The Dons roared back into the FA Cup with some impressive football, but an inspired display from the visiting goalkeeper kept the scoreline down to 3-0.
Wimbledon have started some games slowly this season, but they came out fired up for this one. Good interplay saw the ball fizzing around the midfield five, with Matt Everard marauding forward on the overlap like a latter-day Franz Beckenbauer. Ryan Gray was heavily involved in the early stages and Ursell almost slid Richard Butler in with a slide-rule pass, but it just eluded the frontman.
With yellow and blue shirts piling forward as Ashford defended deep, Ryan Gray fizzed a low cross into the six yard box and Woolner arrived at pace to attempt a Di Canio style flying volley. He connected well, but his thunderbolt cannoned into the hoardings to the right of the near post.
Gray sent a free-kick tamely at the keeper before Woolner returned the crossing favour to his fellow wing-back. His half-volley on the dashing overlap screwed across goal and Richard Butler tried to touch it past Whitehouse, but the Ashford keeper blocked it brilliantly with his legs. Taylor then fizzed a cross-cum-shot across the face from a narrow angle.
With Ashford withdrawing further into their shell in the face of the onslaught, Steve Butler was frequently pushed into midfield behind the three-man engine room. But he was fortunate not to gift Ashford the lead, as his chipped backpass let in Jones, but the startled striker shot tamely straight at Naisbitt. Micky Woolner got the ball hammered into his face from close range and left the fray for a while, returning in a un-numbered shirt having bled all over the original Number Two.
On 25 minutes the industrious Gray finally engineered the breakthrough with a vicious dipping low cross. Richard Butler ghosted in front of his marker and thumped it gleefully home.
Everard doesn?t score many goals from outside the box, but on the half-hour turned his marker to find some room and sent a piledriver just over the bar from fully 25 yards. Chris Gell fired an effort at Whitehouse from the edge shortly afterwards.
Another overlapping ball found Gray in acres in space once more. He controlled it well and set a delightful chip just wide of the far post, which was too well-struck for the flying Richard Butler to connect with.
The half drew to a close without Ashford really threatening, and the ball-juggling Ursell and the seemingly omnipresent Gray were at the heart of the Dons? forays forward. Ursell drove over the bar after good set-up work from Gell and a vicious Gray corner was fisted away from under the bar by an under-pressure Whitehouse. But it remained 1-0 at the interval.
It was nearly 2-0 immediately after the break, as Jamie Taylor rounded Whitehouse but saw his chip rebound off the bar. He then repeated the keeper-beating feat, but screwed his shot wide, spurning two glorious chances inside the first minute of action. The Dons were rampant, and Ursell saw a header saved by Whitehouse as blue shirts piled into the box once more. Taylor was then all alone inside the six yard box as a header was missed in front of him, but Whitehouse blocked well.
It proved to be his final action as he was withdrawn and replaced by Joe Sheerin. Steve Gibson replaced Woolner and the home side?s onslaught continued. An increasingly over-run Ashford resorted to fouling in an effort to lessen the damage and three players had their name taken by the referee in the early stages of the second half. The third of them was Matt Bower, as he punched the ball off Everard?s head in the area from a Gray free-kick. Ursell dispatched the resultant penalty with aplomb low into the bottom right corner for 2-0.
Sheerin was then unlucky to be booked as he challenged the goalkeeper for a Gibson cross and Ursell drew a good save from Whitehouse with a freekick. Ashford had the look of a fighter clinging onto the ropes and desperately hoping for the bell, but the goalkeeper continued a fine display as he tipped a whipped in Gray cross over the bar from yet another free-kick.
The match sponsors stumped up for another bottle of the bubbly stuff to salute Whitehouse?s sterling effort as joint Man of the Match. Following that announcement, with their place in the next round and a trip to Dover assured, Wimbledon stroked the ball around well but created few chances in the closing stages. Thorogood actually had a good opportunity to bring Ashford into contention for the last five minutes massively against the run of the play, but spooned a shot into the air from close range.
But in injury time Ursell made the scoreline reflect the action rather better by marauding up the right wing, dribbling past two defenders, rolling the ball casually under his foot to sell the remaining centre-back an outrageous dummy and caressing a shot past Whitehouse?s outstretched hand for 3-0.