Monthly Archives: July 2010

Tiverton 1 AFC Wimbledon 2

A Dons XI beat Tiverton 2-1 tonight in the first of our mini-tour of Devon. A Wimbledon second string came from a goal down to defeat the hosts thanks to goals from Douglin and Gondwe. I need to get up early to travel down to Exeter in the morning, which will hopefully explain the shortness of this post!

AFC Wimbledon 2 Kingstonian 0

One of the benefits of being not-exactly-bang-up-to-date with the match report this time around means I get to comment on what followed, equally more important than history will view the game itself. Not that the game was junk, far from it, it was pretty watchable, mainly due to the Dons starting with a less than strong side… however one that more than matched a spirited Kingstonian side.

I have a feeling Terry Brown would have been delighted with the attitude K’s brought into the game, playing decent football and injecting a bit of much-needed pace into what could otherwise have been a bit sterile… think Corinthian Casuals in the second half… not what we really need with the season but two weeks away… And with a few players missing, you can only presume there will be a lot more to Kingstonian next season – once this report has been written Ill scurry off to the Ks site to find when their big derby against the small group of former (and one current) Dons over at Sutton, and desperately hoping it doesn’t clash with a Dons game…

With a bit of luck K’s could have gone in at half time with a lead, yet the same could be said of the young Dons, with trialist strikers Delano Sam-Yorke and Orlando Smith looking lively on occasions. In midfield, youth team graduate Harry Knock looked tidy, as did Reece Jones – more on him later. As K’s tired in the second period, Wimbledon brought on the big guns, and it paid off when Rashid Yussuff threaded the ball through for Jon Main to clip expertly into the roof of the net. Lee Minshull impressed again, and grabbed another pre-season goal to improve his ever , erm, improving (where’s a thesaurus when you need one?) reputation. It was a scrappy finish, but once again he found himself in the right place at the right time… a habit we can only hope he carries with him into the season proper…

So, on to the trialists. As you are now probably aware, both Fraser Franks and Ed Harris have signed up for the season, with Delano Sam-Yorke also joining after Terry finally got his hands on that much-needed Premier League money for the budget. Twenty players, or eighteen outfield players, is a more comfortable number going into a long campaign, yet if I was Terry I would be hoping for a cup run in order to get hold of some surplus for the budget come January in order to bring in some fresh blood. As I’ve said before, squad building should never be ‘complete’, Terry should always be looking to add to his hand.

But back to our new signings. Johnson and Yakubu will be our first choice pairing, I have no doubt about that, but Franks and Harris really impressed me and I am satisfied we have both at the club. In fact, I think Terry might have had a job separating the pair if there is only one place up for grabs. As for Sam-Yorke, well we now have satisfactory cover for the three attacking positions, and Sam-Yorke has shown he can do a job for us in the Conference next season. And with time on his side, a gain in squad depth this season could become a jewel in years to come too.

Lets talk about someone who hasn’t been signed yet, and looks as though he may miss out, and that’s Reece Jones. Now Reece was a player that really made me sit up and take notice, not because he was an all action goalscoring midfielder or tough ball winner, but he showed a technical ability that matched anyone we have had at this club in the AFC era. I’m sure if Terry had money left over he would have signed him – in fact if Steven Gregory’s injury had been any worse he would have taken him, I have no doubt about that. Terry would have done without Sam-Yorke and just gambled on Harmsworth to cover injuries. But the one position we can do without right now is midfield, the two centre halves were must-buys in my opinion… and with two weeks of pre-season remaining it leaves us in a position where there is cover in the squad for every position.

Lets get Gregory fit, let’s get Nwokeji back firing again, and let’s go out and show the rest of the Conference how our young players play football. This is the side that’s going to put the fear of god into some big money sides over the next three or four years (or however long it takes to get out of this division).

Onwards to the West Country…

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Kingstonian Preview

Well I’m glad we are playing the K’s at this particular moment in time, as it allows me to blow off some steam over their treatment by the FA this summer. For those of you who don’t know what happened, well here is probably the best place to start and finish catching up. Whatever your feelings are as to what Boreham Woods punishment should have been, I really think the FA have shown K’s a huge lack of respect by waiting so long to reveal their verdict…

I mean, most K’s fans probably knew  in their hearts that it was going to get brushed under the carpet, but having to wait the entire summer for a response? I mean, did they leave it in an inbox somewhere then get the work experience kid to deal with it when they realised someone was going to want an answer at some point?

Of course, I grew up around Kingston and lived their most of my life. A pre-season audit of my old football programmes revealed I attended over 150 K’s games in my youth so will always have a massive amount of sympathy for them… although the number of K’s games I have attended post-2002 didn’t take much counting to be honest. I’m sure other Dons fans who weren’t fortunate enough to travel to away games with friends/family on a regular basis as a youth will have adopted their local non-league sides for Saturday recreation when the team were playing at the other side of the country. And I’m sure they will view this game as I would a meaningless kickaround with Tooting, for example…

Mind you, that doesn’t mean this fixture fills me with excitement… it just means I’m bothering to turn up tomorrow. I’m sure there isn’t a supporter of either side who are really going to be there for the standard of opposition alone… K’s are really just brightly coloured fodder for our ever improving Dons, and I would imagine most K’s fans would have seen our result against Woking on Saturday and thought they could do a job of improving on that…

Anyway, tomorrow night is ‘Pay for Christian Jolley Night’, in other words the game has been arranged to allow the Dons to pay for Jolleys transfer fee. Apparently if there is a surplus in receipts, K’s will get a share, which makes one wonder exactly how they feel about effectively helping another club pay for one of their young players. At this point I would post a link to the relevant post on their forum showing exactly what they think of it… or I would if that wasn’t just lazy blogging… oh, and they haven’t actually mentioned it over there (I did say excitement levels were at an all time low…).

Jolley has been one of the bonuses of pre-season so far, a summer that has turned doubting supporters into believers once more… which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Injuries are mounting up. Nwokeji, Blackman and Luke Moore are all at various stages of recovery at the moment, along with Steven Gregory who is due for a scan shortly… and we all know what sort of unanticipated damage those things can dredge up. And Southport is just around the corner now, literally, only two weeks on Saturday… which reminds me I should really have sorted my travel plans by now (uh-oh… looks like the coach for me…).


Weekend Round-Up

The Dons continued their impressive high scoring pre-season form, demolishing Woking 4-0 at Kingfield yesterday afternoon. All four goals were scored by Danny Kedwell, as the Dons lifted their first piece of silverware of the season in the form of the Phil Ledger Memorial Cup – although how many times has the phrase ‘first silverware of the season…’ in relation to a pre-season tin pot been used with the full knowledge it might just be our only piece of silverware this season…

The reserves travelled to Farnborough on Friday night and were on the end of a 0-3 defeat, unsurprising really considering Jack Turner was the only member of the squad with first team experience.

The First team face a hectic week with three games in five days. First, the Kingsmeadow derby against Kingstonian on Tuesday (I know how many of you are looking forward to that one…), before the mini-tour of the West Country taking in games against Tiverton Town on the Friday night, followed by a trip to League One Exeter City on the Saturday afternoon.

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Corinthian-Casuals 2 AFC Wimbledon 6

Well it didn’t rain, but I did get my legs eaten away by hordes of blood sucking insects. That’s the last time I wear shorts to an evening game, that’s for sure. My fault for having sweet blood I suppose, but makes me wonder why the players aren’t similarly affected. Maybe they are… maybe they just don’t moan about it as much as I do.

It was one of those really sweating evenings as well, by the time I made my way into the bar at King Georges it smelled like a rabbit hutch. Meaning a lot of sweaty Wombles had already passed through, that or they actually keep rabbits in there on non-matchdays. Terry made a note of praising the pitch before the game, which admittedly looked like a bowling green… albeit a bowling green that had a number of thick, deep trenches running down one side of it. I don’t want to exaggerate, but they must have been about four inches wide and as much deep – enough for someone to lose a foot in!

Which probably affected Terry’s starting lineup, starting Andre Blackman and keeping him out of the ruts. Not that this stopped Blackman getting injured… a late challenge from a Casuals man did for him on the half hour mark. As if this wasn’t frustrating enough, the ref refused to allow him to be treated on the field, and ended up ordering him off the pitch, from which he was destined not to return… At one stage I thought the referee might have sent him off, but with no Dons sub available until half time, they had to play out the remaining quarter-hour with ten men anyway…

As an aside, the referee was one of those little Hitler types, typical small man syndrome, whose efforts to ruin the game frustrated players and supporters alike. I’m all for the Respect campaign and that, but here’s hoping he enrages the wrong person to such an extent he gets his comeuppance later in the season…

Anyway, back to Blackman. He shuffled off the pitch, mumbling to himself, barely managing to acknowledge the presence of the Casuals substitutes in the corner asking about his wellbeing, before looking anywhere but at the Dons fans behind the goal applauding him on his way through… and fortunately for him Casuals have reduced the size of their pitch, meaning he didn’t have to get too close to the unwashed masses (who also happen to own the club he now plays for…) on his way past…

I also heard, albeit second-hand, about a Dons journo’s attempts to interview him after the game… and his monosyllabic responses. He certainly knows how to win popularity contests, that boy… It seems no matter how hard we search for something of interest in Blackman’s character, the more he comes across as a spoilt ex-Premier League starlet who thinks he’s too big for the Dons. I mean even the rumour that he squared up to DK probably isn’t true… and looking back it always seemed unlikely.

Having said all this, Andre Blackman can be the biggest knobhead on the planet for all I care. As long as he turns it on a Saturday afternoon (and occasional Tuesday evening) for the club I support… well I can overlook a certain amount of arrogance.

Plus there was another player in a Dons shirt whose name was on the tips of Wimbledon supporters tongues, and that man was… trialist Delano Sam-Yorke. Of course, most Dons fans had to double-check the team sheet or rely on Chinese whispers to work out who he was (leading to a couple of not entirely incorrect calls to ‘Go on, Sam’…). Sam-Yorke was to trouble the scorers later in the half, but his first moment of impact came after a turn of pace saw him clear of a slightly dozy Casuals defence before being upended by the keeper. Fellow trialist Reece Jones, a skinny, eager midfielder, was first to the ball and thus stroked home the resulting penalty.

The Dons second resulted from fantastic footwork from Steven Gregory, the ball came to him quicker than expected but he still passed the ball home, almost in slow motion but with perfect placement enough to beat the Casuals custodian. The second followed another sloppy moment at the back by Casuals, as Christian Jolley picked up the ball on the right side of the hosts area before cooly picking out Sam-Yorke to slot home.

Sam-Yorke’s second, which in turn led to Casuals response, was a bit strange. After a drop ball that was supposed to return possession to the hosts, the Dons trialist nipped in a little too soon for everyone’s liking, side-stepped an opponent and expertly found the bottom right corner with a curling effort. The fact that twenty-one blokes were shouting ‘No!’ at him didn’t seem to affect his concentration… not that I blame the kid either. Put yourself in his shoes – you have sixty minutes to make an impression, you’ve just scored… it would be a case of put the ball in the net and ask questions later, wouldn’t it?

The Dons allowed their hosts to walk one in, or rather slow jog it in… although to be honest they could have let them have three and it wouldn’t have made any more of a game of it at that stage. The second half… a bit of a let down after the all action performance of the first. Perhaps it was down to Casuals electing not to turn the floodlights on until it was more or less dark (and what did that save them? A couple of quid at most…). Whatever, it spurred them into action and Jack Turner was forced to make a couple of smart saves before his removal on the hour mark… at which point the gentlemen next to me leaned over and remarked what a great keeper he’s going to be when he’s 19, reminding me once again just what a jewel we could have in him. Blackman the first ex-Don of the AFC era in the Premier League? If he doesn’t make it, Jack will…

Lets face it, the last half hour must have seemed like a kick around for the rest of the squad having been put through a training session on the training pitch next door. Jon Main certainly enjoyed himself; receiving the ball with his back to goal, spinning and firing past the despairing keeper in one smooth motion – all this literally seconds after his introduction.

Casuals had a bit of pressure after that, pulling one back and forcing Sebb Brown (who looks like he spent the summer in the gym) to make a couple of saves. Repeated leg scratching and the knowledge that at that time of night the London-bound trains only leave every hour meant I made my excuses and left just as Jon Main capitalised on a defensive error to grab number six. Apparently. I was behind the stand at the time, so will never know. Perhaps we didn’t score a sixth, the fake cheer and celebration were all for my benefit, and right now several hundred people are laughing at me behind my back…

To summarise – a decent run out, especially from those eager to please to win first team places/contracts… Sam-Yorke looks like the sort of player I would like to see more of, and I’m glad we are looking at trialists still… I certainly hope there will be a degree of flexibility in terms of squad numbers. Eighteen is a small squad regardless of the number of players who can master multiple positions, and is the only aspect of this summers squad building that is worrying me. If Terry can shuffle the budget, and we can bring in an extra player in the three main areas of the pitch, then I for one will feel a lot more confident going into the season…

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Tuesday Evening In Tolworth (A Corinthian-Casuals Preview)

You just know its going to rain.

Our latest pre-season opponents quite helpfully knackered themselves out by contesting a four team tournament over the weekend (why don’t we ever get invited to this type of thing? And IOM doesn’t count as it was three team…). Which means we could see a few goals down at King Georges Field if the Dons remember to pack their scoring boots… although as a responsible, thoughtful blogger I have to point out that Terry is unlikely to learn anything new about his squad from this type of fixture… but you always have to have at least one seven goal spree or the pre-season fixture list just doesn’t look right…

Actually, my hunch is this will be a low scoring bore-athon, the sort of pre-season game that makes you question your very existence, but I’m not sure CC would welcome such negative publicity in the build up to their biggest PSF of the summer. The Dons enter the game off the back of a decent performance against Millwall and having newly signed Sammy Moore in the squad meaning not only will those who own a replica shirt with Luke Moore’s name on the back will have to add an ‘L’ for next season, but the squad is now all but complete except for that centre-half shaped hole that needs filling.

Whether that will be the end of the squad building remains to be seen; after all, eighteen is quite skinny for a squad with intentions of doing well next term, especially when injuries and inconsistency hit. Terry wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t kick down Eriks door when news of the extra £35k from the Premier League came through… and then kick him in the nuts if he refuses to add it to the playing budget (after all, everyone else will…). Squad building should never be complete in my mind, and while better players become available as the season nears (or more accurately, their wage expectations fall into our budgetary reach…) we should be flexible enough to accommodate them if the manager so wishes.

A giveaway as to whether we will sign anyone else will be how many trialists appear tomorrow that aren’t centre halves… Friday night saw us field Rene Steer at left back, although no-one – including the manager – seemed to be all that sure why. Terry obviously saw a decent player with a great pedigree become available and couldn’t resist the chance to take a closer look, even if he was effectively window shopping. This didn’t stop the conspiracy theorists put two and two together (the other ‘two’ being the shiner sported by Andre Blackman), and come up with something unlikely…

I don’t normally make a point of commenting on gossip (well, unless it was gossip that I actually started…), but when I heard the news about Blackman’s spat in training, or rather the supposed details of it, I was really encouraged. Training ground bust ups happen all the time, especially at full-time clubs… Dons teams of years gone by used to scrap it out a Richardson Evans from Monday to Friday, then take apart the opposition on the weekend. When I heard this one, well if Blackman had gone up to Luke Moore and started something, I would have ben disappointed. But what he actually did was face up to the biggest, meanest player in the squad…

…If indeed any of it actually happened. Blackman featured a black eye, but it could have been a collision, or I have heard he has moved back in with his mum and if she is a ‘You’re never too old for a clip round the ear…’ variety… well you just don’t know. What I do know, is from what I’ve seen of Andre Blackman on the pitch, he’s the sort of player I want at Wimbledon for as long as possible. And I just get the feeling that, if he’s still at the club by the end of September,will go on to be a real player before earning (yes, earning) a move back to a Premier League club for a transfer fee that can buy us a new stadium three times over… Or maybe not.

Back to tomorrow nights game, Terry has announced he will follow recent friendly protocol by giving his players 60/30 minutes, although the recent cull of first team trialists, along with Mark Nwokeji and Lee Minshull both out injured, suggests at least one or two might be in for their first full game of the summer.

I might even make notes at this one, so keep ’em peeled on Wednesday/Thursday for that effort…

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Cobham Res. 0 AFC Wimbledon Res. 3

The young Dons second string beat Cobham at Leg O’ Mutton Field… or rather, the training pitch next to it. Marcus Gayle can’t have been happy about the standard of the surface his side were forced to play on however, effectively a park pitch, it featured a topography that would have thrilled map makers, but wasn’t much use for playing football on.

Still, the Dons tried against a resolute Cobham side who struck the woodwork on several occasions. After a dull first half, the Dons quality showed in the second half, winning the game thanks to a Matt Harmsworth hat trick. Which was fortunate for me, as the Dons featured a number of players unknown to me (well, not just me!), and young Matt was one of the few I recognised…

The reserves only other friendly lined up is not until the 10th August at Godalming, however keep your eyes open as more are bound to be announced in due course.

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AFC Wimbledon 0 Millwall 1

So I couldn’t make the game last night. A minor family emergency… but these things happen and all is well with the world once again this morning. If only the game had been played today! I mean, who plays on a Friday night? This is football, not Rugby League!

So I missed our 0-1 defeat to a dodgy/stonewall penalty (depending on where you were standing it seems…), in a game which, from what I could catch on WDON, sounded like it could best be described as ‘a good workout’. My next first team action will be on Tuesday at Corinthian-Casuals, but this morning I’m planning on cycling over to Cobham to catch up with the reserves. More on that later, if I can identify any of the players…


Maidenhead 0 AFC Wimbledon 3

The Dons defeated Maidenhead last night to make it two wins out of two in pre-season. Javon Molloy had a goal disallowed in the first half before the Dons took control in the second period after a number of substitutions on the hour mark. Goals from Luke Moore, Jon Main and Sam Hatton eased Wimbledon to victory, with Danny Kedwell missing the target from the penalty spot.

Beyond that I wasn’t actually there, so no match report. Normal service will resume with a Millwall match preview on Thursday/Friday…


AFC Wimbledon 2 Charlton Athletic 0 – A (Friendly) Match Report

Man, that was hot. I really wasn’t built for weather like that, and judging by the news that the club have already sold out initial stock of the new shirt in XXXL sizes, I can’t have been the only fatty suffering in those conditions. Fortunately, our all new professional Dons are a super fit  group of young men, and put on a fantastic show against… well I don’t want to use the description ‘League One opponents’, as Charlton supplemented their bare bones squad with a number of trialists and young players, and you would hope for their sake that the eleven they finally settle on to start their season show a lot more quality than those on display here, albeit in a glorified training game.

Still, you can only beat whats put in front of you, and the Dons own group of youngsters and trialists put in the sort of performance you just don’t expect to see at this early stage of pre-season, full of energy and understanding that belied the fact they had only been together for a couple of weeks. In fact, the scoreline could have been even more embarrassing for the visitors had the Dons put away a few more of their chances, especially in the first half.

After a slow start the Dons started to show intent, mainly through the front three of new skipper Danny Kedwell flanked by Luke Moore on the right and Main on the left. The new formation asks more questions of players like Jon Main, and it was a (pleasant) surprise to see him back helping out Michael Noone, the first half left back, on a number of occasions. Yet Main was also the Dons prime threat, having a couple of chances breaking down the left channel, the best of which appeared to be heading in despite Charlton keeper Elliot until a desperate goalline clearance from an unidentified Charlton player (I was at the other end of the field – as per usual!) hacked the ball off the line.

The first half was the slower of the two, and Charlton should really have lead going into the interval (although this would have been harsh on the Dons first half XI). Former Reading forward Gunnar Thorvaldsson nodded past Jack Turner, only for his shot to hit Brett Johnson covering on the line with the entire goal to aim at from six yard out.

The Dons really picked up the pace in the second half, helped by the introduction of Andre Blackman and Christian Jolley down the left. Blackman looked very much like the most naturally talented footballer on the field, which isn’t a surprise as if it hadn’t been for his lack of discipline he would still be at Bristol City. Hell, he would probably still be at one of the Premier League clubs that kicked him out instead of preparing for a season in the BSP with the Dons. Jolley, on the other hand, is all about pace and enthusiasm. He may spend a little time on the bench next season, and when he does get on he might well be the poster boy for the phrase ‘the Inconsistency of Youth’, but in the long run he has the building blocks to turn into a real gem for us.

Yet it wasn’t Blackman or Jolley that immediately caught my eye, it was big Lee Minshull in midfield. You sensed most Dons fans are wishing him to do well, he really is the sort of imposing midfielder we so desperately needed last year and I found myself wishing for it to work out for him over the next year.  After an unfortunate injury to Mark Nwokeji (which fortunately doesn’t seem to be as bad as first feared while being carted off on a stretcher) Minsull completed the game up front.

Before this, the Dons had taken the lead. A set piece fell to former Barnet captain Ismail Yakubu in the box, who switched sides with some clever footwork only to telegraph his shot a little, allowing Elliot to make a save. Fortunately for the Dons, trialist Javonne Morroy was on hand to tap home and give the home side a richly deserved lead. And it was Minshull who doubled the tally, after some great work on the left by Jolley and Blackman. Jolley set Blackman free, and the full-back blistering pace took him away from his faultering marker. Cutting in from the left it seemed likely Blackman would finish himself, but instead he intelligently squared for Minshull to crash home at the far post and put the game beyond the visitors.

All in, a convincing victory, and a morale booster at this early stage. Next weeks visit of Millwall will be a tougher test, as will the arrival of the Arsenal kids a week before the season starts  But you get the impression we will learn more about our rebuilt squad in games such as Maidenhead or Woking (ironically mentioned here as I won’t be able to attend either…), and there is a lot of hard work before Southport. Perhaps all yesterday did was settle the nerves of those who had seen a lot of names they han’t heard before this sumer come in, when other clubs in our division are spending thousands on proven talent. The amount of quality floating round as free agents at the moment suggests this might just be the right time to put together a team on a buget, the quality of some of our triallists yesterday showed that – especially Fraser Franks at centre half.

To sum up – the Dons are back!

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