William Hill Reunite Beasant & Aldridge 27 years after THAT FA Cup Final penalty
Do the men on either end of the spot-kick save which defined the Crazy Gang’s now iconic Wembley defeat of the culture club expect another upset?
Dave Beasant has challenged AFC Wimbledon’s current crop to carve their own place in FA Cup history, speaking on behalf of official FA Cup sponsor williamhill.com.
The 1988 Wembley hero sealed his spot in Wimbledon folklore after captaining the Crazy Gang to a famous 1-0 win against Liverpool in the final 27 years ago thanks to Lawrie Sanchez’s first-half header.
Neal Ardley will be hoping to inspire the Dons, now a League Two side, to a repeat performance when they take on the Anfield giants again in a third round clash at Kingsmeadow on Monday night.
And Beasant, who became the first keeper to save a Cup final penalty when he denied the Reds’ John Aldridge from the spot, has told Wimbledon’s troops to make a name for themselves by producing another giant-killing act.
He said: “Neal Ardley was a young lad coming through the ranks when we played in the cup final. He will be drawing on ’88 and telling his players to go out and make their own history.
“He will be giving them so much self-belief and confidence from what we did back then. We had no internationals and they were the team of the decade.
“We had come from nowhere – 11 years prior to that Wimbledon were a non-league team – and Liverpool had just won the league convincingly.
“But in our dressing room we felt we could beat them. That was the difference on the day. We were a hard-working side and had good individual players.
“We tried to exploit their weakness. A lot of people didn’t like the long ball, but we used a system and played to our strengths. If we had tried to pass it short they would have beaten us.
“People will always make the comparisons between that game and this one. The teams are three divisions apart now, there’s a massive financial gulf too. The neutral will want to see the underdog win and the big team slip up.
“This tie typifies the romance of the FA Cup. AFC Wimbledon have gone through so many barriers to get back into the Football League and now they are in the third round for the first time. It would be great if Wimbledon could get a result. There’s massive financial rewards for them as well, even if they just force a replay.”
Liverpool have the worst defensive record in the top eight, having leaked 25 goals in 19 league games.
And Beasant believes Dons strike duo Adebayo Akinfenwa and Matt Tubbs, who have netted 24 times between them, can hurt the Reds’ frail back line.
The 55-year-old, speaking on behalf of official FA Cup sponsor williamhill.com, said: “If Liverpool have got a weakness it’s their defence, because they’ve conceded a lot of goals.
“Wimbledon have got two in-form strikers in Akinfenwa and Tubbs.
“Bayo will be a handful for Liverpool’s defence and if you give Tubbs a chance he will score. They need to get the ball up to them and defend from the front. Let’s get at their defence and rattle them early on.”
Beasant has called for Wimbledon fans to create a fear factor for the visit of Brendan Rodgers’ stuttering side.
He added: “Kingsmeadow is very different from the modern-day stadium. It’s maybe worse than Plough Lane. The fans will be vocal and right on top of them.
“They are close to the pitch and it will be a different experience for Liverpool’s players. There’s a bit of uncertainty around them this season.”
Liverpool have been warned not to underestimate League Two AFC Wimbledon if they want to avoid another FA Cup shock.
Brendan Rodgers’ side visit Kingsmeadow in a televised third round tie on Monday night – 27 years on from Wimbledon’s famous cup final triumph over the Reds.
Liverpool legend John Aldridge saw a second-half penalty saved as Lawrie Sanchez’s header earned the Crazy Gang a famous Wembley win.
And the Irishman has told Liverpool’s current crop not to take the Dons lightly if they want to avoid an upset.
Aldridge, speaking on behalf of official FA Cup sponsor williamhill.com, said: “Wimbledon are down in the lower leagues, so there’s no doubt Liverpool should win the game. But it’s a possible banana skin, they can’t afford to take anything for granted.
“MK Dons (of League One) thrashed Manchester United in the League Cup earlier this season, so these shocks still happen. Everyone loves an underdog and Wimbledon have nothing to lose.
“When we lost back in ’88 it was a huge shock. I remember Wimbledon being 6/1 with the bookies, while we were overwhelming favourites, having gone 29 games unbeaten that year.
“We had a fantastic side, with the likes of John Barnes and Peter Beardsley, and had already won the league title with a couple of weeks to spare.
“We didn’t presume we were going to win, but everyone else did. The papers were predicting how many goals we were going to win by. Perhaps that played a part.”
Liverpool are massive favourites to book their place in round four as Rodgers tries to change his side’s fortunes in the second half of the season.
However, the likes of Raheem Sterling must stand up to Wimbledon’s robust approach, according to Aldridge.
“Wimbledon will want to get into Liverpool’s faces and stop them playing,” he said. “They have to match that aggression and passion, and if they do that they should get through. They have to do the dirty side of the game and earn a right to play.
“The competition is close to Liverpool hearts. It may have lost a bit of glamour because of the Champions League, but it’s a great trophy to win. Brendan Rodgers knows that – he will want to go far in the competition.”
Aldridge is still haunted by that penalty miss back in ’88 as Liverpool blew the chance of winning the double.
The striker’s spot-kick was kept out by Wimbledon skipper Dave Beasant as the Reds suffered Wembley woe.
Aldridge, who scored 29 goals in all competitions that season, added: “Most of my penalties that year went in the slot but Dave had done his homework and analysed where I went. He took a gamble and it paid off. The occasion and pressure got to me.
“I didn’t think it was a penalty – I went over Clive Goodyear’s leg – so maybe we got a bit lucky in the first place. Wimbledon played to their strengths and fully deserved to win on the day.”
William Hill are an official sponsor of the FA Cup. For the latest odds go to williamhill.com.