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Dons XI denied in semi final

13 January 2016

The Dons exited the Berks and Bucks County Cup at the semi-final stage following a penalty shoot-out defeat at Chesham United.

Joe Gater’s own goal and a fine Tom Hitchcock curler had the Dons 2-0 up early on but the hosts quickly levelled the scores.

Hitchcock restored the lead with a fine finish before half-time but Chesham, again, got themselves on par to force the tie to extra-time.

Both teams added to the scoreline in that additional 30 minutes – the Dons through Andrew Osei-Bonsu – meaning the tie was to be decided by penalties and it was there where the hosts were able to triumph, winning the shoot-out 4-3.

Although a victory was wanted, the real take-away from the game was that a number of first-team players gained valuable game-time, not least Matt Upson who made it through 75 minutes unscathed.

Keith Andrews named a strong starting line-up, one which included nine professionals.

The other two places were filled by second-year scholars, one of which was Callum Brittain, who featured in the matchday squad for the first-team last weekend, and he played an integral role in Dons’ opening goal after only three minutes.

The defender played a one-two with Kabongo Tshimanga down the right flank before drilling in a low cross, which hit Chesham’s Gater and bounced into the defender’s own net. 0-1.

Chesham, who saw off Burnham in the last round, looked for an instance response and Ryan Blake went close to a quick leveller with a poked effort from eight yards which hit the side netting.

Tshimanga then saw a right-footed shot blocked by a crowd of Chesham defenders before he turned provider for Hitchcock, who doubled the Dons’ lead in the 11th minute with a fine curling effort from 12-yards. 0-2.

It took the men from MK1 just over seven minutes to build their two-goal advantage but within 60 seconds, the hosts pulled themselves level.

First, Dave Pearce converted a penalty after Matt Taylor was fouled by Upson in the box before striker Blake pounced on a defensive mishap to head into an empty net. 2-2.

Soon after Chesham’s spell of resurgence, Andrews’ side regained control of the contest and Tshimanga almost had them back in front on 26 minutes but his 10-yard strike was palmed away by goalkeeper Shane Gore.

Curtis Ujah then headed across the crossbar for the hosts while, at the other end, Tshimanga was thwarted by Gore after being teed up by Tilney, following his mazy run into the box.

The Dons would, though, re-take the lead with seven minutes remaining in the first half, courtesy of Hitchcock’s second goal of the night. The striker was found brilliantly by Rasulo and he made no mistake with his volley from close-range – a real, tidy finish. 2-3.

After the break, the visitors remained on the front-foot and Powell went within an inch of extending the lead from Dale Jennings’ cutback but his placed effort was deflected just wide.

The men from MK1 were denied from a similar chance on 67 minutes, this time it was Tshimanga who picked out Hitchcock, whose shot was blocked.

Chesham spent the majority of the second period in their own half but they did have a half-chance to equalise with 20 minutes to go – Pearce heading over from close-range after latching onto a long ball.

With 71 minutes on the clock, the lively Jennings stung the palms of Gore with an effort from the edge of the box.

An even better chance to extend the advantage fell to Hitchcock moments later but he couldn’t find his hat-trick goal after pouncing onto Powell’s parried shot.

Andrews brought on fresh legs in the closing stages to help see out the contest – academy prospects Adam Hunt, Andrew Osei-Bonsu and Connor Furlong all getting a run-out in the final 15 minutes.

However, as timed wound down, Chesham piled men forward and with just four minutes remaining in the 90 they were able to draw level for a second time – Blake, again, with the equaliser. 3-3.

The Dons did have a couple of late chances to win the game before extra-time but they weren’t able to really trouble Gore, so the two sides were forced to play another 30 minutes.

Opportunities on goal were few and far between early on in the first period, with Furlong’s first-time effort the closest the Dons came before Chesham edged ahead courtesy of a fine Kelvin Bossman finish in the 104th minute. 4-3.

It was the first time the hosts had led all evening and they had Gore to thank for keeping them in-front at the start of the second half after he twice denied Powell with a pair of brilliant saves.

He was, though, beaten in the 26th minute of extra-time when substitute Osei-Bonsu forced his way into area and drilled a fierce effort into the roof of the net – netting the eighth goal of a thrilling game. 4-4.

That goal sent the tie to penalties and after four penalties each, Tshimanga was left needing to find the net. His effort was low and had power but the inspired Gore was able to get across and save, meaning Chesham will go on to face Aylesbury in the final at the expense of the Dons.

Starting XI: Burns; Brittain, Hodson, Upson (Hunt 76), Tilney; Hadden-Becker (Osei-Bonsu 82), Rasulo (c); Tshimanga, Jennings (Furlong 82), Powell; Hitchcock.

Unused subs: McCorkell, Steele.

Goals: Gater O.G (3), Hitchcock (11, 38), Osei-Bonsu (116)

Photo: Prime Images

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