pen – his fourth goal of the night.”
Argyle’s comeback kings will now face Bristol Rovers (away) in the next round with a place in the semifinals at stake.