Monthly Archives: October 2009

Chester Preview…

To be honest, there isn’t going to be a Chester preview. Its midnight, I have to get  train to the north from Kings Cross at the ridiculously early hour of 11:10 AM, so have little time to write one before than. All I want to say is…

Chester City FC are being raped by their owner Stephen Vaughan, (ee their forum Deva Chat for more details… http://www.devachat.com/index.php?showforum=2) and what seems like the majority of Chester fans are planning a demonstration on Saturday. I would just like to remind all of you that in the past we were aided by the football community, and at times like these it’s payback time. Chants against Vaughan in solidarity will be a must, but on the day we should aim to assist the Chester fans in any practical way.

We failed to defeat the bastard owners we inherited, but for Chester the battle for the club is still raging. It may be that a from-the -ashes replacement team may have to be formed at some point in the future, but until then they havent lost their fight just yet…

The usually janky AD service will be in place this weekend, I don’t think you will be seeing a match report from me until Monday evening at the earliest. Until then…

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AFC Wimbledon 3 Crawley Town 1 – A Match Report

Are you in the mood for a laugh? Check out Steve Evans comments below (taken from the Surrey Comet match report).

evans

If you want an even bigger laugh, then I suggest you take a quick look at this webpage… http://crawleytownfc.com/newsdetails.php?ID=1320

But if you want the last laugh, this is taken from the front page from the O/S…

millwall

Well I have to say after all that, I’m glad I’m not part of the mainstream media, if I was I’d probably still be in hospital having my sides stitched. Either Evans was on the biggest wind-up ever, or he really is that bad a loser! My money is very firmly on the latter. But I can hear one of you piping up at the back… ‘Why are Evans comments so comical, Anonymous Don?’… ‘Why did Crawley Town feel the need, at their managers suggestion, to put up pictures of what looks like Callum Willock backing into Jamie Pullen?’… Well rest assured, both those answers and more feature in the famous AD match report, which follows after this series of dots!……….

The game started in similar manner to the first game at Broadfield Stadium, in that Crawley started fast and Wimbledon didn’t start at all. Less that two minutes were on the clock before a left-wing cross caused the Dons defence a few problems, Brett Johnson’s header clearance only bounced up invitingly for Jefferson Louis. Fortunately the big hitman got it all wrong, hitting his volley into the ground then seeing it bounce wide of the left post.

At least it didn’t take the home side forty-three minutes to get an effort on goal, in fact Saturdays goalscoring hero Sam Hatton lined up a free kick from all of thirty yards that the Dons midfielder/fullback drilled low but straight at Rayner, the ball skipping up kindly off the turf and into the keepers grateful arms. However Crawley still looked the side most likely, and the nervousness in the stands was in danger of spilling onto the pitch to further hinder the home side.

Around the quarter hour the Dons launched a couple of attacking moves that broke down, but the visitors couldn’t clear beyond their half. Eventually Derek Duncan picked up the ball and threaded a lovely pass through to Jon Main, the hitman breaking clear of the back four down the left channel before striking beautifully past Rayner with his left foot, the ball entering the net via the base of the right post.

The visitors came back, and then some. Five minutes later a Crawley attack seemed to have been thwarted after Johnson’s excellent challenge, only for Sam Hatton to flick a clearance only as far as Louis. The Crawley hitman hit a superb effort that made Pullen work to the point he was unable to gather the ball, instead parrying into no-mans land. Danny Forrest was clear favourite to beat two onrushing Dons men to the ball ten yards out, but panicked and could only stab his effort wide of the right hand post.

The visitors eventually managed to equalise thanks to a questionable call as Louis raced after a ball knocked forward. He appeared to have started his run slightly ahead of the last man, but it all happened so quickly it was tough to tell. Louis had such a head start on any Wimbledon player he had time to slow down and pick his spot, sending Jamie Pullen the wrong way by rolling the ball in the bottom let hand corner.

As I said, I didn’t really see enough of where Louis was in relation to the last man in a blue shirt when the ball was played, but the Dons bench including the normally calm Terry Brown were furious the officials allowed the game to continue. Brown was to effectively win the cup tie for Wimbledon thanks to his decision-making later in the game, but I can’t be sure even he saw it properly. As a fan you want to see the benefit of any doubt go to the attacking side, and as Dons fans we will see those sort of calls go our way more often than not, but at this particular moment it was tought to take.

The Dons fought back. Ricky Wellard slammed a shot wide of the left post from the edge of the box after good work by Kedwell, but Crawley immediately went up the other end and almost scored. A hopeful punt into the Dons box was beautifully lobbed over Pullen by Ben Smith, volleying the dropping ball sidefooted just wide of the left post.

Then just before half time Danny Kedwell flicked a left-wing cross wide , Lewis Taylor kept the ball in on the right feeding the ball back to Hatton, whose beautiful ball only needed a touch from Kedwell to take it in. Raynor knew he was about to be beaten and almost tried to shy away from the effort only yards in front of him, but the ball somehow bounced off part of his body and stayed out.

As if to rub in the general feeling that this wasn’t going to be Wimbledon’s day, Duncan then overran the ball, diving into a Crawley player and seeing a second yellow card for his trouble. It was hard not to imagine that the way Crawley had played with equal numbers they would go on to take the game with a mans advantage. Wimbledon were lacking all over the pitch. It needed positive action from Brown and the Dons fans got it.

The supporters around me seemed to be united that Ricky Wellard needed to be replaced, with Paul Lorraine preparing to come on. However Jon Main was the unlucky man, in retrospect a sensible decision. Keeping two up front would have meant the remaining three midfielders would have to stay deep, effectively meaning we would spend the rest of the game pumping long hopeful balls to Kedwell and Main. Instead the move to bring off Main effectively released Moore and Taylor to use their pace to get forward and support Kedwell, knowing six players would be behind the ball most of the time.

The fact that Wellard stayed on the field, seemingly at Mains expense, angered a small minority of the crowd. Wellard had a dire game in the original tie, and hadn’t exactly stood out during the first half, but with Adjei injured and Godfrey coming back from injury and probably only having a half hour run-out left in him, Brown had to stick with his man, especially considering the possibility of extra time…

I think the problem is, a lot of our supporters see the likes of Wellard, Hatton, even Gregory who has been a revelation this season in my opinion, giving the ball away. What they don’t realise is our opponents are giving it back to us just as quickly on most occasions. We probably use the ball better than any team in our division, I would imagine if there was a statistics service for the Conference our pass completion rate would prove that. The problem being, if you like to pass the ball around, you are playing a lot more passes. It’s only natural that the number of errors would rise too, and I’m sure Terry and the players themselves are making the effort to cut them out. It will be the difference between a team of play-off contenders and a team that’s looking for automatic promotion.  

And Wellard was straight into the action in the second half, lining a free-kick up wide left. Sam Hatton was lurking next to him, but jogged away, for Wellard to knock a short ball to him. Hatton allowed the ball to run across his body before striking fiercely with the outside of his right boot. Rayner was just a spectator as the ball curled away just past the top right corner.

The Dons were working hard to make up for their lack of numbers, but you got the impression that Crawley could cause problems catching the Dons up field and using their man advantage. You just wondered how much they wanted it. The initial answer was, not much. They didn’t seem like they were that bothered about winning the game. Did Evans tell them to sit back and bide their time? If so, against ten men and in a game they had the upper hand in even when it was eleven against eleven, this was a critical error.

Evans was in the stand for this one thanks to his touch-line ban, apparently communicating with his bulldog assistant via mobile phone. According to a local Crawley paper this was an inconsistent method, as the bench repeatedly failed to hear the phone ringing. Could a lack of communication have been the answer, leaving confused players to go through the motions? Either way, perhaps if Mr Evans had been on the bench to start with, his team wouldn’t have ended up losing this game. But saying that, am I not giving Terry Brown, and the Wimbledon players, enough credit?

The Dons defence were alert throughout the second half, well marshalled by the returning Lorraine. While Inns and Johnson had been a more than competent partnership, Lorraine stopped Jefferson Louis being the dominant aerial force in the Dons half of the field. The whole back four seemed to take strength from his arrival, which perhaps eased the pressure on the midfield, allowing them to break forward more and more often in the half.

Crawley’s best chance of the half occurred without any of their forwards realising about it until it was too late. A deep cross from the right searched out Louis lurking at the far post. Under pressure from Lorraine, he seemed to take his eye off the ball which ended up bouncing off his shoulder. A couple of lurking Crawley players didn’t spot the ball until it was too late, a desperate challenge sending the ball out of the danger zone.

With just over twenty minutes to go, Wimbledon grew enough confidence to create a clear opportunity once more. A long ball aimed wide right was just kept in by Kedwell, who played a ball into the advancing Taylor. Probably the unsung hero of the night, Taylor allowed the ball to run on to Luke Moore, twenty yards out. Moore guided a shot towards the bottom right hand corner, that Raynor didn’t sem to pick up until it was too late, the ball squirming into the corner sending the Dons fans into raptures.

The Crawley fans had other ideas however. Probably imagining their side was going to go on and win, it must have been frustrating to find themselves now a goal behind. Yet perhaps a few of them remembered how the battle of items thrown at goalkeepers ended level, the Dons cup of baked beans being levelled up in the last-minute by what looked like half a toilet pan spilling over the barrier towards Jamie Pullen.

In no mood to lose another contest to the Dons on the night, Crawley fans gained a huge advantage by aiming a good half a dozen plastic bottles, a number of coins and various other items at Jamie Pullen, causing the game to be held up for several minutes while stewards cleared the objects from the field and the referee handed a number of them to his assessor in the stand. Well done, Crawley fans! You murdered us in that particular contest! Now, lets remind everyone who IS playing Millwall a week on Monday?

Crawley hit straight back. A cross hoisted in from the right saw Louis get up unchallenged, only to plant his header straight into Pullen’s arms. Then with fifteen minutes to go, Louis was at it again, barging Hatton away before cutting inside and slamming a right foot effort just wide of the left post with Pullen rooted. In fact Jefferson Louis seemed to be the only Crawley player on the field capable of causing the home team problems. Sadly he was getting little support from Willock, who so nearly became a Dons player back in the summer. For those of you worried that Ross Montague might not be up to our high standards, hey, it could have been worse!

I believe it was around this point that those photos shown on the Crawley website as ‘conclusive proof’ they should have had a penalty were taken. I failed to even make a note of the incident, it didn’t seem relevant at the time. In fact it still doesnt seem relevant. In my mind I can see it though, I believe it was Willock who picked the ball up in the Dons box with his back to goal, chosing to lean back into Pullen eventually giving the ball away. Many have mentioned the lack of class involved in putting this on your official website, especially when it mentions they have seen the DVD, and to return to the website later for more details… now I’m guessing by the lack of updates that someone at Crawley has had the chance to view the DVD and found, erm, nothing. Secretly, I’m hoping it shows Pullen bodyslamming several red shirted players, as this will more than make up for the Main penalty incident…

With around ten minutes to go the Dons had four quick-fire chances to put the game beyond the visitors reach. Firstly some good work involving the much castigated Wellard and Taylor set Moore free in the box, but the ball seemed to take an age to come down by which point a Crawley player was able to stick a foot in to deflect it away for a corner. Then Inns beat Raynor to a free kick from the right guided in by Wellard, only to get too much of a connection on it sending the ball flying into the Tempest.

Sam Hatton then played in a ball for Kedwell to attack from an angle to the right of goal. Rayner did well on this occasion to close the angle, the ball bouncing off him for a corner from Kedwell’s shot. With the Crawley players now visibly tiring a long corner from the left was nodded down by Lorraine into the path of legendary goalscorer Alan Inns (in that when he scores everyone remembers, so rare an occasion it is…), only for the Dons most improved player to lean back and strike over the bar.

Crawley’s final big chance fell to Louis with four minutes on the clock. A long cross from the left saw Pullen back pedalling, only for Louis to head onto the top of the bar under pressure from Johnson and his own team-mate Willock. Of course, the referee decided to give a corner…

Not that it came to anything. Dons fans were starting to relax, as were the players, as on ninety minutes Lewis Taylor found space down the right, beating his man before firing a cross over that seemed too close to Rayner. The Crawley keeper only succeeded in tipping the ball into the air, for the man of the moment Danny Kedwell to tap in at the far post from a narrow angle. It was no more than Keds, and the team deserved. The vast majority of the 2467 crowd erupted minutes later at the final whistle, as Brown pointed his men towards to Tempest. However he pushed a tracksuited Jon Main to the front to receive the acclaim, the huge smile on his face revealed his personal delight at the teams victory despite his personal disappointment. What a great display of team spirit to cap a fantastic performance.

How the players will get their feet on the ground before an important league game at Chester I don’t know, and at this point I don’t care. The Chester game should take care of itself. For all the hot air coming from the Crawley camp, lets remind ourselves once more – which of our clubs is going to Millwall?

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FA Cup Score! (Tuesday 27th October ’09)

AFC Wimbledon    (1) 3    Main (15), Moore (66), Kedwell (90)

Crawley Town    (1) 1    Louis (27)

The Dons finally progressed to a tie at The New Den after a tense night at Kingsmeadow. Jon Mains goal gave Wimbledon an early advantage before Crawley came back strongly for the remainder of the half, Jefferson Louis grabbing an equalizer after breaking the offside trap. Derek Duncan’s second yellow card saw the home side reduced to ten men on the stroke of half time, and the visitors looked favourites at that point. An exemplary second half game plan from Terry Brown saw the visitors picked off on the break by Luke Moore, before Kedwell settled the game late on following an awful error by Crawley keeper Rayner.

The big news in the rest of tonights replays saw Tooting & Mitcham overcome Eastbourne Borough on the Conference clubs ground (meaning at least one Merton club has won there this season…). Two penalties from ex-Dons flop Matt York in extra time saw our former rivals through to the first round for the first time since 1977, where they travel to Stockport.

Elsewhere the Dons league opponents on Saturday Chester City crashed 0-4 at home to fellow Conference strugglers Barrow, further adding to the Cheshire clubs financial woes. Kettering overcame a trip to Redditch thanks to a goal in the last-minute of extra time, however Kidderminster weren’t so lucky crashing 3-1 at Fleetwood. Salisbury came back from 1-2 down at home to ambitious Southern Premier club Farnborough, eventually winning through 4-2.

Match report to follow…

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The Magic Of The Cup II

Our 1-1 draw on Saturday has brought the teams together to settle the tie once and for all, this time the Dons have the dubious advantage of home turf, and we all know the reward for winning through (but none of us are talking about it, right?). Actually I haven’t been able to check whether Crawley internet chat has balanced out some loose tongues amongst the Dons fans regarding the possibility of playing Millwall, in the eyes of the Football Gods this could have cancelled their ire towards us… I have registered for their forum, but can’t remember my login details, or be bothered to look them up. I’ve always thought having a closed forum was a sign of a very self-important football club – like the majority of people really need to be kept from such top-secret information.

Anyway, time constraints mean a full preview is impossible, the game kicks off tonight at 7.45, get yourself down to the Meadow and cheer the lads over the line.

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The Winner Of The Replayed Game Between Wimbledon and Crawley Will Play…

Away at Millwall.

 

No further comment is required on this draw unless we overcome Crawley on Tuesday.

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Crawley Town 1 AFC Wimbledon 1 – A Match Report

It doesn’t matter who we play, FA Cup ties are nervous affairs for me. The legs go a bit wobbly, I get twitchy and in need of a constant nicotine fix… and I don’t really smoke that much these days. I’ve long since realised smoking isn’t as cool as it appears in the movies (especially when you spot a girl across a crowded dance floor, then get smoke in your eyes, recovering vision in your streaming eyes just in time to see said girl and usually most of her friends pointing and laughing at you…). Cigarettes are hard things to quit, yet in all other aspects of my life I have cut them out… except football.

To be fair, circumstance helped calm me down. A couple of pints in the pub beforehand where I had the pleasure of meeting a number of Dons fans that in fairness I should have done ages ago. I won’t name them for fear this report becomes as cliquey as an article in WUP(!), but they certainly helped me relax… at least momentarily.

I got to the ground by trudging through and underpass rendered a death trap thanks to slippery pavement and wet leaves… and maybe a poor choice of footwear on my part… Crawley, or at least the part around Broadfield Stadium, looks as soulless as you would expect from a new town. The stadium itself is the shit shaped cherry on the sewage cake. Built on the cheap, all breezeblocks and concrete… It reminds me of the purely functional Eastern Bloc stadiums of the 80’s.

Actually quite flattery pic of Broadfield Stadium

Actually quite flattery pic of Broadfield Stadium

The turnstiles themselves looked like a hand me down from the Premier League, like Farnborough’s Chelsea rejects. Yet upon passing through them, I handed over my fourteen quid, and in return I got… nothing. No ticket, no receipt, absolutely no record of entering the stadium. Even Combined Counties League sides managed to rustle up a roll of stubs to hand out. The true nature of Crawleys, erm, lack of professionalism would become apparent later in the afternoon.

Unfortunately the side that Crawley managed to put on the pitch didn’t match their chaotic administration. While the Dons had difficulty finding their feet in the first half, the hosts took advantage by taking control of the game. Just four minutes in big Jefferson Louis managed to meet a deep corner only to guide it straight into Pullen’s arms. A couple of minutes later a good Crawley move saw the ball switched quickly from right to left only for Danny Forrest, who was a real thorn in the Don’s side all afternoon, to hit his effort wide of the near post.

Forrest made no mistake with his next effort. Wimbledon had several efforts to clear without success, the ball finding its way to the Crawley number seven on the right corner of the six yard box. His fierce effort took a nick off of Alan Inns, flashing past Jamie Pullen into the net via the underside of the bar.

Surely this was the wakeup call the Dons needed? Ahhhmmm, no. They continued playing in a manner that involved a few misplaced passes before eventually someone gave the ball away. Either that or Alan Inns thumped it forward and Crawley regained possession slightly quicker than they normally would have done. Having said that, Crawley weren’t exactly turning the screw either. After a bright start they just seemed happy to contain the visitors, which they managed to do easily.

Ready for kickoff

Ready for kickoff

It seemed like the Dons players hadn’t realised this was an FA Cup game. The midfield was absent for long periods, the hapless Ricky Wellard watching the game bypass him, perhaps not looking as poor as he would normally due to slack performances all round. Sam Hatton was exceptional, putting in probably his best performance of the season albeit at fullback. His involvement in two second half incidents changed the game in Wimbledon’s favour.

Firstly, a rare Crawley counter attack found Louis bearing down on goal down the left flank. Brett Johnson seemed to have the situation covered until an unfortunate slip saw the goal open up for the frontman. His attempted shot was blocked for a corner by Hattons appearance from nowhere, a wonderful challenge that probably went a long way to keeping his side in the competition.

Then just before half time, a Wellard corner was easily cleared only as far as Hatton lurking on the left edge of the area. Easily beating the first man he put his foot through the ball, firing low into the back of the net. Now this was Wimbledon’s first shot on target, it probably would have drawn cheers from the large travelling support if it had cleared the roof of the terrace behind. Regaining parity at that key point gave renewed hope leading into the half time period.

The ten minute break at half time gave me time to experience the stadium’s smoking area (i.e. outside the stadium), and the matchday programme. As if Crawley haven’t been put through the ringer enough by me already. Oh, Red Devils, I haven’t even started yet! This programme… it had a really thin cover page that screws up and rips easily in your pocket. Plus the content… the usual shit. I actually think the same about most programmes but don’t care to mention it because most clubs don’t have big signs up saying MATCH PROGRAMME £2.50 which someone has attached a piece of paper to obscuring the £2.50 and scribbled £3 on…

The second half kicked off with our boys attacking the away end, and it was a different Wimbledon who took the game by the scruff of the neck. It took a while, and the hosts again created the first clear-cut opportunity, and unidentified Crawley man being denied brilliantly by Pullen at his near post. Ten minutes into the half, and Terry Brown had seen enough, removing the weak link in Wellard and replacing him with Kennedy Adjei.

The effect was immediate. Instead of Wellard lazily drifting across the field like a feather caught in the breeze, Adjei stamped his authority on the game by putting in challenges, winning the ball, passing with some level of accuracy and intelligence. Normal things that midfielders are expected to do. We can no longer afford to carry individuals, that must be the lesson we take into the rest of the season. How can we expect to have good runs in the Cup competitions if we effectively play with ten men for the majority of games?

Kedwell in control

Kedwell in control

With Taylor and Moore receiving the ball on either flank with increasing regularity, the fullbacks joining the attacks and Kedwell not required to drop back and help the midfield as much, Wimbledon started to look like the team that would go on to take the tie. A storming Kedwell run on the hour saw him carry the ball down the right flank before his low cross somehow evaded everyone at the near post, with no one on hand to tap into an empty net at the far.

Jon Main seems to have regained his form, and more importantly the confidence that he can play at a higher level. A high ball over the top was well watched by last seasons top scorer, protecting it from his marker as it bounced in the area. Keeping the ball at arms length from his man, he hit a shot from a tight angle that took Crawley keeper Rayner by surprise and unluckily bounced away off the near post.

Rayner had gone missing when Hattons strike hit the back of the net, a fact that Dons fans had noticed. Quite why a fellow Dons fan felt the need to remind him by throwing a paper cup at him I don’t know. I mean, a paper cup??? Quite what thats going to do I don’t know; apart from making you, and by extension all Dons fans, look like knobheads. Besides the fact it was only a paper cup, theres just no class in doing it. We are Wimbledon fans, we are a cut above the likes of Crawley. We were a bit fortunate that someone in the Crawley end threw something at Pullen towards the end, but there is no credit to be gained from sinking to their level.

The problem I had with Rayner was his beard. One of his team mates really needs to pull him to one side about it. Fair play, a few of us (myself included) like to grow a bit of face fur over the winter period, it keeps you warm on cold evenings and winter mornings. Rayner should perhaps be going down the ‘Viking’ road like me rather than the ‘History teacher’ look he is currently sporting… it just looks, well, it looks a bit rubbish.

In fact, shouldn’t we be encouraging our own players, especially Pullen, to grow beards (even just for the duration of our cup run?). Lets not forget, we once went on a decent cup run as a non-League club that made us famous up and down the land, and the bearded gentleman between the sticks made a bit of a name for himself… Plus Pullen would scare the life out of a few lightweight Football League centre forwards, who wouldn’t have come across an albino Yeti many times in their career.

Hatton tries to ignore the empty terraces...

Hatton tries to ignore the empty terraces...

The Dons next attack was down the left, and this time Luke Moore’s direct run caused problems. He made it to the bye-line before his attempted pull back bounced off a Crawley defender, narrowly sneaking past the near post. Another Dons break saw Lewis Taylor break down the right. Taylor really is a sight to behold, watching him fly down the flank, bamboozling defenders as he goes. An intelligent ball into Kedwell saw the big hitman just unable to get the ball from beneath his feet, a challenge from a Crawley man only seeing the ball as far as Main, whose effort at goal deflected straight back into Rayner’s hands.

Wimbledon’s big chance sadly relied on the referee to do the right thing and point to the spot, as Main burst into the Crawley area on the right, rounded his man only to be hauled down by his opponent. Now there was no doubt about what happened, it only relied on the referee blowing his whistle and pointing to the penalty spot. The guy had two hands around Main, denying him the chance to move towards goal or get a shot away. The referee saw it as clearly as we did… yet for some reason, he bottled it.

I have mentioned in the past how we need referees to do their job. We have skillful players who many defenders just cannot cope with. We have been awarded numerous penalties this season because of it, in fact we have been given seven. Yet on numerous occasions, referees have just bottled it. This has cost us points in the past, and could have cost us our place in the First Round.

I think referees are showing a great deal of paranoia following the high-profile beachball incident at the Stadium of Light last week. Yesterday our friendly man in black ran twenty yards, holding up the game in the process, in order to burst an inoffensive tiny yellow balloon that found its way into the Crawley penalty area. If only he had been more thorough at his job moments earlier, perhaps I wouldn’t have wasted two paragraphs moaning about his performance.

The Dons wouldn’t go on to get a further clear-cut chance in the game, although Kedwell again burst down the right, this time firing into the side netting. This infuriated Luke Moore in the centre, but to be fair he hadn’t managed to take up a decent position, so Keds was within his rights to go it alone.

Crawley went on to raise our nerves by forcing a few corners towards the end that were dealt with comfortably by Wimbledon. One scramble saw Pullen bundled over by a Crawley man, who found his way into the book (this was the incident that saw the object find its way from the Crawley end in Pullens general direction… again I think it was a bog roll or something, but why do it?).

Crawley also managed to raise our tempers at the final whistle. First they announced the crowd as a mere 2204, a figure that drew an incredulous response from both sets of fans. Now the relevance of not issuing tickets becomes clear. I’m not suggesting we go all St. Albans City and our directors moan about it in public- thats my job. I suggest we ask the FA to audit this figure. Whether it was an oversight by Crawley or not, I can’t be certain, but it has been widely agreed that the actual attendance was closer to 3000. This means that, purposely or not, Crawley Town have stolen several thousand pounds from our own club.

Only a cynic would suggest that an error in calculating the figures would more than make up for our appeal to the FA to reduce the admission price resulting in them losing a pound on every person entering the ground. And you have to wonder whether in that case, Crawley Town received all the money from their own turnstile operators. I heard talk that children were being charged £4, despite the ‘Kids for £1’ offer being heavily signposted… did this extra cash somehow disappear into turnstile operators pockets??? Purely by accident of course…

The final insult came on the final whistle, when the tannoy announcer reminded us all that the replay will be at ‘Kingstonian FCs ground’ on Tuesday night… Now thats just downright petty, in fact its bloody stupid. I dont think the PA guy at Crawley is thick, I think hes just an idiot, and such a provocative comment is actually a pretty dangerous comment from someone who is only supposed to be there for safety announcements…

Yes of course Kingsmeadow is home to Kingstonian FC, and it always will be. K’s have been my local side and second team for as long as I can remember. But the stadium is now owned and operated by AFC Wimbledon, and naturally I take great pride that the side I support have taken another local team in my home borough under their wing, hopefully leaving Kingstonian FC with a vastly improved stadium that they can use to build their own ambitions.

Of course. Crawley PA guy probably never thought that there was a pre-existing relationship between the two clubs. He’s probably one of those knobs who turns up on the K’s forum trying to stir up shit between the clubs. It ain’t going to work mate… I suppose we can only be thankful he didn’t mention Them…

So its back to the Meadow on Tuesday night, and very shortly we will know who the prize for the victor will be. Can I first appeal that should it be a tempting one, we don’t get over excited. As yesterday showed us, we still have a huge challenge awaiting us before we even think about that…

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FA Cup Score!

Crawley Town    (1) 1    Forrest (13)

AFC Wimbledon    (1) 1    Hatton (43)

Both sides go into the hat for tomorrows draw after 90 minutes at Broadfield Stadium failed to separate them. Forrest’s early effort deflected past Pullen from close range as the hosts controlled the first period, up until Sam Hatton grabbed an equalizer from nothing just before half time. The Dons looked much better in the second half, mounting waves of attacks despite Crawley still threatening on the counter attack. The replay is scheduled for 7.45pm Tuesday at Kingsmeadow.

Elsewhere in the draw Luton and Mansfield overcame Grays and Altrincham 3-0, the other all Conference tie also finished 1-1 between Barrow and crisis club Chester. Stevenage, Wrexham, Gateshead, Forest Green, Oxford, York and Rushden overcame lower level opposition, but a few Conference sides had difficult afternoons, Kettering facing a replay at Redditch after scrambling and equalizer in injury time and Kidderminster having to make a tricky journey to big spending Fleetwood Town. Salisbury escaped with a 0-0 at Farnborough, and Eastbourne required two goals in injury time to grab a 3-3 draw at Tooting.

Some were not so lucky… Staines won 1-0 at Hayes and Yeading, whereas Histon crashed at Hinckley, and Tamworth tumbled out to Ilkeston. The biggest result probably came as Ebbsfleet somehow lost 3-0 to a bunch of Chavs and Pikeys in a field somewhere south-east of Croydon… In the rest of the draw, our friends at FC United of Manchester failed at the final hurdle after Northwich Victoria gained a flattering 3-0 victory. The Trumpton Massive will be crying into their homemade scrumpy tonight after visitors Sutton United marched in from the metropolis and dumped them out of the cup 3-1. Oh, and a team that rhymes with ‘Joking’ stormed to a 5-0 victory at Hendon, who must have had their Under 15’s playing.

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The Magic Of The FA Cup

fcum 005I love the FA Cup. Perhaps I should clarify that. I LOVE the FA Cup. The league is the league and its our bread and butter, but the sheer excitement of knockout competition is really what football is all about as far as I’m concerned. It really gets me down when people start talking down the greatest cup competition in the world. As a child of the eighties, I grew up worshiping the FA Cup. There is a reason why it will be difficult for any football moment to surpass Wembley ’88. When I first became a fan of the Dons, well, I was amazed and delighted that we reached the fifth round despite a 1-5 replay defeat at West Ham – and this was before I had even taken in my first Dons game!

Watching the Dons on TV against Everton in the fifth round in ’87, being in tears following a 2-0 defeat against Spurs in the next round. My amazement as we beat Mansfield,West Brom, Newcastle, Watford and Luton to reach Wembley. Then the big day itself. Queueing forever outside the old stadium. Watching scousers who had failed to gain entry curled up on the concrete in tears. The goal! My dad telling me at half time we needed another goal, and absolutely knowing he was dead right. The second half that seemed to last forever. Driving back to Kingston, standing with my head out of the sunroof screaming my head off in delight. My mum taping the ITV coverage, meaning I will forever have the ‘re-record not fade away’ and ‘follow the bear’ adverts saved for posterity…

Even in the AFC era, we have had milestones to reach. That first cup run coming to an end at home to Thurrock, much to our amazement. Finally reaching the final qualifying round last year, then going one stage further for a televised first round match. This year, starting in that same fourth qualifying round, the stakes are higher. Drawing a fellow Conference side is not the easiest draw, but one we must overcome. Besides, there are new milestones to achieve. Beating a Football League club. Reaching the third round. Drawing a Premier or Championship club away from home…

Perhaps that is why my dreams have been littered with AFC Wimbledon players over the last day or so. Not obviously of course, these are dreams and they need some interpretation. Which explains why I have dreamed of the following this week; An orangutang (James Pullen), a bronze Roman statue of a soldier (Danny Kedwell), a potato (Jon Main?), Lake Geneva (Jay Conroy), Sweep (Terry Brown), a rabbit caught in headlights (Sam Hatton).

So tommorow, nervous much. More than the first day of the season thats for sure, all those dreams of exciting cup away games and televised ties (with the added bonus of being able to earn a shed load of money…) could have vanished by 4.45 tomorrow, the name of our hosts firmly stamped on ball 68 when the draw comes around. Oh, by the way, as you all know the draw is actually fixed and has already taken place. My sources at Soho Square have tipped me of that the winner of this tie will face Kettering or Redditch United at home in the First Round Proper. You heard it here first.

So Dons fans out there, regular readers and those that stumbled upon the article and probably wished they hadn’t, I have but one message for you. Lets turn it into a home game. Its only down the road, if you are still 50/50 COME ON! Its the FA Cup, for fucks sake! The world famous FA Cup, the competition that put Wimbledon on the map for reasons other than tennis. If you were planning to boycott, DON’T! There is still time. Lets get a good 1500 turnout like at Maidstone last year, and lets cheer the lads into the First Round and beyond…

Finally if there was any reason to turn up that hasn’t yet been explored, lets not forget Crawley are effectively Steve Evans FC, aka Convicted in court of cheating football and every one of us who has ever paid our taxes. This is a foul, odious man. How would we feel if they went through and went on to play Leeds on TV, and his fat bastard mug appeared in homes across the country? Sorry to any Crawley fans tuning in (but seriously, what did you expect) but the man is scum, and by extention so are his team. Lets do the competition a favour and remove him from it at the first possible opportunity.

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The General Specific (Wednesday 21st October ’09)

First off, a great big MASSIVE congratulations to Chris Hussey, who last night made his debut for Coventry City in their 2-0 defeat at Cardiff. Hussey came on as a substitute midway through the second half and has apparently been given the number 14 shirt, which suggests Coleman sees him as a relatively important squad member.

The bad news is that this proves my theory that the Universe that we live in is nothing other than the physical manifestation of a dream the twelve year old Hussey is currently having. His alarm is going to go off shortly, and we shall all explode into nothingness, as young Hussey sits up and rubs his eyes, his only memory being a seven-foot tall furry creature with an oversized ball on a football field, and several hundred Cardiff fans ‘doing the Hussey’ (http://www.cardiffcity-mad.co.uk/news/loadrprt.asp?cid=MTCH&id=468916).

Hopefully our existence will last long enough for us to find out our FA Cup fate on Saturday. Now the Admission War with Crawley has been won (or did we lose?) and the FA has set the price (£14 terrace, £17 seat), we can focus on the football. I hope those whose self-righteous reluctance to travel over an amount of money so trivial it wouldn’t even buy you half a pint in most town centre pubs are going to make the journey, the underlying rumble of dissatisfaction actually helps the atmosphere thanks to encouraging long-retired singers like myself to make a comeback if only to drown them out.

Our visitors are obviously looking to coin it in, and if you feel your being ripped off by them, reclaim the money by keeping it in your pocket when you pass the guy selling programmes or the burger van. More on the game itself in an FA Cup preview special I am planning on writing (but don’t hold your breath after recent form…).

The reserves played Metropolitan Police last night, Terry allowing Brown, Adjei, Judge, Wellard and Montague some game time. All got a full ninety minutes under their belts except Adjei, who was subbed just after the hour. Wellard even managed to score to give the Ressies an eleventh minute lead, but was overshadowed by our second string goal machine Elton Gjoni. Gjoni himself found that, for once, he didn’t have the funniest name on the pitch; the Met goalscorer Dave Banjo hoping to strum up some interest in his form with their consolation – perhaps hoping to be plucked by their first team soon?

The U18s are involved in FA Youth Cup action away to Tilbury as I write… the winners face a home tie against Sutton or Margate (who play tomorrow) – expect an update later tonight featuring the result of that one. The ladies crashed out of their FA competition with a 0-5 thumping at Aldershot. Lets hope then that the first team can continue their adventure… actually I think I’m coming down with something. I’m feeling anxious, nervy, sweating slightly and have the shakes… could this be… Cup fever I’m coming down with???

NB – The Anonymous Don would like to apologise for the lame ‘cup fever’ joke. I had no idea how to end the piece, and in my defense all I can say is I was tired and emotional when I wrote it (just two minutes ago…). Rest assured, I will work tirelessly to avoid such errors of judgement in future, which has soiled my good reputation, and I hope my actions have not damaged the reputation of the wider fanbase.

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AFC Wimbledon 1 Kettering Town 2 – A Match Report

If you were frustrated about the Kidderminster game, you would have been pulling your hair out over this one. However thinking back (not that far) to the reverse fixture, despite the euphoria over a memorable performance we were quite lucky to get away with the points in the end… and this game was a mirror of it. Perhaps in my mind, being as it is drenched in blue and yellow blood, we made a better fist of our attempted comeback than they did in the corresponding fixture? Either way, a win and a loss is better than two draws in terms of points gained…

That doesn’t mean I’ve come to terms with this defeat. Hell, I haven’t got round Eastbourne beating us in our second game. Thankfully defeats have been as rare this season as they were last, yet despite the end-to-end excitement and proper sense that any game we play could go either way I still find myself begrudging our victors. Especially as their goalkeeper was a former franchise cuntbag. I don’t think I even mentioned it the first time around, yet yesterday it seemed to rub salt into the wound.

Those that bleat on about how we should have ‘got over it’ by now clearly have no idea what its like to be a Wimbledon supporter. No matter how good things are going at Kingsmeadow (or fingers crossed any future Dons stadium…) we are always going to be reminded of that betrayal. Presumably those big brave Kettering supporters who were chanting ‘MK Dons’ at us after the final whistle where aware of this, as they went strangely quiet when forced to mix with 3500 Dons fans in Jack Goodchild Way.

The match sponsors were Kick It Out, a worthy organisation, and you wonder whether they actually paid for the privilege or we gave it up for free. I would hope the latter, as it is their One Game, One Community initiative I gather they are sponsoring a number of games over two weekends. After the ‘misunderstanding’ against Lincoln in the cup last season I would have thought the message would have been better aimed at the visitors, but that would be to ignore the fact the Dons named a side whiter than a BNP wives coffee morning thanks to the absence of Derek Duncan (missing-presumed-injured) and Kennedy Adjei (unused substitute despite his flag flying in the Tempest).

Chris Hussey took the field before the game to a warm applause to thank us all following his move to Coventry. Think we might have laid it on a little thick with all the future England international talk, but the good news is the fee appears to justify his potential. Numbers in the high five figures have been bandied about by those who would know better than exaggerate, with the potential fee possibly worth six figures to the club. This is good news when it has been reported that Sven Goran Eriksson is lining up a move for Danny Kedwell… I have to say I haven’t seen Sven at the Meadow this season (not our Meadow anyway) although needless to say we would require six figures up front from that particular club for that particular player…

But back to Hussey. He must have noticed, as presumably we all did, how much he is going to be missed on the field. As Duncan was absent, Johnson took over at left back with Inns filling in at centre half. Brett Johnson is more of an out and out defender however, and a lack of support on the left side was obvious from the start. Luke more frequently found himself short of options when attacking that flank, almost as if he was still expecting Hussey to come bombing past him to send over that killer ball. I think it mattered enough that we would have won this game had we still had Hussey, so getting Duncan playing regularly and/or having a decent backup on the left side of midfield must be a priority.

Did Hussey’s absence have an impact on the result? At first you may think thats clutching at straws, but as a Don’s blogger I have to at least examine the claims… The start of the match certainly showed we weren’t creating as many chances as the visitors despite having the same amount of territory and possession, yet when the ball found its way to Luke Moore on the left he looked short of options, almost as if he was waiting for a blue shirted number 3 to bomb past him (if not to pass the ball to then at least to create some space for himself).

Big Exodus Geoghaghon was playing just in front of the Kettering back four allowing him the freedom to roam the midfield and pick up the aerial balls dropping in the midfield area, and he created the games first chance. His header was picked up by Francis Green who struck a woeful effort well wide from 25 yards. Moments later it was Moses Ashekodis turn, finding space while running at Inns to screw wide of the left post. Neither chance threatened the Don’s goal, but it was a sign of the dangers to come for Wimbledon.

Ashekodis came a lot closer moments later, his fierce effort palmed upwards by Pullen who then collected the loose ball. Hopes were briefly raised when Wimbledon put together a decent move at last, and it was no surprise that it came down the right (which looks as though it could be the new left since Hussey’s departure…). Kedwell and Taylor combined well on the flank, the ball being fed through to Hatton, who could have shot but obviously didn’t trust his left foot enough and instead rolled in Luke Moore. The angle was against Moore, who tried to pull the ball back only to see it bounce off a defender and land fortunately in the Kettering goalkeepers arms.

Sadly this didn’t start a new wave of Dons pressure, Kettering instead winning a throw on the left. Geoghaghon launched a huge throw towards the six yard box which led to a mass outbreak of sheer panic among the Wimbledon men, the ball eventually being tucked into the bottom left corner past a helpless Pullen and gift the visitors the lead. The home fans barely had time to take this in before Danny Thomas picked up the ball twenty five yards out. Boosted by the confidence of having just taken the lead he smashed a superb dipping effort over the helpless Pullen, the Don’s net bulging for the second time in ninety seconds and the Wimbledon fans facing up to the fact the game could already have slipped away as those occupying the away section erupted.

Just moments after that Wimbledon won a corner. Played short to Hatton, the Don’s midfielder hit a deep cross that confused Harper into believing the ball was about to safely drift out for a goal kick. He didn’t realise Kedwell had other ideas, floating a header back over the keeper who had wandered out of position, for Jon Main to have the easiest job of grabbing his third goal from open play in two games, and his sixth overall this season.

With three quarters of the game still to play, Wimbledon fans could have been forgiven for thinking their side would come back to claim a point, maybe all three. They could have been right in doing so as their side blew a fantastic chance to level the scores on the half hour. Kedwell picked up the ball on the left side of goal and attacked the penalty area with wonderful directness, dancing round a defender before squaring for Main at the near post. The man of the moment seemed certain to score with any kind of contact, yet his stabbed effort just floated into the air before caressing the crossbar on the opposite side of goal and being thumped clear by a grateful Kettering man.

The Dons looked fired up, but they had to ride out the rest of the half, Kettering forcing a number of throws and corners. Their best chance to extend the lead came just before half time, Askekodis combining with Thomas for the latter to drag a shot across the face of goal. Half time came, and a familiar face appeared next to me having experienced the Tempest End for the first time. While he enjoyed the experience, he moved partly down to the unnecessary swearing all around him – yet perhaps standing next to me was a mistake, as the Anonymous Don spent much of the half having a Tourettes-like fit due to shear frustration.

It all started well enough, a Hatton corner on the right drilled low towards Alan Inns, who managed to get under the ball and float it well over the bar. The visitors held out well for the next ten minutes or so, in fact creating a chance themselves for Thomas who got free in the right side of the area only for Pullen to make a solid upright save. The hour mark saw the now traditional Terry Brown substitution – you wonder whether Brown is actually being controlled by a bored fourteen year old in another dimension who always makes his first sub at this point… This time around the fourteen year old must have been drunk, as I’m not sure why anyone would choose to remove the solid Conroy for Ricky Wellard, seeing the youngster fit into midfield and the veteran (by comparison) Hatton drop back to Conroy’s position.

Actually, thats unfair. I knew what Brown was trying to do, he wanted a more attacking fullback to pick up the pace down the right, with someone hungry to liven the midfield up Wellard moved to the left yet even without the wonderful power of hindsight you maybe would have expected the more confident Kennedy Adjei would have been more at home in this position. Wellard needed a chance in the first team however, and very nearly found an equalizer with virtually his first touch. Hatton got forward down the right as expected and stood a wonderful ball just begging to be buried by Wellard, whose downward header gave Harper no chance but somehow sneaked past the right post (well, there was a little licence used there. I was right behind the header so sadly knew it was destined to drift wide as soon as it left his head… there was no ‘somehow’ about it!).

A minute or so later Hatton created another chance, this time sliding the ball behind the back four for Jon Main to use his pace and get clear. Last seasons top scorer hit a fierce shot that was too close to the keeper, who touched it over for a corner. Then it was Luke Moore’s chance to shine. Receiving the ball with time about twenty yards out, Moore could have picked either side to place his effort but managed to guide his effort towards the portly Kettering custodian. Harper, perhaps down to the level of abuse he was receiving from the Tempest, still managed not to gather it cleanly and for a split second it looked as though he was going to fall over and allow it to trickle over the line. Yet, and further proof if it was required that billions of Christians are wasting their lives and there is no God, he actually managed to gather it quite easily in the end.

While it looked like any shot on target that wasn’t a yard either side of Harper might find the net, the Dons chances were becoming more and more rare – hence my frustration, triggered by a number of free kicks given the visitor’s way with little contact being made by the likes of renowned football hard men such as Wellard and Moore. Don’t I remember this happened a couple of weeks ago? Is it only when we are chasing the game that referees turn against us? I know, I’ve been watching the game way too long to pretend I don’t know the answer to that…

With twenty minutes of the game to play, Kedwell picked up the ball in the box on the right, outmuscled his marker despite being pulled all over the place (and perhaps would have been better off letting himself be tugged to the ground) and smashed an effort across the face of goal and wide. I found my anger rising as the final whistle approached, and the time flew by. The home sides last chance came with two minutes remaining, and just about summed up the day. A Moore cross was just missed by Lewis Taylor, striking the unfortunate Wellard before bouncing wide of the right post, away for a goal kick.

The frustration was caused mostly by the knowledge that we could and should have taken at least a point from a side that are up there in the table, yet didn’t look as though they were any better than us. Two months into the season we are still losing games thanks to the experience of our opponents. Kettering had a years head start on us – it didn’t show in August, but it has now.

Heading into a big FA Cup game this coming Saturday, that is a lesson we could do well to learn, and fast. If we are to do well in the Cups this year (and bear in mind there are only two of them this season) we obviously cannot let Crawley take the sort of advantage they did at Kingsmeadow last month. Don’t get me wrong, Crawley are an inferior side to Kettering, and it may be easy to imagine that they have had their chance against us for the season. That old cliche of the Cup being a great leveller only applies if the superior side allows complacency to get in the way…

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