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  • By Yann Tear at Plough Lane

Dons and Dave Beasant make their presence felt on a day made for FA Cup nostalgics




You simply couldn't get away from him.


Dave Beasant's immortalised image on FA Cup final day 1988 - holding the cup aloft - adorning the programme cover. That slightly dodgy but very heartfelt statue of him outside the main entrance that greets you at all home games. And then there was the man himself in the press box - soaking up the vibes like any other Wombles fan.


Saturday's Third Round tie against Ipswich Town felt like the most nostalgic tie of them all. A meeting of two teams who both triumphed at the old Wembley as underdogs on days when the nation was in thrall of the end-of-season showpiece.


The Tractor Boys' 1-0 win over Arsenal in 1978. Wimbledon's 1-0 win over Liverpool in 88. Ones for the romantics. Games which underscored the significance of the famous old competition.


Ipswich's memorable rise under Bobby Robson which led to European glory in the Uefa Cup. The Dons with their Crazy Gang giving bloody noses to the elite despite meagre resources and attendances.


Much, much, water has flown under the bridge for both clubs since then, of course. A lot of it very murky. Their respective days in the sun seemingly forever a thing of the past, never to be repeated.


Then again, who knows. The Suffolk club are in the Championship promotion picture. The Dons are reviving under Johnnie Jackson, having seen their rise from the ashes of non-league football come to a grinding halt in League One, with their hated usurpers MK Dons still seemingly destined to be tied to the hip in the league table.


This was a good game for the Dons to illustrate the fine work Jackson is doing in getting AFC Wimbledon to regroup and challenge again at the top of League Two. They wanted to prove to themselves, and their fans, that they could compete. And they did.


It was not a case of getting it launched in the old ways that characterised the old Plough Lane heroes. Here they were more measured. Easier on the eye. They resolved to show grit, of course, but also wanted to show they belonged on the same pitch as a good passing team like Ipswich who have stunned Championship rivals just a year after going up from League One.


It was only after a 90th minute strike from Jack Taylor that the Dons' brave attempts to take the tie to a replay at Portman Road came to end.


They fell behind to an own goal but levelled when skipper Jake Reeves smashed home a penalty. They trailed at the break when ex-Man United defender Axel Tuanzebe headed in and looked out of it when Harry Pell was sent off for a second yellow on the hour. But their spirit never wavered and they kept in the hunt.


Armani Little came so close to making it 2-2 late on before the coup de grace.


Elimination then, but much pride on show. Currently seventh in the table, there is no question that the Dons have something to look forward to in the second half of the season.


For sure they are going to miss Ali Al-Hamadi because of his Asia Cup commitments. But this a club built to defy setbacks and come good again. Somehow.

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