Phoenix club Wimbledon reach third tier


London (AFP) – AFC Wimbledon continued their fairytale rise up the English league system after beating Plymouth Argyle 2-0 in Monday’s League Two play-off final at Wembley to reach the third tier.

The south London club was formed by supporters in 2002 after the old Wimbledon relocated to Milton Keynes, 56 miles (90 kilometres) to the north, and was re-branded as Milton Keynes Dons.

AFC Wimbledon will now meet the MK Dons in League One next season after a 78th-minute goal from top scorer Lyle Taylor and a stoppage-time Adebayo Akinfenwa penalty secured victory over Plymouth.

“It’s wonderful,” AFC Wimbledon manager — and former Wimbledon midfielder — Neal Ardley told Sky Sports in an on-pitch interview.

“The occasion for our fans was going to be enough in the first place, from where we’ve come from. But that second half, there was only one team going to win it. We were outstanding.

“They (the fans) deserve it. They had their club taken away from them 14 years ago. Now look at them.”

It was the club’s sixth promotion in their 14-year history and came with Lawrie Sanchez and Dave Beasant, heroes of the original Wimbledon’s 1988 FA Cup triumph over Liverpool, watching from the stands.

Hulking striker Akinfenwa, known as ‘The Beast’, compared his team’s achievement to Leicester City’s historic Premier League title triumph.

“It’s what dreams are made of. Scoring, winning. It’s a beautiful feeling,” he said. “We were the underdogs. It isn’t only Leicester who can do it — we can do it too.”

After dominating much of the game, Wimbledon took the lead when Callum Kennedy’s cross from the left was deftly converted by Taylor.

Akinfenwa made it 2-0 in added time after fellow substitute Adebayo Azeez was fouled in the area by Jordon Forster, demanding the ball and finishing confidently to complete Wimbledon’s moment of history.

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