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Play-off ties tightly poised for League 2 loanees

14 May 2016

Tanner and Fosu still targeting Wembley

Royals youngsters Craig Tanner and Tariqe Fosu are both still in the hunt for a trip to Wembley after two tightly-contested play-off first legs for loan clubs Plymouth Argyle and Accrington Stanley.

Accrington and Fosu have the most work to do, however, as they will be taking a 1-0 deficit back to the Crown Ground next Wednesday – in a game that looked destined to end goalless, Tom Beere’s stoppage-time strike finally broke the deadlock for AFC Wimbledon.

Fosu, introduced from the bench in the 58th minute, went as close as anyone within minutes of coming on.  Receiving the ball on the left, he shimmed and struck towards the near post – only for the ball to bounce agonisingly clear off the base of the upright.

At the other end, Adebayo Akinfenwa showed his sturdiness to control on his chest and rifle a shot – again, it was the woodwork which came to the rescue.  But it was advantage Wimbledon as the game ticked into added time – Stanley made a couple of blocks in a goalmouth melee, before the ball sat kindly for Beere to hit the winner.

But before Accrington and Wimbledon meet again in their second leg, they will already know who will provide the opposition in the final.  That’s because Craig Tanner’s Plymouth Argyle face Portsmouth at Home Park on Sunday evening, taking a 2-2 scoreline into the return meeting.

The Fratton Park meeting was a hotly-contested affair; Pompey boss Paul Cook and Pilgrims coach Paul Wotton were both sent to the stands after an intense shouting match on the touchlines.  On the pitch, it was no less action-packed – the hosts went ahead in the third minute through Mark McNulty, only for a Jamille Matt brace to turn the tie on its head before 20 minutes – the second a remarkable improvised overhead kick.

But Gary Roberts had Pompey level from the spot after the break, as Peter Hartley gave away a clumsy penalty.  Royals loanee Tanner was introduced for goalscorer Matt as the game ticked into four added minutes – a couple of gutsy forward runs on the counter broke down with little support forthcoming.

So after their away legs, both Royals loanees now head back to their temporary home grounds… Plymouth host Portsmouth on Sunday May 15th (kick-off 6pm) and Accrington welcome Wimbledon on Wednesday 18th May (kick-off 7.45pm).  The winners of the two ties will meet at Wembley on Monday 30th May, with a place in League 1 on the line.

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