Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Anonymous Don Searches For Answers…

This is a new occasional feature (In other words I’ll do a couple then forget about it…) where I examine the search terms that people use to find my beloved blog, find the strangest ones, and belatedly find answer for them. In a bumper bonus first edition I have four for you…

Ross Montague Wife

I’m not sure who would have urgently needed to know this information, maybe a particularly lovestruck lady (or chap… he is a handsome devil, much like myself). Of course there are a few Ross Montague’s in the world, maybe someone out there met one of them at a party and decided to engage in a spot of cyber stalking…

A Google search of this subject reveals my General Specific on 10th September comes up 7th, amid a load of other searches. I’m going to take a guess here and say this may have been referring to the Ross Montague that became Director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance back in April, but to answer in relation to our Ross; not as far as I know, leave him alone, he’s only young! Let him enjoy his football, don’t encourage him to waste his life!

fcum third kit

My match report from earlier in the season, at the same time as our third kit was released, undoubtedly led some confused soul here. But just in case you’re interested… see below…

fcum3

You can buy one here (http://www.fc-utd.co.uk/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1_4&zenid=8c023c4bf1b9faf5dd7bc3bb107f94b7) for £8 less than the Wimbledon equivalent… 

showmeonlylorraineadjei

lorrainekennedy 

 

                 Easy!

 

 

 

Who Is The Anonymous Don?

The question is, would you really want to know who the Anonymous Don is? I mean, I wouldn’t have a clue who Rob Dunford was if he came round my flat and laid a big curly log on my carpet… well, I might then know him as ‘the guy who crapped on the floor at my flat’ but you get the idea, I still read SW19’s (got to keep ahead of the pretenders…). But I get the impression that actually meeting him would be a massive disappointment for someone like me who has read his reports for years… and in my case you can times that by ten!

And the point is, despite the title of the blog, I don’t exactly keep it a secret. The blog title was just a spur of the moment cool idea that has become a millstone around my neck. But basically, I’m the scruffy looking bloke who normally stands behind the home dugout, making notes and taking the odd picture. Yes, that’s me. Nice to meet you.

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Conference Score! Tuesday 29th September ’09

Rushden & Diamonds    (0) 0

AFC Wimbledon    (1) 1    Montague (2)

The Dons roared up to fourth after winning at Nene Park and extending their unbeaten run to seven games. An early goal from Ross Montague was enough to take the points back to SW19 in what was described by BBC Northampton as ‘an outstanding midfield performance’. However the Dons had to ride their luck in the first half, as Craig Farrell rattled the post for the hosts, then saw his penalty saved by Jamie Pullen.

The Dons moved up an astonishing six places on a night when results really went their way elsewhere, only three points seperating Wimbledon from their vanquished opponents down in thirteenth. Leaders Oxford kept their eight point gap at the top intact with a 3-1 home win over stubborn Crawley.

Meanwhile second place Kettering needed two goals in the last five minutes to defeat Hayes, and arguably the biggest game of the night saw pre-season favourites Luton host third placed Stevenage. The pressure is now on Mick Harford as the visitors snatched the points late on with an 85th minute Scott Laird goal, resulting in The Hatters being booed from the field and calls for the managers head once more from sections of the 8,000 plus-crowd.

The Dons return to action on Saturday at home to Kidderminster, full Anony Don coverage continues from later in the week with the match preview…

Rushden & Diamonds v AFC Wimbledon – A Match Preview

r&dSadly I cannot make the game this evening… don’t worry, the short term financial problems are over, this is a more long term ‘run out of holiday’ issue. Ironically I booked a half day this afternoon ages ago but had to swap it as I have a doctors appointment on Friday and my employers would kick off if I insisted missing the entire morning to attend. Hopefully this loyalty will butter my boss up to allow me off for Salisbury, or dare I say any cup replays later in the year…

The irony is this preview is so late those travelling today probably won’t get a chance to read it. Never mind, I’ll keep it short. Apparently Rushden & Diamonds seem to be pretty matey with local rivals MK Dons… well that makes them only one rung away from the franchisers themselves. When you think about it, the two clubs suit each other. Both manufactured from nothing in the depths of an area of the country where football isn’t exactly in the blood, both operating in over-elaborate stadiums in front of crowds way under capacity.

I have heard that Nene Park is a fabulous ground to visit, well I have to say from the photos it looks like a shrunken Premier League stadium, which as we all know isn’t always a compliment. Behind the shiny plastic seats (of which there are far too many on display on a usual matchday) will be the usual steel and breeze block construction, with absolutely no attempt made to disguise it as anything else. Am I right?

It wouldn’t surprise me if a few franchise scumbags turn up tonight… of course this would be a huge mistake, although undoubtedly they would keep their shitty scarves well hidden until they are safely in the home end… The home ‘fans’ would probably love stirring it up too – again, perhaps an error as they still need to visit KM…

Anyway, on to predicted lineup:

Pullen

Conroy

Hussey

Lorraine

Johnson

Gregory

Adjei

Taylor

Moore

Kedwell

Montague

What?! No Sam Hatton? I think this is the right time for a well earned ‘rest’ for the lad, although ironically he seems to perform better away from home. If I am wrong and he does start it will either be at the expense of Adjei or Taylor. Mark my words, you’ll see. Jon Main has developed a virus of some kind, which is amazingly fortunate as it avoids the need to drop him. Montague is in line for his first start, expect Jay Conroy to get the nod at right back.

Last minute news coming in suggests Pullen and Johnson have overcome leg injuries, according to BBC Sport. So don’t be surprised if Brown and Inns line up then…

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Second Thoughts… Histon 26.9.09

First up, surprise and no surprise, Jon Main. Main was given the start again for Histon, and I made a comment that was something along the lines of ‘Main was more of a hinderance than a help’ or something like that. Now thats not strictly true, he didn’t spend his time on the pitch wandering round fouling opponents or tackling his own players

There was something I spotted in Jon Mains eyes after he sat down following being withdrawn from the Crawley game, he looked away at no-one in particular and raised his eyes for a split second. He wasn’t happy with his contribution, thats for sure. Has this become a complex for Main? The guy that could possibly steal his first team place has scored more times from open play in his four substitute appearances, including contributing a lot more than just goals, than Main has in the many starts he has made.

The problem is in his head, thats for sure. Is the best answer really to send him on loan to a BSS club? What will that tell him (and us for that matter)? That he can score goals in the BSS? We already know that. And by extention we know that there are goals in him in the division above. Perhaps not as prolific, but  he can score goals. Its not so much of a leap that a player that hit 34 last season now cannot score at all in the Conference.

On the contrary, his goals dried up in the new year, Jon Main is going through the sort of nightmare that all goalscorers have at some point in their careers. But hang on, it seems like whenever the subject turns to Jon Main, I seem to be writing the same old things. Its his confidence… proven goalscorer… needs a couple of goals… In effect I’m just making excuses for Main, in reality he shouldn’t be in the team right now. If Ross Montague is ready for it, we should see him start to build an potentially exciting relationship with Keds. I’m probably drifting into the grey area between the Histon review and the Rushden preview, not that it really matters but more on this tommorow.

Another player suffering this season is Sam Hatton. Once again, its the same old excuses for Sam, I said his only productive period on the field against Crawley was the time he spent at right back. This time round, he’s given the position as his own (as lets be fair, even his most keenest supporters, and I count myself as one, have known this was coming). Yet, he didn’t quite justify his selection. Great going forwards, but his positioning left a lot to be desired when paired up with a speedy forward on that side who had him for pace and beat him in the air on most occasions.

And I have to say, we got away with it really. It could have been a potentially tricky situation, but no harm was done. All we really learnt was that Hatton looks great going forward on that flank, but doesn’t have the pace of a Lewis Taylor who can launch quick counter attacks. So moving Taylor inside isn’t really an option.

Which leaves us with Sam’s best position, centre midfield, where he can make a nuisance of himself, pick up the pieces, pass it on quickly and hopefully get himself into a shooting opportunity now and then. When he does this its not a problem. When he falls down on his passing, or strength of tackling, people really notice, and that stigma continues with him for the next couple of games.

The problem is, if he is having a poor game every three games or so, as he seems to be right now, then the criticism builds momentum. He can give himself a break by simply putting in a couple of good shifts. Thats easier said than done though, and at the moment he seems to be keeping the shirt through a lack of anyone else capable of playing there. With Wellard just not ready yet, Adjei is probably his biggest threat as he seemed to play Sam’s position well on Saturday.

Another option would be to move Adjei back to the holding position and let Steven Gregory move forward. But Adjei has proved to be something of a liability in a position where if you give the ball away, you create trouble for your team. And Gregory has been an absolute revelation so far this season. Which brings me to…

Steven Gregory. I love watching him play. It all seems too easy for him, as if he can see two steps ahead of anyone else on the pitch. We have heard people mention that Hussey, Kedwell, even Luke Moore might be the subject of scouting visits, and maybe they were. But anyone who has been sent down would have done themselves no harm by putting a good word in for this unflappable midfielder.

A players performance cannot be measured on goals alone, especially for a position where getting forward and scoring goals isn’t really in the job description, but as its something that most of you would have seen, lets examine it as a microcosm of his footballing mentality. Now the ball bounced to Hatton fast, and if anything it was more ‘cop out’ than vision that saw him nod it Gregory’s way. In a beat Gregory had worked out not only that having a shot was his best option, but floating it in the corner would be the most efficient way of doing so.

Watch this goal again, on AFC Wimbledon TV. From my angle it looked good, but as you could tell from my description of it I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing it from the angle that did it most justice. I know I haven’t provided a link, except for the one on the right, but you should know where it is now. In fact you should all have it bookmarked…

For the rest of you, what you’ve been waiting for; Match Ratings!

Pullen    7

Hatton    6

Hussey    7

Adjei   7

Lorraine    7

Johnson    8

Gregory    8

Taylor    6

Kedwell    7

Main    5

Moore    7

SUBS

Inns    7

Duncan    6

Montague    6

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AFC Wimbledon 4 Histon 0 – A Match Report

Only seventy-two in attendance from Histon today, and apparently a few Dons fans mocking them for this. Well, let me remind you that Histon are a village club, to have seventy-two of them make the trip is superb, as impressive as the couple of hundred who made the short trip from Crawley on Tuesday, comparable with the six-hundred odd that Cambridge United brought down. As there were so few I couldn’t make out many of their chants, although I did catch a quick burst of ‘You’ve got no history’…. Seriously, what does that even mean?!

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, it was a good day for watching football… although I say that every Saturday, it’ll probably be similar temperatures next week for Kidderminster. In my mind of course it’s October so it will be single figure temperatures and dark by 4.15… Despite the pleasant weather we only had just shy of 3,400 turn out, a quite poor attendance given recent attendances. Are there one or two of us who only show up for ex-League clubs?

At least the lack of congestion at 2.50pm meant nearly all were in the ground to see the Dons make a lightning start, seconds into the game Kedwell picked up the ball on the left edge of the area and tried to bend one around ex-Dons keeper Danny Naisbitt, his shot appearing to take the keeper by surprise and he watched with some relief as the ball flew wide of the right post. Naisbitt looked happy to be back at Kingsmeadow, even if he didn’t always see eye to eye with some Dons fans.

histonh 002Although the Dons were looking pretty good on the ball, nothing much really happened until twelve minutes in, where the game well and truly took off after a mental sixty seconds. Lewis Taylor picked up the ball in the Histon half and headed for goal. He seemed to have missed his opportunity to get a shot off,  but moved his feet well and struck from the edge of the box. His effort was deflected and seemed to have caught Naisbitt out, but the keeper stuck up a hand and got fingertips to it. This only slowed the balls progression towards goal, and the Tempest End were in full celebration mode until a Histon man appeared from nowhere to hack the ball off the line.

This lead to a Histon counter attack, led by Danny Wright on the left, He looked up and found Josh Simpson all alone in the centre having got clear of Brett Johnson. Simpson had to control the ball before snapping a shot off, and in this time Johnson managed to get back around him and pulled off a magnificent last ditch challenge. Wimbledon went forward again, Jon Main receiving the ball on the left tight to the touch-line.

Instead of crossing, Main took aim for the far corner, his strike well kept out by Naisbitt. Yet the Histon custodian had only managed to parry the ball into the air for Luke Moore to side-foot over him and into an empty net. One-Nil to the Dons, scored by Moore and the assist must go to Johnson for his fantastic block that prevented the scoreline being reversed.

Jon Main had been given a starting place, maybe his last chance to impress while Terry Brown is still ‘experimenting’. Fifteen minute in he received the ball down the right channel and powered into the box. He had a couple of chances to get a shot away before he found himself bearing down on Naisbitt. He seemed to be pushed as he tried to get his shot away, but the referee decided no penalty, and Naisbitt forced his shot round the post for a corner.

Histon were not prepared to roll over for Wimbledon just yet though. On twenty minutes a long ball saw Knight-Percival get behind Sam Hatton at the far post, he lifted his header over James Pullen but off target, allowing the ball to bounce in the six yard box for the Dons keeper to collect. It was end to end for a while as Danny Kedwell caught sight of goal on the edge of the Histon box and stabbed an effort that may have caused Naisbitt more problems had it not been straight at him. Micheal Frew then repeated Kedwell’s effort at the other end for Histon.

histonh 003Wimbledon were playing well, using the ball in midfield for a change, especially Kennedy Adjei on the left and Steven Gregory just in front of the back four. The problem was the final ball just wasn’t there. This hasn’t been a problem for Wimbledon who have started the season at home creating numerous chances for our midfielders to waste. Histon on the other hand were playing a direct game that suited their players, and at least this was creating half chances for them to miss.

On the half hour Histon had a short spurt of pressure, beginning with a corner from the left that saw Jamie Barker unmarked eight yards out, but he could only divert the pacy delivery over the bar. A minute later Sam Hatton gave away a needless free kick in dangerous territory, which although being eventually diverted over the bar saw Terry Brown (who had been warning his players about giving away fouls) to shout “They aren’t hurting us (with their backs to goal), these (free-kicks) ARE hurting us! Stay on your feet!”.

And moments later the Dons back four lost their shape for the first and only time during the game when Sam Hatton was pulled out of position allowing a two on one break down the left. Josh Simpson took the ball himself, slightly over-running the ball allowing Pullen to nick the ball away from him.

Ironically it was Wimbledon who had the numbers on their next break as Matthew Langston collapsed in an extravagant heap while going high with his feet with Kedwell. The referee was having none of it, allowing Taylor to carry the ball on with Kedwell and Main in support. Unfortunately Taylors final ball was shocking allowing one of the remaining two defenders to get a foot in. Taylor seemed to be having difficulties releasing the ball, having previously seen crosses from both flanks sail harmlessly over the crossbar, yet still had a very big part to play in this game.

Histon went on to create maybe their two best chances of the game. Knight-Percival gave Hatton a little nudge to get himself goalside, and with the referee waving play on found Micheal Frew all alone in the centre with the simple task of tapping past Pullen and levelling the scores. Fortunately for The Dons, but perhaps summing up Histons day, Frew somehow managed to strike the floor rather than the ball and ended up taking an embarrassing tumble over it. Dons fans may have taken a deep breath expecting the worse, but were able to expel it with a nervous laugh instead.

histonh 005Minutes later Hatton’s attempt to deflect a cross from the left ended up unluckily falling to Danny Wright, who made the mistake of steadying himself before firing off a shot. This gave the split second Brett Johnson required to get a block in for a corner. Johnson and Lorraine were so assured this game that you wonder how anyone ever manages to score against Wimbledon, both of them brilliant in the air, take the ball from forwards with ease and know where to put themselves when a shot threatens the Dons goal.

Just before half-time, the Dons had a chance to double their lead as Hatton and Main found space at the far post. Unfortunately as Hatton moved onto the ball from the right and went to pull the trigger, Jon Main following the path of the ball got a foot in first, lifting the ball over Naisbitt, yet sadly not only was the ball heading wide, but it wouldn’t have had the legs to reach goal anyway. Main had been bombing around the park, but except for the incident that could have led to a penalty, this incident really summed up his participation – almost more of a hinderance than a help.

The Histon players returned to the pitch, and Naisbitt seemed to hang around on the half-way line for a while until the Wimbledon players returned to the pitch. As warm applause rang out around the ground, Naisbitt approached the Tempest. Maybe he had told his team-mates he was popular here? Despite that he got a few cheeky chants requesting to know who in fact he was, for which he applauded the fans, who responded in kind. Well, time is a great healer…

The first ten minutes of the half was the only period that Wimbledon looked like they would concede. I’m not sure what Brown had said to them during the break, but it seemed to make them over confident to the point that effort was no longer required. Brown himself was screaming at them to find themselves again. Despite the weight of pressure and dominance of possession, Histon only managed one effort on goal, a Frew snapshot which Pullen did well to get down to parry. Unfortunately Wright then blundered in as the keeper gathered, despite having no chance of playing the ball he put a real stone age challenge that kept Pullen down. Despite this, the referee neglected to show a card. I can only presume he had forgotten them, as he managed to make it through the game without showing any, a rare occurence these days even when taking The Dons superb disciplinary record into account.

I said Histon put on pressure for the first ten minutes of the half, and there was almost a symbolic change in the games momentum that lead from a Histon corner in the fifty-fifth minute. The corner was defended well and cleared as far as Jon Main, who beat a Histon player to the ball in his own half. He flicked the ball to Luke Moore who headed across the half way line centrally before playing in Lewis Taylor down the left.

histonh 006Taylor allowed Chris Hussey to take over while moving to a position just outside the box. Hussey found the bye-line and sent over a wonderful deep cross that was nodded back into the box for Kedwell. A defender managed to nod this half away but straight into the path of Taylor who smashed it back from ten yards into the right side of the net, giving Naisbitt absolutely no chance. A brilliant counter attack by Wimbledon capped by a stunning finish… by a midfielder! Yes I know Luke Moore was technically taking up a midfield position loosely based on the left, but Moore is more of a striker, and you would expect him to have netted a couple so far. Therefore Lewis Taylor became the man who broke the Dons midfielders scoring duck.

Straight after the goal, Brett Johnson was replaced by Alan Inns. Johnson looked as though he had picked up a knock, so lets hope he will be ok for the Rushden game on Tuesday. The Dons really took over from this point, Histon looked a little lost, and Steven Gregory took example almost scoring the goal of the season in the process. Picking the ball up on half way, he beat his man to the ball and seeing no obvious passing opportunity, he beat the next man too. On the edge of the area he seemed to realise where he was, and knocked past a third man, unfortunately overhitting it and allowing the alert Naisbitt to nip in and steal it off him.

The removal of a glum looking Main for Ross Montague and a tiring Taylor being replaced by Derek Duncan sandwiched a Histon half chance, Pierre-Joseph Du Bois heading into the side netting. As for Main, he looked like a player who knows he may not find any first team action for some time. A spell in the reserves may allow him to find his scoring touch (unless he has a ‘no reserve’ clause in his contract), or perhaps more valuable take a spell on loan to a Blue Square South club.

Alan Inns was in no nonsense mode. Everything in the air he gobbled up, and everything on the ground he met with force, challenges designed to make sure the ball went dead and our goal was in no danger above any other priority.

Hussey was finding plenty of space down the left to show his worth to any potential suitors who may have been buried away in the stands, yet the next Dons player to get behind Histon on this flank was Kedwell, pulling back for Kennedy Adjei to blast at goal, well saved by Naisbitt to his left. But a third goal was soon coming.

histonh 008Hatton, who had a mixed performance at right back, still looked good going forward. And he had a chance to bury the demons of Tuesday nights miss when presented with an identical opportunity. This time he blasted at Naisbitt, when the ball bounced straight back to him he calmly nodded the ball to Steven Gregory who lofted it out of Naisbitts reach into the left inside netting. A wonderfully calm finish, his first goal for the club, and The Dons were now out of sight.

Moments later Hatton turned creator again, this time heading into the box on his own and finding himself hauled down as Gwillim crashed into him and sandwiched him against a team mate. This lead to Hatton’s momentum taking him well inside the area, giving referee and linesman the mistaken impression that this was where the offense had taken place. It was harsh on Gwillim as well, who had impressed me in the first half with his dangerous crossing with either foot.

Of course. I had previously told us not to expect another penalty all season, yet here we were with our seventh gifted to us in our very next game! Perhaps we will only be given spot-kicks from now on when they are in fact no such thing? Big Danny Kedwell saw a chance to add to his tally, and smashed it side footed high beyond Naisbitt’s dive into the right corner. Kedwell is no longer at the top of the scoring charts as Holdroyd netted twice for Cambridge, but ten in twelve games is a fantastic start.

The Wimbledon fans were desperate for a fifth goal yet the closest they came was from a Hussey corner on the right, whipped in with vicious spin to the near post where Inns crashed a header against the bar (which is probably still shaking as we speak). Certainly not all Dons players were on form for this game, yet key players are at the top of their game right now. Lorraine, Johnson, Gregory, Moore, Kedwell and of course the incredible Chris Hussey can win games on their own, and it is our fortune that we have these players operating in such a manner for us right now. Yet we cannot expect these players to keep it up over the course of the season, and we need one or two others to raise their own personal bar on a regular basis to be talked of in terms of playoff contenders.

Those seventy-two Histon supporters headed off into the evening, downhearted but thankful they hadn’t been beaten by more. Their organised team were beaten by a Dons outfit which may lack consistency, but has the potential to take down anyone in this division – even Oxford as we saw last month. But Histon shouldn’t have any problems this year. There are teams below them who have problems much bigger than theirs, and this combined with determined performances should see them remain in the division to visit Kingsmeadow again next term.

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Conference Score! Saturday 26th September ’09

AFC Wimbledon    (1) 4    Moore (13), Taylor (56), Gregory (75), Kedwell (78)

Histon    (0) 0

Att: 3392

The Dons returned to winning form with a comfortable looking victory at Kingsmeadow. While Luke Moore’s early effort settled nerves, Histon still had plenty of the game until Lewis Taylor doubled the lead. The Dons bossed the last half hour, Steven Gregory and a Danny Kedwell penalty put the icing on the cake, despite former Dons keeper Danny Naisbitt performing well for The Stutes. The Dons rise to tenth place with a game in hand, those three points would take them into a playoff position.

Elsewhere in the Conference, the game of the day saw Cambridge United surrendering a two goal lead and eventually losing 4-3 to Luton at the Abbey Stadium. Luton remain six as the sides above them won today. Leaders Oxford returned to winning ways with a 1-0 win at lowly Gateshead. In fact they extended their lead by one point as Stevenage, second at the start of the day, dropped to third after a very late goal earned a share of the points at home to plucky Altrincham.

Kettering now sit in second after a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Ebbsfleet, the playoff places rounded off by Mansfield who defeated Hayes 3-1 at home, and York who won 3-2 at home to the Dons next visitors to Kingsmeadow – Kidderminster. Elsewhere the battle between the Dons previous and next opponents saw Crawley run out 2-1 victors over Rushden & Diamonds.

A special mention down at the bottom for Forest Green Rovers who finally recorded their first victory of the season with a 2-1 home win against Grays. Bottom club Chester make the short trip to Wrexham tomorrow to contest the fierce local derby with their cross-border rivals.

Match report for todays game should be up tomorrow, so no chance of the embarrassment of being beaten by the video highlights on AFC Wimbledon TV this time!

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AFC Wimbledon v Histon – A Match Preview

histonPhew! All the way round to a match preview once again. The games really are coming think and fast once more. It’s almost a blessing that I can’t make Rushden on Tuesday… not to me obviously, I’m absolutely gutted that I can’t make it. This time it has nothing to do with money. I have more money than I know what to do with now. It’s literally coming out of my ears. Although perhaps I should really use it to pay the bills? Hmmm, theres not much left after that… the perils of being just a normal guy…

Anyway, tomorrow (or today if your reading it in the wee hours of Saturday morning, when I eventually get around to finishing and publishing the article) we face Histon. The village team that very briefly became Cambridge’s most successful club. It’s Cambridge City that I feel sorry for, all those years of living in the shadows and just when it seemed they would get their day in the sun, whoops! The money runs out!

But what about Histon? They had a decent side last year, somehow hosting Leeds United in an FA Cup tie broadcast live on ITV, which they won, and managed to fit in everyone who wanted to see the game partly thanks to the ‘Bypass Terrace’ that runs above the ground and allows a free view for anyone who possesses a vehicle, or failing that a pair of legs (which may come in handy if I run out of money for the return visit…).

I checked out the match preview on the Histon site, and it seems someone is a huge fan of the BBC website… http://www.histonfc.co.uk/news.php?id=508. So James Kedwell is set to continue his scoring ways up front for the Dons, and apparently its just a short trip for The Stukes as they visit Kingston Upon Thames… well you wouldn’t exactly want to walk it would you?

So when most Dons fans think Histon they think ‘Danny Naisbitt’. We all remember when DA brought Danny to the club, made him captain, then watch him persistently kick the ball out of play and fail to properly understand the principle of positioning. Apart from that, he once played an inch perfect cross field ball a full seventy yards from left back to the right wingers feet, which absolutely stunned the home crowd and whichever team we were playing that day. Unfortunately it also shocked the player who the ball ended up with, who if I remember rightly ended up overhitting it for a goal kick.

Oh, and apparently Naisbitt is a goalkeeper these days…

On to the Dons, and I spent a while talking about Hatton last time out (which was actually about an hour as far as I’m concerned, and is probably five minutes for you, dear reader…).This time I want to talk about Ross Montague. Monty really changed the game following his introduction on Tuesday, and that is by now means any insult intended towards Keds or Moore. Montgomery seemed to take the better qualities of the two of them, in other words the fantastic close control and pace of Moore with the physical presence and goalscoring instinct of Kedwell.

So naturally I’m hoping for a front line of Kedwell and Montague, with Moore tucked in just behind. Appreciated, Monty isn’t match fit and was described to me as ‘injury prone’ only three days ago. Well, he is regaining match fitness and has impressed all of us. Until he gets injured again I don’t think we should worry too much. The way I see it is, he could turn out to be one of those players we will talk about in future saying ‘Brentford must feel sick they let him go’. Perhaps in kind of the same way that some of us mention Sam Hatton with regards to Stevenage…

So, my predicted match line-up is as follows…

Pullen

Conroy

Hussey

Lorraine

Johnson

Gregory

Adjei

Hatton

Moore

Kedwell

Montague

I expect Monty to make his first start, and I expect TB will want to experiment for the last time. He’s already found his first six names on the team sheet, as well as Kedwell and (dare I say it) Hatton. Main will find himself on the bench once more, but could find himself staying there if TB fancies Moore instead of him. I got a close up of Main’s expression when he sat on the bench for the last time on Tuesday. It betrayed his disgust at not getting a run-out. Nothing verbal, just his eyes, when he presumed no-one was looking… well no management at least, a sneaky Dons blogger had found his way directly behind the benches once more…

Or, once Monty runs out of steam, it could really be last chance time for Main. Just half an hour to channel all his dissatisfaction over not playing recently into goals. I’m sure there isn’t a Dons fan out there who would disagree with that.

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Second Thoughts… Crawley Town

As I mentioned in the main match report, I had two special visitors with me for this game – my dad and my cousin. So what did they think of it all? Well these two veterans of well over a thousand games each really enjoyed themselves. The speed of the game certainly surprised them, although that may have been down to the bench-side position they chose to stand. Normally their trips to Football League games see them situated well away from the playing surface, so ground level must have made a change.

And their thoughts on Wimbledon specifically? Well, of course they had nothing to measure us against (except for Crawley…) yet they were very impressed by the style that Terry has the team playing. I think we have to be realistic that our players cant always get the ball down and play it – there is a time and a place for desperate clearances or measured balls over the top – but the fact that two Dons novices turned up and immediately noticed it says quite a lot about our style. I wonder whether it was more noticable because of previous Dons teams having earned a reputation for direct football, or just because Crawley took every opportunity to knock the ball up field as quick as possible.

So have we found a couple of new supporters? Well, probably not. My cousin will attend a few games but has to juggle being a new dad with following his team, Ipswich Town. My dad is based in Doncaster these days, and will accompany me to a few northern away games, and spoke of perhaps alternating trips to see Rovers play with adopting a Non-League side closer to home, either Brian Little’s Gainsborough or Retford. Neither of whom play the ball about like the Dons do, I would imagine…

More to the point, both will be telling people about their visit on Tuesday night. About how Wimbledon play fast, exciting football, and how good it is for the money. Which perhaps shows the importance of bringing other football fans to our games. It’s not just them, it’s the good reports they will spread after their visit. Let’s remember that this wasn’t exactly a vintage Dons performance either… perhaps the club should introduce a ‘Bring a Mate’ night for an evening game in the future… Grays possibly?

Ultimately, those floaters not impressed by just the football are motivated by results. Which was why we had an impressive attendance (hopefully a benchmark for evening games…), as we have only lost two so far this campaign. However I would imagine Terry would take the view that we should have taken more than four points from these four games.

My view is, although I’m satisfied with the results, I can’t help but think that on the whole we have come closer to losing these games than winning them. Is our league form, specifically the small number in the ‘loss’ column, disguising something? Especially as it would have been more valuable to us to have won two and lost two… Well, again this is my personal opinion, but I find the never-say-die attitude the team showed against Tamworth and Ebbsfleet as a fantastic positive to have. These were two points that had gone at half time and on 90 minutes of the respective games. Yes, they couldn’t use it to turn Tuesday nights game into a win, but it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying.

So… the players. Well my first reaction to watching the highlights after writing my match report was – ‘Actually that challenge on Chris Hussey really darn looked like a stonewall penalty’. When I first started writing The Anonymous Don it was my intention to describe the games as accurately as possible to those who cannot make it. Now I can imagine some far flung Dons sitting there reading, then watching the highlights and thinking ‘Frickin’ Hull Anony Don, that was a nailed on spotter and make no mistake…’ All I can say is I say it like I see it. If you watch the incident again you can see the exaggeration in his fall, and even if you aren’t buying that I was describing what I saw from my angle, which was not a great deal of contact.

Now I’m a little pissed that I made a big deal of it, yet barely mentioned the two penalties we could have had. Big Fat Tug on Taylor in the box, and Great Big Shove on Gregory. I was half joking when I mentioned a conspiracy as the reason we weren’t awarded those two, which of course means I was half serious as well… I cannot believe we won’t get a penalty for the remainder of the season with the tricky forwards we have, but then again every referee should be aware of the amount of penalties we have received so far. And rightly or wrongly he will consider this when he makes his decision. Not consciously. For all but the strongest willed referee though it will play a part in their thought process.

I haven’t spoken about Sam Hatton’s performance yet. I did mention his switch to right back, and this got me thinking. My theory is this. Playing any other position apart from the centre of the park, you have points of reference. A touch-line to the side of you, a bye-line in front or behind. Strikers can look behind them aware they only need to know where the defender behind them and the goal is. Defenders look forward and see the game play out ahead of them. In theory full-back is one of the simplest positions on the park. You can see everything ahead of you and you always have a touch-line to the side of you to get your bearings.

So of course Sam Hatton is going to find it easy dropping to right back. He isn’t a natural, Conroy is far superior in terms of tackling and using his natural defensive mind to fill gaps in the middle, but Hatton can do a job. He can pass better than Garrard, and he looks much better going forwards (I love Luke Garrard, but I think his days at the club may be numbered… I dearly hope he can prove me wrong…). Compare this with the difficult job a midfielder has.

Even the most perceptive midfielder gets caught in possession occasionally. So a young midfielder will find himself getting robbed more often, right? But Adjei and Gregory don’t get dispossessed that often, and there is a reason for this too, they tend to sit off and pick up loose balls. Put them further upfield, as Stephen Gregory did on many occasion on Tuesday, and all of a sudden they don’t look so impressive.

Not satisfied with that answer? Ok, think about the performance of the Crawley central midfielders on Tuesday (or even better, watch the Histon midfielders tomorrow…). How many times did they receive the ball from a team mate behind them? Most of the time the ball bypassed them on the way forward, they only really got involved trying to win the ball back, or if the ball was won in the middle of the park.

Now think how many central midfielders have gone on to be crowd favourite at AFC Wimbledon. Bolger? A cake walk in a division he was way too good for. Gell? A combative midfielder who won the ball deep, passed easily, and got forward when it suited him. Now think about the likes of Rob Quinn… Jon-Barrie Bates…… Barry Moore……… Nick Roddis…………

All players who came to us with a huge reputation. All played under a manager who liked to see the ball knocked forward quickly (like just about every other sub Conference club), so should have been able to fit in well. Sam Hatton has earned his place in the Wimbledon midfield for over two years now. It would be a disgrace if as just a young player he found himself hounded out of the club by those too ignorant to remember their own playing days… if they actually bothered to step out for a club at all… So imagine how I would feel if that happened and I stood by and said nothing? The kid is only twenty-one years old. Midfielders should start playing their best football between 25-30 years old as an approximation. Hatton has improved year-on-year. There will be a few people eating their words in a couple of years time…

Yet Hatton had a poor game on Tuesday. I was disappointed with him. But thats going to happen, not just with him, but with all our young players. I get back from a game and read some Dons fans opinions, and quite frankly laugh at them. I hear people begging for a ‘big tall centre forward’ when its obvious we just aren’t going to play that way. We have our ball winning forward, and its Kedwell. Then you get so-called experts, people who actually get paid to translate what is going on on the pitch for the layman, claiming that we needed an experienced midfielder. Ignoring the lessons of the past, thats just damned ignorant. If we were looking to win the League this season, perhaps. But if you think this side has no chance of progressing into a title-winning side, after the start they have made…

Yes, one or two of the current side aren’t going to make it. Sam Hatton could be one of them. But he has shown enough promise to deserve to be given a chance. I’m glad we have a strong-willed manager who knows that success this season will be measured on a top half finish. Who will ignore the mindless minority. Terry Brown has a plan, and the vision to make it become a reality.

In reality, I’m less of a Hatton fan than a Terry Brown fan. I trust Brown is right about Sam because all of my instincts tell me he is. I sense that Browns success or failure rides on Hatton more than any other player. I have faith in our manager, perhaps for the first time in the AFC era. Eames sucked up to the right people but was never the right man for the job (and would have won us promotion first time out if he was…). Nicky Whatshisface was in the right place at the right time. I thought DA was great, but only as a figurehead, as a personality, he was right for AFC Wimbledon in all aspects except management of the club. But Brown? He’s a proper manager.

Pullen    6

Garrard    5

Hussey    8

Adjei    6

Lorraine    6

Johnson    7

Hatton    5

Taylor    5

Kedwell    8

Gregory    5

Moore    6

SUBS

Duncan    6

Montague    7

NB – For the two people who used these questions in a search engine to find their way to my blog;

Why Did Danny Kedwell Throw His Boots In The Crowd?

Kedwell has arranged a transfer to Oxford in January, but its a secret for now, don’t tell anyone! Or… maybe his boots had just split.

Why Won’t Terry Brown Pick Jon Main?

(Cough). No goals from open play despite being given plenty of chances…

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AFC Wimbledon 1 Crawley Town 1 – A Match Report

At last a ‘normal’ Conference home game… Under the lights, in front of a decent crowd who generated a good atmosphere, which was good, as it was my Dads first visit to an AFC Wimbledon game. His, along with my cousins attendance meant I could get a neutral’s perspective of the game (well, my cousin bought a pair of white Dons shorts, so I’m not sure whether they could really have watched the game without bias… plus the chips on offer in the bar beforehand might have swayed them further…).

More on them in my Second Thoughts article later in the week. This is all about the game. Maybe because it was dark when I entered the ground (hasn’t done that for a while), but Kingsmeadow looked stunning under lights. The glow of the pitch, which looked as though it had been painted so luminous was it, with fans all round the pitch in a crowd that would have been pretty impressive last season for a Saturday game.

After drawing our last three games I think most fans harboured realistic expectations of grabbing a win. Yet it was Crawley who created the first half chance after two minutes. Jefferson Louis, who blew hot and cold throughout the game but looked impressive on occasions, picked up the ball on the left. He tried to cut inside and power a shot across Pullen into the top right corner, but got body shape all wrong and struck high and wide.

Two minutes later it was Danny Kedwell’s turn to lay down a marker. Picking up the ball on the right, he powered into the box and from a tight angle tried to blast the ball in at the near post. Crawley keeper Simon Rayner was alive to the threat, quickly getting down and diverting the effort away for a corner. Kedwell seemed to be involved in everything going forward for Wimbledon, moments later striking over from 25 yards.

Next it was Kedwell the creator, winning the ball on the edge of the Crawley box when it seemed certain to be pumped upfield, allowing Steven Gregory to slam wide of the left post. Then he set up Lewis Taylor, the next to fail to find the target from around twenty yards, after ten minutes. It would be another ten minutes or so before another chance came Wimbledon’s way (a Kedwell swivel shot from distance flying over), in that time the game settled down, with the Dons trying to play their crisp passing football – yet largely failing, Kedwell having to do too much work in his own half meaning clearances had no outlet. Crawley on the other hand seemed happy to try and hit the home team on the break.

Just after the half hour Wimbledon finally managed another shot on target. Garrard made a rare forage forward down the right, finding the bye-line and standing up a cross which in itself caused Crawley few problems. At least it should have done. A couple of half-hearted swats at the ball saw it fall to Luke Moore on the edge of the area, he hit his effort firmly but straight at Rayner who held easily.

The next chance, well I can’t really describe it as a chance… perhaps three weeks ago when we seemed to win a penalty every time we entered the opposition area. Hussey burst through on the left and seemed able to catch the ball before it crossed the line. Yet a Crawley defender made half a move towards him, he felt the contact and felt the need to go to ground. This was neither a ‘pulled down like Main at Grays’ penalty, or a ‘hauled back like Kedwell at Grays’ penalty… in fact to be honest – it wasn’t a penalty.

Which made me think about Erik Samuelson’s programme notes concerning ethics. As I saw Hussey’s fall to ground (I wouldn’t call it a dive – there is a difference, yet neither could it be described as a slip… perhaps the best definition was he was ‘baulked’), it could have been given as a penalty, we have seen them given, and yet… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing Hussey of cheating, it’s just that he is one of a few of our players who are strong in the challenge anywhere else on the pitch, and yet wilt under any threat of physical contact in the box.

Drawing a foul is a genuine art, in other words using skill and pace to cause a defender to foul, yet we seem to have a few who are stretching this definition to the limit. We have been awarded more than our fair share so far this season, and any referee allocated to us will be more than aware of this. We are pushing our luck at the moment – we have already seen a yellow card dished out to Mr Luckless aka Elliott Godfrey when he was genuinely hacked down at Tamworth. Does this fall into the win-at-all-costs bracket we are seeking to avoid?

If you were looking for an idea of how a manager with a less than perfect definition of what is ethical would behave, you only had to keep one eye on Steve Evans in the visitors dugout. Constantly prowling around his technical area, the fiery Scottish fraudster looked capable of murder any moment. The linesman on his side seemed happy to take his word for a quiet life, and his assault of the poor fourth officials eardrums probably merited a trip to the stands, yet didn’t draw the expected words of disapproval from the referee after his attention had been drawn to it.

Evans was a happy man moments after Hussey’s tumble though, as Jefferson Louis crumbled under a Paul Lorraine challenge that looked nothing but fair. Louis picked himself up to line up the free-kick himself, twenty yards out and central. The Dons wall looked solid and difficult to beat, Louis struck a firm low effort straight at them, and the inevitable happened. The ball hit a Dons boot and rather than bounce clear it screwed into the back of the net, poor Jamie Pullen left with his weight on the wrong foot and rooted.

I have admired the Dons response to adversity so far this campaign, and while eventually Wimbledon came good, certain players showed an over-eagerness in the five minutes after the goal. Kennedy Adjei, who put another superb shift in, chose this five minute period to concentrate on giving the ball away. At least Adjei had a decent game on the whole, there were one or two midfielders (Gregory and Hatton) who didn’t seem to be at the races by their own high standards.

While the Dons didn’t look like scoring at the end of the first half, they wasted no time getting in to the Crawley box at the beginning of the second. Lewis Taylor burst into the area before being dragged back, then Steven Gregory was clearly pushed. Neither was given of course, we probably won’t get another penalty again… Have we seen the beginning of an anti-Dons conspiracy by Conference referees?!

This all happened within the first five minutes of the half, as did a Kennedy Adjei shot from distance that flew wide and high from 30 yards. The reason I keep mentioning these efforts, most of which didn’t threaten the Crawley goal, was to highlight the lack of composure our midfielders showed when in shooting positions. In most cases they seemed to have time yet still snapped a shot off way too quickly. I can’t be sure we will see a repeat of some of the goals we scored from distance last season. Or even another Luke Moore special…

Moore did manage to hit the target with a scorching right foot shot from the left edge of the area that curled towards the top right corner, unfortunately Rayner saw it all the way and pushed it round the post. Then Chris Hussey found Sam Hatton in space on the right, who tried an effort with his left foot that fizzed across the face of goal and just wide of the left post.

Ex-Dons trialist Callum Willock had started for Crawley supporting Louis up front, and had shown little of the form that had earned him a contract offer. In fact it looked as though things had turned out well for Wimbledon, as Willock spent most of the game falling over before being hauled off later in the half. Yet he did have one chance, a strike from the edge of the box that flew at Pullen but wobbled about in the air until the Dons keeper grabbed it.

Shortly after that Crawley wasted another chance as Thomas Pinault led a three on three break, only to tamely shoot wide when he had much better options available to him. The Dons then crafted a fantastic opportunity for an equalizer when Kedwell carried the ball forwards through the centre, and as Crawley men backed off slid an intelligent ball to Hatton on the right. The Dons midfielder got his head down and struck past the keeper, only to see the ball bounce off the bar and over.

Hatton had a poor game, but Brown managed to get at least twenty minutes of a performance out of him after a double substitution led to a reshuffle. The ineffective Garrard and tiring Taylor were withdrawn, replaced with Derek Duncan and Ross Montague. Hatton switched to right back, with Hussey moving to the right side of midfield and Moore dropping back to behind the front two of Montague and Kedwell. Derek Duncan moved to the space on the left vacated by Hussey.

The move paid off straight away. Chris Hussey’s move to the right allowed him to cut inside and deliver a deep cross to the far post. Kedwell shrugged off his man to get a head on the ball, which bounced up and over Rayner before dropping into the far corner of the net. Finally Wimbledon had some reward.

The Dons got their heads down in search of a winner. Derek Duncan charged into space on the left and floated a ball over that Kedwell relished attacking at the far stick. He managed to divert his effort over Rayner, but with no-one on hand to turn it in a Crawley defender had the easy job of heading it off the line. Montgomery was causing all sorts of problems and looks the ideal partner for Kedwell, managing to set up Adjei to once again strike off target.

That for all their effort was the last chance Wimbledon created, in act it was Crawley who almost nicked it late on following a huge long throw, flicked on at the near post that was somehow not turned in by an unidentified Crawley man at the far post.

This would have been harsh on the Dons, who perhaps should have won on weight of pressure alone, but have hopefully learned their lesson as far as taking their chances go. Kedwell produced once more, but until a midfielder notches I would imagine they will find themselves getting a bit of finishing practice in training this week…

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Conference Score! Tuesday 22.9.09

AFC Wimbledon    (0) 1    Kedwell (76)

Crawley Town    (1) 1    Louis (38)

The Dons drew yet again after coming back from a Jefferson Louis freekick that took a freak deflection on its way past Jamie Pullen. A much better second half performance saw Danny Kedwell guide the ball home from a great Chris Hussey cross to the far post. The Dons could even have won it towards the end but just failed to show a killer instinct in front of goal. Wimbledon remain twelfth after a day of draws on a full midweek round of Conference games.

Leaders Oxford lost for the first time at Mansfield, two first half goals enough to win the points for the hosts who fought back in the second half with James Constable’s ninth of the season, both him and Kedwell now join Holdroyd at the top of the scorers charts. Second place Stevenage could only draw 1-1 at home to Grays, narrowly cutting the gap to seven points.

Kettering leapt several places to third thanks to a home win over Barrow, and early favourites Luton are now down to ninth after a 3-0 defeat at Wrexham. At the bottom Chester are still twenty points adrift of Salisbury after their 1-1 draw. along with Forest Green taking a rare point in their home game against Kidderminster. Wrexham’s victory along with Eastbourne‘s 3-1 home win against Hayes and Histon‘s 1-0 win at home to Ebbsfleet means the bottom eight are looking in danger of being cut adrift even at this early stage.

The Crawley match report will be available tomorrow night (possibly), in the mean time check out this report from the ever-reliable BBC which seems to describe a game that took place in another dimension…

crawleybbc

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