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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