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.
Although 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.
Wimbledon 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.
Minutes 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.
Taylor 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.
Hatton, 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.