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Ipswich Town overcome AFC Wimbledon in Emirates FA Cup as Axel Tuanzebe scores first senior goal

Axel Tuanzebe’s first senior goal helped Ipswich Town on their way to the fourth round of the FA Cup in successive seasons for the first time since 2010 with a 3-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon at Plough Lane.

Tuanzebe’s goal just before half-time restored the Blues’ advantage over the League Two Dons after Jake Reeves’ penalty cancelled out Town’s opener, which was recorded as a Josh Davison own-goal.

Jack Taylor made sure of the Blues’ place in the hat with his late goal, ending a five-match winless run after Harry Pell had been sent off for the hosts just before the hour-mark.

Nathan Broadhead shone against AFC Wimbledon Picture: Barry Goodwin
Nathan Broadhead shone against AFC Wimbledon Picture: Barry Goodwin

Town boss Kieran McKenna named a strong side that featured six changes from the New Year’s Day stalemate at Stoke City.

Christian Walton started in goal, Cameron Humphreys returned at left-back and Taylor partnered captain Sam Morsy in midfield. Marcus Harness, Omari Hutchinson and Freddie Ladapo came into the attack.

Vaclav Hladky, Harry Clarke, Massimo Luongo, Conor Chaplin, Wes Burns and Kayden Jackson dropped out of the side, while new signing Jeremy Sarmiento joined teenager Gerrard Buabo on the bench.

Jack Taylor scored Ipswich Town’s third goal against AFC Wimbledon Picture: Barry Goodwin
Jack Taylor scored Ipswich Town’s third goal against AFC Wimbledon Picture: Barry Goodwin

Brandon Williams dropped out of the matchday squad altogether.

AFC Wimbledon manager Johnnie Jackson made three changes of his own. Alex Pearce, Pell and Aron Sasu all came into the side that drew at Forest Green Rovers on Monday.

Joe Lewis was absent, along with Omar Bugiel and highly-rated top scorer Ali Al-Hamadi, who both departed for the Asian Cup with Lebanon and Iraq respectively.

After a quiet opening, the Blues saw the first chance of the day fall their way. A Harness cross almost met Nathan Broadhead inside the six-yard box, then Ladapo earned a corner after a blocked effort on goal.

Christian Walton returned to the starting line-up Picture: Barry Goodwin
Christian Walton returned to the starting line-up Picture: Barry Goodwin

It was from that corner that Town took the lead. Taylor’s corner found Broadhead unmarked and the Welshman scuffed his strike – which looked to be off target – off a Wimbledon defender and into the corner of the net.

Ryan Johnson headed over for the hosts before they were awarded a penalty a few minutes later, when Taylor was penalised for a handball at the back post after an Armani Little cross had flicked off Tuanzebe.

Dons captain Reeves duly dispatched past Walton from the spot to level the scores on 17 minutes.

Sasu then burst forward beyond Humphreys before Hutchinson attained for his error in giving the ball away with some strong defending, then Pell was booked for a strong tackle on Morsy.

Just after the half-hour, Broadhead created a big opportunity to put the Blues back in front. He knocked the ball beyond Pearce and got in a promising position, but his strike went over the top of the crossbar.

Harness then became the first Ipswich man into the book for a late challenge on Pell having lost the ball moments earlier, before Ladapo’s effort was comfortable for Alex Bass.

Broadhead was involved in everything for the Blues going forwards. His touch and control was excellent, allowing him to turn way from Paul Kalambayi and force a strong save from Bass.

Town then took the lead from another corner kick. Broadhead’s corner flicked up and allowed Tuanzebe to head home and put the Blues back in front on 40 minutes.

Wimbledon, looking for an instant response, saw a golden opportunity go begging. The ball fell kindly for Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, who had time to pick his spot but found only the side-netting.

There was still time for Hutchinson to get the crowd off their feet with a neat nutmeg on Johnson, before his low shot was saved by Bass as the sides headed for the dressing rooms.

Within 30 seconds of the restart, Town were inches from a third goal when the woodwork came to the hosts’ rescue. Humphreys’ strike after Broadhead’s lay-off was defended by Johnson onto the foot of the post.

The Dons failed to clear their lines and Hutchinson’s follow-up effort was blocked away before pressure was relieved.

Walton was then called into action, holding onto Pell’s header after the former Colchester United man rose to meet Little’s cross.

Jeremy Sarmiento made his debut for Ipswich Town Picture: ITFC/Matchday Images
Jeremy Sarmiento made his debut for Ipswich Town Picture: ITFC/Matchday Images

A spell of Town possession inside the Wimbledon half led to Ladapo seeing an effort blocked, then George Edmundson was booked for catching Sasu as the Dons looked to break.

McKenna turned to his bench on 57 minutes as Sarmiento was introduced for his debut in place of Ladapo. Broadhead moved up front.

Two minutes later, the Dons were reduced to 10 men as Pell was shown a second yellow card by referee Matt Donohue for a flailing arm on Edmundson.

The Blues, looking to utilise the one-man advantage, went close through Harness when his strike flied just wide after good work down the left from Taylor and Humphreys.

Tuanzebe went into the book for clattering into Jack Currie when the pair were battling for an aerial ball, then Walton was called into action to palm away Little’s fierce strike after the Dons man pounced on a loose pass.

As the game entered the final 15 minutes, Town searched for a killer goal. Harness’ cross to Humphreys at the back post was met by the 20-year-old, but was palmed away brilliantly by Bass when it looked destined for the top corner.

Taylor and Broadhead then combined to set up Sarmiento, who managed to sort his feet out in time to get a shot away that was blocked from close range, denying the Ecuadorian a debut goal.

Town did then have the ball in the net, but Luke Woolfenden’s back-post header was ruled out for offside in what would have been the Blues’ third goal from a corner.

An excellent last-ditch challenge from Currie prevented Hutchinson breaking through on goal as the Chelsea loanee looked destined to break away from the Wimbledon defence.

A triple change for Town then saw Buabo, Sone Aluko and Burns replace Harness, Broadhead and Hutchinson for the final nine minutes of the contest.

On 89 minutes, the Blues killed off the tie as the Blues grabbed a third. Burns, having been played in by Morsy, crossed low from the left and was not dealt with by Bass, who parried into the path of Taylor to tap home his fifth goal of the season.

Dominic Ball replaced Morsy in the final action of the game as Town progressed into the fourth round, in which the draw will be held on Monday evening.

AFC Wimbledon (4-3-1-2): Bass; Currie, Johnson, Pearce (Kalambayi 35), Biler (Ball 90); Lemonheigh-Evans (Tilley 77), Little, Reeves (c); Pell; Sasu, Davison. Subs: Tzanev, Brown, Ogundere, Jennings, Clarke, Leach.

Booked: Pell (2).

Sent Off: Pell.

Ipswich Town (4-2-3-1):Walton; Humphreys, Edmundson, Woolfenden, Tuanzebe; Taylor, Morsy (c) (Ball 90); Broadhead (Aluko 81), Harness (Buabo 81), Hutchinson (Burns 81); Ladapo (Sarmiento 57). Subs: Slicker, Chaplin, Jackson, Luongo.

Booked: Harness, Edmundson, Tuanzebe.

Referee: Matt Donohue (Greater Manchester).

Attendance: 8,595 (1,319 Ipswich).

SuffolkNews Man of the Match: Nathan Broadhead. The Wales international was electric in the first half and was at the heart of everything the Blues did going forward. Moved into a central position during the second half before he was withdrawn.