Misery (AFC Wimbledon 0 Darlington 2)

It’s not quite Halloween yet, but its close enough to expect a variety of puns from the mainstream Dons press after this performance, along the lines of it being a ‘Horror Performance’ where Darlington put ‘The Frighteners’ up the Dons before ‘Dumping Their Badly Mutilated Corpse On The Bank Of The Hogsmill’… The Dons weren’t beaten up in that manner by the visitors really, and were largely the creators of their own downfall. Oh, along with the pumpkin-headed clown in black, of course.

Such a clumsy introduction but not a million miles from the truth. There were rumours the ref was spotted in the car park before the game colouring in the white sections of his Darlington shirt with black marker pen before he could pass as a genuine official. Last week, Darlington were involved in a game where three members of the opposition were given their marching orders, to the point the local PA guy felt the need to berate him mid-action for ruining the game as a spectacle. If only we had such an enlightened announcer down at Kingsmeadow!

It’s certainly enough to get the conspiracy theorists among us wondering whether Darlington are intercepting the real match officials pre-game in order to plant their own ringer. Not a bad idea, if you ask me – we should create a working group post-haste in order to investigate the possibility of employing such a dastardly scheme ourselves (although the last time one of ‘us’ took over, albeit the line at Eastleigh a couple of years ago, it didn’t do us much good…).

Only joking of course, and apologies to Darlington for even suggesting there may have been some element of corruption behind their victory – but we have to find humour in defeat where ever we can. In fact the referee deserves credit for not allowing those dark glasses and stick to impede his movement around the pitch. Plus it must have been hard growing up without a father. And I hear he is highly regarded down at his local chapter of the Man/Boy Love Association. Et cetera, ad nauseam…

Moving on (briefly, I’ll undoubtedly refer back to the penis-lookalike in black later in the report), the ball isn’t really running for the Dons at the moment, is it? First Gateshead, where we were fortunate to rely on a set piece to break down awkward opponents. Then Basingstoke where a bunch of BSS part-timers almost took us to a replay before fitness, and another set piece, won us through. Todays game reminded me very much of the Forest Green game, unfortunately on this occasion there was no moment of magic to grab us a point…

We have to face the fact that, right now, we are at the base of a trough performance-wise. Plotting an imaginary graph in my head, I predict we will see at least a couple more mini-slumps before the season is out. Although the Inconsistencies Of Youth (which will probably turn out to be the title of our end-of-season DVD…) means this can’t be relied upon as an accurate indicator of future performance – we could quite easily demolish Ebbsfleet next week going unbeaten until Christmas (still some way off despite what the commercials on tv might have you believe…). More worrying is we are just as likely to be equally as crap as we were today until the end of the campaign.

We started well enough today, without creating any clear-cut chances. Unfortunately the visitors caught us with a goal after fifteen minutes, Chris Senior being gifted enough space to squirm the ball under Sebb Brown whilst being given the freedom of the penalty area by his obliging hosts. You have to bear in mind I was in the KRE and at pitch level, so when I say there was a suspicion of offside about the goal I’m merely voicing the opinion of others. I have no reason to doubt them, they were closer to the action than I was, and I await AFCWTV for some conclusive proof… awww, who am I kidding? I went through ninety minutes of frustration watching at the ground, I’m not going to waste another five minutes of my life browsing through the highlights.

If Senior was offside, it might explain why we was given so much room. He’s certainly what my dear departed gran would have referred to as ‘a tricky little cunt’, not someone who will cause you problems physically, possessing a frame that makes the likes of Ivor Heller realise he could have been a contender. But he knows where the goal is, that’s for damn certain, and we left him alone at our peril. If he wasn’t, fair enough, we were wronged, but those with a long memory will remember I defended the decision not to send Sebb Brown off for bringing Senior down during last years FA Trophy replay at home to Altrincham by suggesting Senior was ‘at least two yards offside’… then having to backtrack two days later upon being presented video evidence to the contrary. So I’m not touching this one…

Darlington were presented with a free kick shortly after, within shooting range and in an area that would have been regarded as dangerous… Had the visitors not completely screwed up what should have been a simple lay-off, allowing Danny Kedwell ample time to break from the wall and rob his dozy opponent. Yet somehow the referee saw this as a foul. If so he was the only person in the ground who did. At this stage, with angry Dons players bearing down on him and the crowd up in arms, he might have realised he had made a teeny tiny error. If he did, he obviously decided to just go along with it, and decided to stamp his authority by booking Kedwell. To paraphrase the gentleman a few yards down from me, he truly was a copulating visually impaired lady part…

As the half wore on, the Dons looked more like equalizing, without ever really testing the opposition. This was mainly down to first Sammy Moore, then Steven Gregory failing to take decent chances when presented them. It seems as though the Dons squad are putting on a production of The Nutcracker for the Christmas party, both Moore and Gregory are competing for the role of Sugar Plum Fairy, and each decided to encorporate elements of their audition while attempting to finish when well placed. Sadly. football and festive two-act ballet does not mix, a lesson both of them have now learned the hard way…

Sadly the Dons couldn’t immediately replicate the pressure they built at the end of the previous half as the second kicked off. Darlington actually looked pretty comfortable at this point, enough to bring on the man who has made a career at this level out of doing little more than backing in and getting the ball caught under his feet – Jefferson Louis. Immediately after the referee gave his next joke call of the afternoon, gifting the visitors a penalty for holding by Yakubu. No Darlington player thought to appeal, except one who started hurling abuse towards the referee, until he realised it wasn’t a Dons free kick, it was a penalty, and promptly decided to keep his mough shut.

Now Louis has a bit of previous with the Dons, as we remember him from last season where it turned out he wasn’t quite good enough to make the grade at a pre-moneyed Crawley. Presumably he was up all night working on his celebrations should he score, judging by the way he grabbed the ball before the penalty. Perhaps he thought a little too much though, as his sidefooted effort was a little too casual and Sebb Brown got down easily to block. Unfortunately it squirmed away from Brown, and with the Dons players flat footed Marc Bridge-Wilkinson slammed the rebound into the roof of the net.

The Dons were now stuck deep in a hole they didn’t look capable of digging themselves out of. They huffed and puffed throughout the remainder of the half, but it was the visitors who came closest to scoring late in the game when Brown pushed a header onto the bar. The home sides best chance of getting back into it revolved around a couple of ‘what might have been’ efforts – Jolley smashing into the side netting with team mates well positioned, and Sam Hatton tripped in the area and punished by – guess who – the referee, his crime being he tried to stay on his feet. How stupid of us! We failed to realise stonewall penalties are only given when players hurl themselves onto the deck these days.

Much as in the first half, Wimbledon looked more likely to score the longer the half went on, which was ironic in that the later they would have scored, the more meaningless it would have been. They failed to even pull one back in the end, which just made the news that Crawley had won 4-1 at Mansfield even more crushing. Days like today makes you wonder how we can possible challenge for the title come April…

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