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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One thought on “AFC Wimbledon 3 Crawley Town 1 – A Match Report

  1. maliniok says:

    Brilliant report as usual! And to think that I was one of those who thought that taking Mainy off was a mistake. Anyway, when I think about it now I completely agree with your explanation and also wat to add that probably those who stayed on the field, especially Keds, Moore and Taylor are more versatile than JM. I mean, he’s a brilliant striker but probably not much use of him outside the box, closer to the middle whereas the three mentioned players can play in the midfield very well and also finish. Just trying to be smart now…

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