AFC Wimbledon secured their sixth promotion in just 14 seasons as they fought past Plymouth Argyle 2-0 in the League Two play-off final at Wembley Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday to seal promotion to League One.
Goals from top goalscorer Lyle Taylor and substitute Adebayo Akinfenwa (pen) in the second-half continued the Dons’ fairytale since the club’s formation back in 2002, awarding the Wombles a place in the third-tier of English football for the first time in their history, where they will come face-to-face with arch-rivals Milton Keynes Dons.
Wimbledon began life in the ninth-tier of English football, before five promotions in just nine campaigns saw the club enter the Football League.
But in their first competitive appearance at the national stadium, Neal Ardley’s men went on better to win promotion to League One, where they will face the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield United, Coventry City and of course Mk Dons.
It was Wimbledon who had the first meaningful attack of the game after seven minutes on the clock, although Taylor’s effort was easily saved by Luke McCormick after the ball fell kindly for the Wombles’ top goalscorer following a deep free-kick.
But the first golden opportunity of a breakthrough didn’t arise until the 25th minute, with Neal Ardley’s side once again on the front foot.
However it was Pilgrims defender Kelvin Mellor who almost turned the ball into his own net after meeting a dangerous whipped in ball. Thankfully for him, it only resulted in a corner for the opposition.
Left-back Callum Kennedy was next to test Plymouth shot stopper McCormick shortly before half-time, but his strike was too tame for the goalkeeper.
Goalless at the break; the deadlock was almost broken again with an own goal shortly into the second period, but fortunately for Plymouth’s Carl McHugh, his mishit pass looped over the crossbar as well as teammate McCormick.
Just before the hour mark; the Wombles continued to pile on the pressure, although Tom Elliott couldn’t head home Taylor’s cross.
Sixty-five minutes on the clock, Plymouth finally carved out their first real goalscoring opportunity.
It was Graham Carey who spurned the chance, with his curling free-kick being brilliantly saved by loanee Kelle Roos in the Dons goal.
But just as the Pilgrims were starting to find their feet; Wimbledon knocked them out by breaking the deadlock with just 12 minutes from time, with top goalscorer Taylor hogging the limelight.
The 26-year-old scored his 23rd goal of the season after directing a cross goalwards with a neat flick past McCormick, just after Akinfenwa entered the fray from the bench to win a corner.
With moments remaining, goalscorer Taylor narrowly shot wide as Wimbledon searched for a second killer goal, before substitute Akinfenwa saw his header magnificently tipped over by McCormick at the death.
Man of the match Taylor then had another chance to seal it in the seventh minute of added time, but his effort was tamely directed straight at McCormick in a rare one-on-one opportunity.
But in the tenth minute of injury-time; extraordinarily Adebayo Azeez won a penalty for the leaders, with the charismatic Akinfenwa the man to wrap up promotion to League One from the penalty spot.