BY SAM SMITH
A deflected Mitch Pinnock strike in the final minute edged Wimbledon into the second round of the FA Cup against Haringey Borough.
The Dons appeared relatively comfortable for the opening 20 minutes against the Isthmian League Premier Division outfit, but there was a sense that they would need to take one of their early opportunities to settle any nerves.
Haringey were intent on making this a cagey game. The hosts – 89 places below their visitors in the football pyramid – scarcely allowed Wimbledon within the proximity of their penalty area in the first half, instead limiting both Joe Pigott and Scott Wagstaff to long-range efforts which failed to test goalkeeper Valery Pajetat.
And the longer Neal Ardley’s side went without scoring, the more the north London minnows gained confidence. Michael O’Donoghue came close with a drive from a narrow angle which zipped over Joe McDonnell’s goal.
Pinnock almost gave the South Londoners the lead when his free-kick skimmed the bar, but Haringey had a good shout for a penalty when Tom Soares appeared to fell Michael Ademiluyi.
Pigott had the Dons’ first big chance three minutes into the second half when he met Pinnock’s cross but somehow headed well wide with a free header whilst Pajetat was rooted in his goal, almost expectantly waiting for the ball to nestle in the corner.
Wimbledon then nearly took the lead in freak fashion when Pinnock’s cross appeared to be heading harmlessly for a goal-kick, only for the ball to get caught up in the wind and drop onto the Haringey crossbar. Pajetat did well to hold a Sibbick drive soon after.
Joe Staunton thought he had given his side a dream lead when he had the ball in the net for the hosts, only to turn to see the assistant referee’s flag raised for offside.
Pajetat was excellent in the Borough goal and batted away a ferocious Soares effort after he twice denied Pinnock as Wimbledon piled on the pressure in the last 20 minutes.
But the goalkeeper could do nothing as the ball fell to Pinnock on the left side of the penalty area as the clock ticked into the final minute, and the former Dover man’s drive deflected off Tosin Olufemi and dipped into the net.