Monthly Archives: November 2010

Snow.

Is anybody else thinking the last thing we really need right now, as players and supporters lick their wounds after a demoralising defeat, is the visit of bona fide title challengers Luton? Who themselves had a bit of a result at the weekend, holding Charlton away from home. Confidence must be high in their camp, I would imagine Luton fans right now would find it difficult to believe they won’t go on and win the title, regardless of what ourselves or Crawley get up to. Add to this a minor defensive problem, and things aren’t looking too good for the Dons.

There is a flip side to the coin, that now might be the best time to face Luton, our boys could rebound and take an unlikely victory… it’s a bit unlikely, but it seems to be the thought process Terry Brown is taking. Quite right too, although the biggest impact that doubt might have on the game is whether it actually goes ahead. I have to say as I’m sitting here writing this, with the knowledge the forecasted temperature isn’t going to rise above freezing before kick off swirling around my head, I really can’t see myself at Kingsmeadow tomorrow night. Or any of us for that matter. Especially as I’ve not long got in from outside.

Should there be some kind of miracle, such as the Cambridge Estate going up in flames again and the resulting heat wafting across the pitch and raising the temperature just enough to keep the pitch thawed, then you don’t have to necessarily fall into the pessimists camp to realise taking anything from the game is going to be a big ask. Brown is playing cagey with his pre-match comments, to the point you wonder (or hope…) that he feels confident as he has a plan up his sleeve…

TAD’s predicted Dons line up;

Brown; Hatton, Bush, Franks, Yakubu; Yussuff, Moore S, Wellard; Moore L, Kedwell, Jackson

A rare prediction – The Dons will take the game 2-0 (when it eventually gets played some time in March…)

ALMOST IMMEDIATE UPDATE – Just as I posted this, the news came through that a 7PM pitch inspection resulted in the game being postponed. There you go, Terrys plan worked a treat…

Tagged ,

Play Our Game, Not Theirs…

Terry Brown was a frustrated man at around 1.25PM on Saturday afternoon. Rather than the patient football he had seen all season, his Dons back line were simply launching the ball into the midst of a Stevenage midfield that seemed to have on average a clear six inches height advantage over the home side. Not surprisingly, the ball was coming back almost as fast as it was propelled forward, and only some solid defending was keeping the League Two side at bay. ‘Have some courage!’ and ‘Play our game not theirs!’ seemed to be Browns two favourite phrases, but even when Sebb Brown chose to play it short to a defender he invariably thought twice beforehand, giving that extra couple of seconds for a Stevenage man to close down and ensure the ball would be pumped forward, and inevitably lead to a Stevenage move rather than a Dons one.

The problem was, the Dons players had frozen under the spotlight. The knowledge they were being watched by a worldwide TV audience with a place in the Third Round of the FA Cup their prize, seemed to have collectively stiffened them. To a man they had lost faith in their own ability, and rather than commit to their game plan seemed desperate to be rid of the football as soon as it came into their possession. And by this stage they were already a goal down. A panicky Steven Gregory challenge on the edge of the area gifted Stevenage a free kick – the decision raising the ire of the Dons fans as Gregory seemed to get plenty of the ball, but watching the replay later even the most blinded Dons fan would have to admit you’ve seen them given. The visitors new loan signing from Watford, Josh Walker, struck the ball low past the wall, it bounced off the inside of the left post and into the opposite corner past a static Brown.

At around this time a bell should have been ringing in Dons fans heads… we’ve been here before. Thurrock, Exeter City, Wycombe, Millwall… whenever we edge past our previous best in this competition, we come across a team that are a step to far. Progress is slow and seems related to our League status, tough to take when you see ‘inferior’ sides such as FCUM and Dover having a real go at it. Without the pressure of expectation on their backs our young side have managed to exceed all expectations by finding themselves top of the Conference after twenty games, a play off place has gone from being a possibility to an expectation, but Stevenage just seemed to be too much of an ask.

Not that they completely caved in. They gave it a real go in the second half, and finally had Stevenage on the back foot. On another day, given a bit of luck, the equalizer would have come. Perhaps Kedwells cross would have been six inches in front of Luke Moore rather than six inches behind. Perhaps the skippers rampaging run would have been turned in at the near post by Yussuff rather than blocked. It gave the crowd the chance to crank the noise up a notch, the support was fantastic as you would expect, yet despite this the away supporters could be heard above the home fans – not verbally of course, but their collection of drums that suggested an impromptu performance of ‘Stomp’ was taking place in the visitors section. Losing to Millwall last season was in a way acceptable, we would expect to play Millwall on a regular basis in future, but losing to Stevenage requires a little bit of patience and forward thinking – looking to the past can help in this respect, as well as the aforementioned Thurrock debacle, we also managed to lose an FA Cup tie 0-3 at home to Walton & Hersham… and what became of them???

Just when it seemed we were set for a pulsating last ten minutes, with the Dons pushing hard for a leveller, they were caught by a sucker punch ten minutes from time that effectively ended the game. Hatton and Yakubu probably could have done better to snuff the chance out, as Yemi Udubade hit a volley that bobbled into the corner. As if that wasn’t game over anyway, the referee then pulled out a second yellow for Ed Harris following an earlier incident that on first viewing looked more of a ‘collision’, but TV cameras later revealed to be more of a ‘desperate lunge’. Unfortunate for Harris, and unfortunate for the Dons who now head into Tuesdays game with Luton without Harris and the injured Johnson (how we could have done with him…), with only Franks and Ismail Yakubu available, with the manager only last week questioning Yakubu’s fitness regarding playing two games in four days… Is anybody else hoping the weather worsens ahead of Tuesday? We surely can’t afford to give a promotion rival such a big advantage…

So what positives can be taken from this experience? Well, we were a lot better in the second half, one of the reasons for this was the change to a simple 4-4-2. This brought Kedwell into the game, and was a big factor in almost getting back on terms at the start of the second half. This doesn’t mean of course, that we should immediately drop the 4-3-3 that served us so well for the opening couple of months. I just love the fluidity of the system, the way it brings the best of Christian Jolley and Ryan Jackson, it is a genuine 4-3-3 rather than the 4-5-1 it appears to be when we are penned back. But sometimes its obvious that it isn’t working, and it doesn’t seem fair to ask the players to persist with it, especially when the knee jerk reaction is to bring on someone like Jon Main and asking him to run the flanks. Here’s hoping the manager has the confidence to make the switch more frequently in future.

Beyond that, the only positive we can take is the experience our young squad will hopefully take from this. While we need to be worried in the short-term that we froze, that we found ourselves brushed off the ball quite easily, etc, the squad can only improve. We know that if promotion doesn’t come this season it will come next, the squad will gain a years extra experience and we will come good eventually. Patience is a good virtue to have in football, we obviously have the right manager, we know we have the bulk of a team capable of winning promotion to and surviving in League Two, so lets just enjoy the ride over the next couple of years. While visiting a Premier League or Championship ground would have been a fantastic experience for all of us, it’s not to be this year, and never before has the cliché of being able to concentrate on the league been more apt. We have a big six months or so ahead of us…

Tagged ,

12.50

Its Wednesday night here at TADs digs, so it must be time for Saturdays match preview. And a tingle of excitement has just made its way up my back as our beloved AFC Wimbledon gain mention midway during the Rangers-Man U tie on ITV.Its just a promo though, the excitement passes… in fact I’ve been trying my very hardest not to get over excited about this game, for obvious reasons. A victory could see us play one of the sides on my television screen in the next round should the draw be kind – the other team will unfortunately have to wait for next seasons Europa League…

Yet I’m not seeing us at Old Trafford, Anfield, The Emirates – those stadiums most often mentioned by Dons fans when talk of potential third round opponents… of course Glandford Park, Brisbane Road or Edgar Street are equally likely venues unfortunately. I’m seeing Thurrock, I’m seeing Torquay in the Trophy, I’m seeing Wycombe, occasions that were too much of an occasion for AFC Wimbledon.

Having said that, this is a different Dons side that effectively lay down for Stevenage last Easter, allowing them to stroll on to promotion. We have improved a great deal, certainly more than Stevenage would have in that time… but have we improved enough? The other problem we have is I don’t really think we look like the sort of side that can cause an upset. I’ve always thought giantkillers were a band of hardworking battlers, short on talent but big on heart. While our young side might be able to top the Conference after twenty games, I have my doubts as to their ability to knock out a higher ranked side in a one-off game. How many times in the WFC days did we turn over the big boys? Mind you, back then every game seemed like a cup tie…

The present side are currently struggling with injuries, including the previously mentioned defensive problem. Yakubu will be ok for Saturday, but sneaking up almost unnoticed on the blind side is an incredibly tough looking home game with Luton. We’ll put up a fight in that one, but it almost seems as though we may have to sacrifice an important league game for a chance of FA Cup progress. Beyond that I would suggest the starting lineup will revert to full strength despite the success (in the first half at least) of the Kedwell-free lineup. It seems of the fitness worries Jackson and Blackman will be alright for the squad at least, I think Blackman might be in line for the bench and Jackson could suffer too if Brown decides Luke Moore’s impressive recent performances warrant a starting place. Expect Jolley to continue on the right if that’s the case.

As for Stevenage, well their promotion has seen them wander into an upper mid-table position, as you would expect from a Conference winner in their first season, and they should go on to mount at least a play off challenge. Some bookies can’t separate the two sides, but in the real world you have to say they are quite clear favourites for this one. Stranger things have happened, but I’m not exactly counting on looking out for ball 48 on Sunday.

Don’t disguise my pessimism for any lack of interest in the game by the way… this is a huge match, the biggest the Dons have faced in the AFC era, bigger than Wycombe, bigger than Millwall, and will remain so until we face a Conference play-off game/title decider. Expect a huge crowd there too, especially now the all-ticket status has been removed. I sometimes get the impression making games all ticket has a negative effect when the expectation is to be at or around capacity, you get the feeling more than a few of us thought ‘I can’t be bothered to arrange tickets, I’ll just watch on the telly…’. More than a few of those will now make their way to the ground on Saturday morning. Theres no excuses now – bring your floating mates and let’s make it a real cup atmosphere (well, as much of an atmosphere as can be produced at Kingsmeadow…).

Tagged ,

Its Braintree In The Trophy…

That previously empty looking weekend in your diaries on 11th December can now be inked in with a home game against Braintree, currently sitting second in the BSS. The Dons have had a little difficulty overcoming sides from this division in FA competitions so far this season, and it will be interesting to see just how seriously Brown decides to take this competition. From a fans perspective though, and lets not be ashamed to be a little greedy here, it is the first step on what will be our only chance of reaching Wembley this season.

One positive about the timing of the game is currently we have a clear week after our game at York behind it and a clear week ahead to Wrexham, this could change if we require a replay following Saturdays game. There’s no doubt Brown will field the strongest side possible, but in a week that has seen key players rested after reaching the point of exhaustion the temptation will be there to give certain players a week off. If the game takes place a few days after a tough FA Cup replay, the decision to field a weakened side could be taken out of his hands.

I suppose how competitive we will be will depend on whether Brown manages to bolster his squad. With a few thousand swirling around in the coffers thanks to the TV money from the cup run, Brown mentioned keeping tabs on another target man to take the pressure off Danny Kedwell in Sundays programme notes, as well as the possibility of bringing in a defender on loan in his post match press conference. At the moment, with Johnson’s injury and Yakubu’s inability to play two games in a week, we are effectively down to two and a half centre halves for our two biggest games of the season, meaning the talented but young Harris and Franks will pair up for either the Stevenage or (more likely) Luton games.

As for Braintree themselves, they seem more than capable of pulling off an upset even if the Dons go full strength. Despite being something of a cliché that all you want in a cup draw is a side from a lower division at home, you would almost have preferred a home tie against the likes of Hayes or Bath than a side near the top of their division and firing on all cylinders.

Having said that, the draw could have been worse. We avoided Crawley, Luton… even the likes of Cambridge would have given us a decent game. This tie is winnable. Questions about the strength of side we should field can wait, the way players seem to be dropping like flies at the moment suggests if things get any worse in the next couple of weeks we may not have too much of a squad to select a side from…

Tagged ,

Phew.

That was a close call. This was a classic game of two halves, the Dons had the game won after one of the most impressive 45 minutes of football you’ll see from a Wimbledon side, hell, a side in this division. Yet it almost wasn’t enough. A goal early in the second half gave Kettering hope, it was game on at 3-2 with ten minutes left, and only the reactions of Sebb Brown kept us ahead at the end, where nerves threatened to throw away two points.

Sunday football is weird. I never really got used to it in the nineties, and on the rare occasions we have to play now it just messes with my weekly pattern. I like to keep to some type of schedule, and Sunday is reserved for the well-earned treat of doing fuck-all. And ironically public transport is twice as busy, as it takes twice as long for buses to turn up and South West Trains decide to half the length of their trains despite there being no significant reduction in the amount of folk out and about for the day.

The Dons were rewarded for switching the game with the lowest crowd of the season turning out, and the atmosphere was a bit lacking, too many people either full of Sunday lunch or empty and longing for their dinner. Even the promise of Stevenage tickets being on sale didn’t boost the attendance, not that the decision helped me in any way as I didn’t find out until I actually got to the ground, and hadn’t brought enough money with me. Which kind of serves me right for being too lazy to walk down the ground on Saturday when they were openly available.

Still, the Dons punished those unable to attend with the sort of first half display that makes you wonder whether we might just be playing our way out of recent indifferent form, just in time with some difficult looking fixtures on the horizon. Ricky Wellards low raking cross field ball found Luke Moore in plenty of space, after teeing up Thursday nights late pair Moore showed the composure to slot the ball under Kettering keeper Jack and into the bottom corner. Wellard had a superb game, especially in the first half where he looked the best player on the pitch. It sums up why we get so frustrated with Ricky sometimes, I’m sure the manager must too, because when he is on his game he’s one of the best midfielders in the division. 

The Dons grabbed a second when Kettering’s Nick Green simultaneously obstructed his team mates attempt at challenging Sammy Moore, while managing to knock the Dons midfielder literally flying into the air. In Danny Kedwells absence Luke Moore tucked away the spot kick, the Dons were looking comfortable now. In fact, the rested Kedwell wasn’t missed at all, Moore having a fine game on the left and Jolley – looking well rested after his three game ban – almost unplayable on the right. In fact, Wimbledon almost looked like scoring every time they went forward.

Well, not really. I mean we all know how many chances the Dons can create for themselves only to find the reward for their efforts wasted through poor finishing, so it was almost a pleasant surprise when the third came. Nwokeji found himself through on goal, his stabbed effort was blocked by Jack only for Jolley to nod into the empty net. Jolley should have got a second for himself and really finished the game before half time when his effort smacked off the bar, and the Dons were buzzing. After the other two members of the runaway top three posted big scores yesterday, you wondered how many the Dons would get as the teams departed at half time. Matching Luton’s five at least? Six? Seven???

Something changed though, and it happened before half time. Sam Hatton was removed after another excellent performance, and Ryan Jackson replaced him for what should have been a comfortable fifty minutes or so at right-back. The back four had looked pretty solid up to that point, repelling rare Kettering counter attacks with ease. Yakubu and Harris looked unbeatable, and while he gave the ball away cheaply on a couple of occasions, Bush looked capable defensively on the left.

Kettering created the goal they needed to build a comback on ten minutes into the second half. It was a very defendable goal, the sort of sloppy effort conceded by teams who are a little too overconfident of holding onto a big lead. Just a simple ball into the box from the left, nodded beyond Brown by Solkhon who had the space and time to make it look easy. A classic consolation goal, really, or so it should have been if the Dons had regained the initiative. They threatened to, but the old problem of overplaying in the final third reared its ugly head, Jolley and Yussuff being two in particular who found themselves hustled off the ball when they really should have got a shot away earlier.

At the back, Wimbledon seemed to have weathered the storm, but that all changed when Ryan Jackson had to hobble off injured. Fraser Franks came on to fill in at right back, but from that point on the Kettering winger could beat him for fun. The threat of Kettering’s pace caused Wimbledon to defend deeper and deeper, to the point Paul Furlongs half way line flicks to nobody were now taking place on the edge of the Dons box, causing more than a few heart attacks.

Kettering seem to have made an effort to be a little more pleasing on the eye following Marcus Law taking over, but the robust side of their game seems to have remained. By ‘robust’ I of course mean ‘thuggish’, they managed to pick up five yellow cards but it could have been so much worse for them, a couple of assaults on Sebb Brown while he lay on the floor with the ball in his hands went unpunished.

Going into the last ten minutes, the Dons looked absolutely shattered. The prospect of a week off must be appealing to them before Stevenage! It was almost no surprise that Kettering made a real game of it courtesy of Furlong scrambling home. Sebb Brown then had to be at his absolute best to claw out a fierce Furlong effort that seemed to be heading for the top corner. It’s at moments like that you realise how important Sebb Brown is to us. That save was every bit as important as a goal to us, and ultimately it won us two points. There was one last worrying moment, where Noubissie threw himself to the floor in the box in stoppage time. The referee blew, and for a split second you wondered whether he had fallen for it, but fortunately the yellow card was waved in the Kettering players direction, and the Dons had not just escaped, but returned to the top of the table once more.

You get the impression Crawley and Luton must be looking at our young, inexpensively assembled squad, wondering what the hell we are still doing above them in the table? I still feel the resources of those two sides will be enough to see them clear of us post-Christmas, until then we will do well to put as many points on the board as possible. Just being top once more is a fantastic achievement, and we can now look forward to our FA Cup tie with Stevenage, and perhaps show them how much we have improved since last April?

Tagged ,

Moore S 90+4, 120+1

Be honest, you felt a little guilty coming away from Stonebridge Road last night (or turning your TV over for the busier/lazier among us…). It wasn’t as if we robbed a five-year old on his birthday, more we claimed victory almost on a technicality. Ebbsfleet had the game won. If there was any fairness in the world of football it would be them and not us preparing to host Stevenage on national TV in little more than a weeks time.

Fortunately for the Dons, football is all about moments, and Sammy Moore came up with two of them last night in the most unlikely manner possible. While the Dons weren’t as bad as I will possibly go on to suggest, they seemed to have missed their best chance of getting back into the game, Ebbsfleet were confident and had spent three of the four minutes stoppage time holding the ball in the corner. This was a game waiting to end. Dons fans, while not exactly streaming through the gates, were edging in that direction in order to catch the early train home.

Then Luke Moore got hold of the ball, a perfectly measured cross and a delicate finish later, all of a sudden previously resigned Dons fans found themselves bouncing around the away end, facing up to an additional half hour of football that no-one could have seen coming just seconds earlier.

It had all started pretty well. Stonebridge Road is a proper football ground, it was a pleasure to walk down the hill towards the ground before kick off, floodlights shining through the darkness, huge queues at the turnstiles pointing the way. Inside, the ground felt full despite the relatively small crowd, an atmosphere helped by the low roof on the side terrace. Dons fans were allocated a small section of this stand, and the noise the minority made was louder than that the bulk on the open terrace made, all noise dissipating into the night on a classic open away terrace.

Pre match my quiet prediction was the Dons would grab an early goal to kill the nerves, and it will all be comfortable after that. I was half right, at least.  Ryan Jackson had the running of Derek Duncan all night (another of my predictions, albeit from the first game…), and floated a ball over to Yusseff. Toks header didn’t seem to be going anywhere but was enough to get Ebbsfleet keeper Edwards heading off towards his left post. Mark Nwokeji, making the most of a rare start, found himself in the right place at the right time to wrong foot the keeper and hand Wimbledon the initiative.

Not that they held it for long of course. Ebbsfleet proceeded to tear into the Dons, although the visitors suffered a huge amount of misfortune with both efforts that ended up in the back of the net. First, an Ebbsfleet player that thanks to Youtube turned out to be Tom Phipp burst into the box. Andre Blackman tracked him, before Phipp, well to be polite he just fell over. The referee seemed quite happy to buy this, and Ashley Carew, victim of a poor refereeing decision himself in the first game, rolled past a wrong footed Sebb Brown. With Christian Jolley still serving his ban and Carew yet to start his, it seems as though the only team to benefit from Carew’s red card will be Bromley – never a good outcome…

Carew was now naturally full of confidence, and just minutes later he was instrumental in Ebbsfleet taking the lead. As Fraser Franks prepared to clear another Ebbsfleet ball into the box he slipped, and the ball struck his arm.  For one horrible moment you thought the referee was going to give another cheap penalty, but there was no need as Carew struck a fierce one past Brown. Looking back at the goal it looks really good from the TV camera angle, like he curled it into the far corner, but in reality his low effort bounced up off Sam  Hattons attempted block and away from Browns reach.

It was mainly Ebbsfleet after that, although the game was blighted by few clear cut chances. Sebb Brown made an excellent low save to his left, I believe from that man Carew. At the other end the Dons completely failed to get back on the front foot, a Toks effort that flew too high was as close as they got. By half time it had all got a little too much for me, cock-eyed fan logic suggested I must have been standing on the unlucky side of the ground, so I took up position in the corresponding position on the opposite side of the goal. Which didn’t have the immediate impact I thought it would, but I’m prepared to accept the credit for my part in the performance.

Whenever you find yourself going out of the FA Cup you seemingly always find yourself looking back at one key moment, one chance that if put away would have changed the game. During the last five minutes or so of the game I chose to dwell on Danny Kedwells miss earlier in the half. It wasn’t an easy chance, although the goalkeeper was nowhere  he was at an angle and had to get some power on it to be sure of beating the man on the line… unfortunately getting too much on it sending it over the bar.

Kedwell himself wasn’t having the happiest of evenings. He seemed unable to go near an opposition player without the referee blowing for a foul, and later in the half found himself in the book after the referee had decided to blow for one non-foul too many. Finding himself pulled out of position, the majority of half chances fell to midfielders filling the gap, Sammy Moore and Wellard among those finding themselves in decent shooting opportunities but not hitting the target.

The chances had gone. The game was all but up, at least in my mind we were out of the competition. I was weighing up whether to go to Fleetwood when I noticed Luke Moore had picked up the ball in a bit of space, moved inside and floated a lovely ball in for Sammy Moore. The ball came to him at an awkward height but the finish was expertly guided into the bottom corner. On the terraces, for a moment no one dare move, until the net rippled sparking wild relieved celebrations.

Then, somehow, we were playing extra time. I’m sure most of us, players included, were wondering what we were still doing there. As the first period progressed, it was obvious things had changed. Wimbledon were now well on top against a tired, presumably mentally shot Ebbsfleet team, and created a couple of chances that should really have had the game won long before it was. The best fell to Luke Moore, doing everything right in blasting his effort at the near post, somehow kept out by Preston Edwards.

It looked like the Dons would pay the price, as Ebbsfleet found a second wind and came back hard. While I would quite happily have taken penalties half an hour earlier, as time ticked down I felt we had missed our chance somewhat. One final effort was required, a ball heaved into the box but easily cleared to Luke Moore on the edge of the box. I remember wanting him to get the ball under and shoot, but it just didn’t sit right for him, so he hoisted a high ball onto the penalty spot.

As a tired Ebbsfleet defence pushed out, Sammy Moore turned back in and no-one went back with him. As Ebbsfleet hands raised for a flag that was never going to come, Moore took the ball down on his chest and rolled it into the corner before the keeper had even thought of moving. Once again, disbelieving Dons fans bounce around the away end. The game kicks off and Ebbsfleet get the ball forward quickly, you wonder for a split second whether the win might be stolen from us as we had taken it so cruelly earlier in the night. But the final whistle brings the third great celebration of the night. All thoughts of Fleetwood are put to one side for another time, the Dons are in R2 for the first time in the AFC era.

Thursday Night Football

Huge sighs of relief all round at the news the winner won’t have to face Them in the next round. The fortunate thing about it was it was enough to seduce ITV into naming the game as its fixture of choice, meaning the winner of our replay not only gets to face a proper football club in the next round, they will also pick up a six figure sum once prize money and TV money is taken into account.

While we are on the subject of Them, I notice their old message board has been closed, replaced by a version which is readable without registration, thus subjecting the rest of the world (or anyone who bothers searching for it) to their inane chatter. And it doesn’t cast them in a good light. I thought I was ignorant (last night for example I turned down an invitation for a party celebrating the release of Aung San Suu Khi because I mistook it for a Twinings marketing event…), but they push the boundary that little bit further. Every town has its weirdos and knobheads, up in MK they seem to gather in one place…

But onto more pressing matters… two proper football clubs face off to decide who goes on to play another proper football club in Round Two of the FA Cup. And of course its on a Thursday, for some reason. I wouldn’t mind Thursday games if the positive (being closer to the weekend) wasn’t overwhelmingly outweighed by the negative (Kettering game switched to a Sunday…). What is strange is its only November and this isn’t the first time we have been asked to play on the weirdest night of the football week. We are of course both getting paid a load of money, and at least the TV company involved isn’t the same one that thinks its a good idea to switch our longest away trip of the season to a Friday night (and that could have been worse, it could have been a Monday…).

You wonder exactly how this is going to affect the Dons players. They had the chance to play in what they rightly or wrongly considered to be THE fixture, and now Stevenage have taken it away from them. My advice to them will be make them pay. But first, make sure you beat Ebbsfleet in the ultimate banana skin game. It will be easy to suggest Ebbsfleet have missed their chance, but the Dons patchy couple of road games since the initial fixture won’t have Dons fans travelling in complete confidence. Plus Ebbsfleet themselves have developed a nice little habit of winning football matches. Oh, and TB, despite being a cautious type, somehow mentioned the Third Round in his pre match O/S comments – the ultimate bad omen if ever one was needed.

It seems as though we won’t have to rely entirely on the youth at the back, thanks to the return of the not-exactly-veteran Brett Johnson. Christian Jolley serves the final game of the ridiculous ban for his laughable red card in the first game, and Lee Minshull appears to be injured again, which ever the observant one I managed to miss… At least the virus that swept the club at the weekend seems to have died off, with Jon Main returning.  

I’m not going to guess the side because for some reason I think TB might have something up his sleeve for this one. Maybe thats wishful thinking, but I’ll be interested to see what line-up, and more importantly formation, he chooses tomorrow night. Whatever he decides, one thing is important and that is our support. I hope not too many of you have been put off by the televised status/potential cold and rain… tomorrow your team may need you…

Tagged ,

Barrow Live

*** Nb – Unlike the corresponding BBC version of this page, updates with neither appear automatically, nor will the page refresh automatically every two minutes. You’ll have to press F5 yourself. Sorry… ***

16.58    Strangley after a poor result, I’m not as disappointed as I thought I would be. Probably thanks to the fact we are still top of the league, Crawley failed to make us pay being held 1-1 at Darlington. Luton won at Altricham as expected, closing the gap on the top two to vitrually nothing, but I can’t help but think we got away with it a little today. Yes, Crawley still have their game in hand, for what its worth at this stage of the season.

Anyway, its been an interesting experiment with the live blog this afternoon. Thanks for joining me, perhaps I’ll try it again some day, but I really need to start getting back to actually attending away games again…

16.53    FINAL WHISTLE – BARROW 2 AFC WIMBLEDON 0

16.51    We’re playing out four added minutes now. WDON is back…

16.48    WDON went down, It took me about a minute to notice…

16.45    Another unwanted stat. The Dons have so far failed to pick up a point whenever The Anonymous Don has attempted a live blog…

16.43    It sounds very much like events are winding down at Barrow, the Dons are heading for defeat, and I’m starting to think of my closing statements.

16.40    I daren’t mention it for fear of tempting fate, but there has been no change to the scoreline up at Darlington. The Dons still top the league as it stands…

16.36    A miserable afternoon for the Dons seems to have been capped off by a second Barrow goal against the run of play. Like this weekend last year the Dons are 0-2 down at Barrow, surely no way back this time…

16.34    Barrow clear one off the line. Always annoying when that happens when you listen via WDON, as you can tell it didn’t go in by Mikey T’s voice. Right now, despite the scoreline, I’m regretting not making arrangements to be there myself. Mind you it is raining. I’ll take any crumb of comfort I can get right now. Come on Dons.

16.29    Second substitution for the Dons, Wellard makes way for Minshull

16.25    First Dons substitution, Jackson makes way for Luke Moore. I thought Moore was impressive against Ebbsfleet last week, but is he the answer to our problems at rainy Barrow? Then next twenty minutes or so will tell us…   

16.21    Almost as if to prove my point, They’ve scored again. Happy Birthday Anonymous Don. Come on you Dons! I don’t want to be staring forlornly into my pint all evening…

16.20    As if things aren’t bad enough, They’ve scored at Brentford.

16.17     I always find this period, the opening twenty minutes of the second half, is the calm before the storm. There doesn’t appear to be many goals about anywhere at the moment, but most importantly for the Dons (who sound like they are playing a lot better) there is nothing doing at Barrow.

16.13    Luton take the lead. All of a sudden things aren’t looking too good for the Dons despite a more positive start to the second half. Still, plenty of time to go…

16.11    Momentary excitement here as Nwokeji hits the side netting with an effort. Incidentally I’m glad Nokkers is getting a chance to prove his worth rather than being shipped out on loan – Eastbourne were mentioned, but apparently none of our forwards will be leaving until after the cup run is over…

16.09    Just did a little original research to find out when the last time the Dons lost on or around my birthday was – we have to go back to an Isthmian League Cup reverse at Tooting in 2006…

16.07    Sebb Brown forced to make a save. If we go 2-0 down I’m giving up and going down the pub… 

16.04    SECOND HALF KICKS OFF – The Dons are kicking towards the away end, as Ricky Wellard forces a save from Halstead with a fierce effort.

15.59    Having all sorts of technical problems at this end. I presume thats why this sort of live blog, while commonly attempted, aren’t that popular… still, at least I’m having what passes as fun when your team is a goal down, I hope the half dozen of you checking in are too!

15.52   Just realised my BBC feed hadn’t updated itself for twenty minutes… Darlington-Crawley is now 1-1…

15.48    HALF TIME – As I head off for a well-earned break, the Dons failed to build on a promising opening period and eventually succumbed to a goal late in the half. Crawley are currently losing 0-1 to ten-man Darlington, whereas Luton have failed to break down Altrincham… yet.

15.45    Danny Kedwell picks up a yellow card after what sounded like a bit of a melee…

15.42    BARROW 1 AFC WIMBLEDON 0 –  Bollocks. Looks like I spoke too soon. No sooner had I finished writing the previous entry than a muffled roar momentarily drowned Mikey T. Barrow take the lead, as all eyes turn to Darlington and Altrincham…

15.40    As half time approaches, the Dons seem to be coming under more and more pressure. I’m prepared to adopt the standard football supporters away mantra and say I’ll happily take a point right now. As I write Ryan Jackson fires over on the break…

15.38    I don’t care whether I’m at the game or not, I’m not answering the phone to my sister when the footballs on!

15.33    Just spent a few minutes correcting spelling errors below before the sound cuts out again, and I spoke too soon… my connection drops for a quarter of a second,  iStadium kicks me out and someone nips in and takes my place!!!

15.29    The first away goal of the day comes at Hayes, where visiors Grimsby take the lead. That was at least ten minutes ago though, my observational skills are’t what they were… meanwhile Mark Goodfellowcomes close for Barrow, the Dons should be 0-1 down by the sound of it… 

15.26    News filering through that Crawley are losing… Now confirmed by the BBC! Which only means we’ll all get a little excited before they inevitably come back and win it in the last minute…

15.25    My worst nightmare – the feed goes down for a few second, I have a panic attack…

15.24    After listening to both streams for a good two minutes I can’t work out which one is ahead of the other…

15.21   BBC Radio Cumbria for anyone interested – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/bbc_radio_cumbria

15.17    Whenever Mikey T pauses for longer than two seconds I immediately start to panic, assuming the commentary has gone down. I wonder if there is a BBC alternative today??? Meanwhile, Sam Hatton has just picked up a rare booking…

15.15   Just been advised of an interesting stat… the Dons have not been involved in a game featuring more than ten goals when Steven Gregory has started… expect the net to start bulging shortly…

15.13    Fleetwood take the lead against Rushden and Forest Green notch at home to Mansfield…

15.09    Dons Bench – Turner, Moore L, Blackman, Minshull, Gregory – nice and attacking bench there. As I write Sebb Brown makes a save from Nick Chadwick… strange how I’m more nervous listening online as I would be if I were at the game…

15.05    The Villa- Man U game finished 2-2… really? No early goals yet anywhere in the BSP…

15.03   Sounds like a promising start… Sammy Moore hits the first Dons hot in anger…

15.01    BARROW LINEUP (For those of you interested…) – Haltead, Spender, Pearson, Bolland, Edwards, Hulbert, Rutherford, Goodfellow, Owen, Chadwick, Blundell

15.00 KICK OFF

14.56    DONS LINEUP – Brown, Hatton, Bush, Yakubu, Franks, Wellard, Yussuf, Moore S,  Jackson, Kedwell, Nwokeji

14.54   This is actually quite fun… was thinking I should do this every time I can’t make a game, and looking at the fixture list I realised this is actually my fourth consecutive away game missed… not good enough!

14.53    Just realised the BBC score service is not available via the red button thanks to rugby. So my telly will be playing out Have I Got News For You until 4.30…

14.49    More team news coming through – Steven Gregory on the bench paying the price following his recent poor form, although TB’s vow to shuffle his pack may have played a part in that…

14.46    Nice little start to the preamble by Mikey T, where for at least a minute he fails to realise he’s live on air… love the fact that whenever anything goes wrong the veneer of professionalism goes out the window! It gives me a warm feeling inside… very Wimbledon…

14.42    The BBC live text is still currently showing Barrow v Newport, but some team news is filtering through… In place of the ill Jon Main, Mark Nwokeji gets a rare start, and Andre Blackman steps back for Chris Bush. Presumably Andre is being rested for Thursday, as you all know I prefer a Blackman to a Bush any time… 

14.36 Yup, thats me logged in for the day. And with only 86 people currently in, heres hoping I won’t be getting kicked out. Catastrophic equipment failures aside of course… Talking of equipment, the BBC version of this no doubt has numerous live feeds to bring you up to the second information, I have one screen (with freeview) that is currently showing WRC on Dave, and an audio feed that hasn’t started transmitting yet…

14:29    Welcome to the inaugural Anonymous Don live blog. Effectively the next best thing to the istadium – if only because its effectively like not being able to get into the istadium and having someone tell you whats going on. Coming live a mere stones throw away from Kingsmeadow (presuming of course you can throw a stone half a mile…), I’ll be in a position to immediately respond to any events from Barrow immediately. Please ignore any spelling or grammar errors. Talking of the matchday stadium…

Tagged ,

WUP 8.4

First published in November ’10 in WUP, my reaction to a shocking FA Cup draw, as Dons fans had to face the prospect of facing Them for the first time. Also, a round up of first round action where FCUM hit the headlines…

The blog post I refer to in the second paragraph can be read here.

I think all of us are going to remember where we were when ball five and ball thirteen somehow made their way out of the hat together, in the same manner everyone remembers where they were when JR was shot… sitting in front of the TV like everybody else… For me it was a very surreal moment, I’ve only ever felt like that before once a few years back, when I momentarily thought my finger was off after an incident involving a pen knife and an uncooperative tin of hot dogs. Fortunately my finger was at worst only mildly mutilated, and went on to make a full recovery… and AFC Wimbledon will too. Of course, thanks to the wonders of modern technology you got to read my thoughts on the draw mere hours after it happened, thanks to what at the time was just my feelings and initial reaction spilling forth onto a blank document, but went on to become the most widely read and influential few hundred words in Anonymous Don history… all two years of it. In fact the only post that to date has garnered more attention was a series of six photographs – no text – published shortly after the Hampton away game.

Some might say it was because I caught the zeitgeist. Others will say it had more to do with rival Dons bloggers being on holiday at the time. But for 48 hours, the usual handful of visitors a day were replaced by thousands worldwide as the post was linked from guestbook to message board, website to word of mouth. Which of course, rapidly raised the profile of the blog. Or should I say, rapidly inflated my ego to the point my head almost exploded. With so many people viewing, someone influential was bound to spot it sooner or later, or so I thought… and it all came to a head on Tuesday when I found myself being interviewed by Paxman on Newsnight giving my opinion on the whole gory episode, confidently batting off Paxo’s naive attempts to play Devils Advocate… in my head, of course, all in my head, as I walked to work that morning. Naturally, once the average football fans attention span moved elsewhere everything died down again, leaving me to get on with enjoying writing about football rather than staring at a rapidly increasing blog stats page.

Of course, by the time you get around to reading this article, the whole sorry situation could have blown over, as ITV sheepishly prepare to show the Ebbsfleet v Stevenage game. If it hasn’t, I would imagine there is a bit of a strange atmosphere at that Kettering game… But it does at least mean I am sort of justified in ignoring the whole sorry process from this point on. There was so much more to First Round weekend than the draw. Starting of course on Friday night at Spotland. Our friends up at FCUM had what looked like a plum tie, a great night out at a rival much further up the football pyramid – like us at Millwall last year you get the impression despite the relative league status the visitors were probably the bigger side. Football should have done the talking, to be honest I thought ESPN were having a laugh when they chose it as their Friday night game… we all knew FCUM would put up a decent battle in front of their army of fans, but it had 2-0 home win written all over it. Oh me of little faith.

It turned out to be one of those games that reaffirms your faith in the FA Cup. After I finally found a suspect website capable of streaming the match with sufficient quality to actually be able to spot the current official FA Cup ball… which truly is awful by the way. It’s apparently orange, but so dull there is a real possibility that irony will intervene, shall we see a second round game halted as the players cannot spot the ball amidst the mud on a threadbare pitch, forcing the referee to call for a white ball? Watching the Southport-Sheffield Wednesday game I found its barely more visible on a standard television set. What a cock-up, I’m sure ESPN and ITV were delighted with the decision… although ITV have been doing their very best to turn people off their football coverage for years now, I smell a conspiracy… Of course FCUM were accused of hypocrisy over their decision to switch their game to Friday night for TV, absolute nonsense of course… I was depressed but sadly not surprised to read isolated comments from other northern non-league sides along the lines of FCUM being disliked due to the perception they feel they ‘invented non-league football’… where have we heard comments such as these before? It’s nice to know jealousy is alive and well lower down the pyramid.

Unlike either of our encounters with League sides, FCUM got their moment of glory thanks to an almighty cock-up from the Rochdale keeper. It was one of those incidents you expect the referee to blow his whistle, and we all know the law is the goalkeeper should be in control of the ball, from the replay it appeared to be a very rare example of a goalkeeper having both hands touching the ball but NOT being in control of it. As Norton tapped in to the open net, you do wonder whether the referee might have had the four thousand or so FCUM fans behind him weighing on his mind as he decided whether or not to make a decision! Their victory, when confirmed, also led to another of those FA Cup traditions sadly lost to security madness over the last few years… the non-League clubs fans coming onto the field to chair their players back to the tunnel, and imagine if we ever did that – we would get hammered from all sides, including a sizeable minority within our own club!

While we were playing out possibly the worst cup tie of the weekend, the First Round was creating drama and excitement wherever you looked. The big story, certainly the one that struck me immediately when I got home, was Dover’s victory at Gillingham. The back story made it all the more sweet for Dover, I’m sure Andy Hessenthaler feels a bit of a wally right now… Dover are a club on the up, but I’m not sure this really signals a swing in power in Kent football, however if Gillingham continue to remain in the doldrums and Dover their impressive recovery of late, this could be a League fixture in a few years time. Another BSS club doing well were Woking, with Brighton top of League One they pulled out what should have been the hardest possible draw for them, but escaped with a replay. With a three division gap between the clubs, if you thought we were frustrated after the Ebbsfleet game imagine how Brighton fans must have felt…

Of course, the two games mentioned above must have been all the more sweet considering ITV deemed there no chance of an upset on either of them, instead sending their teams to Fleetwood (who didn’t quite manage it) and Harrow (who battled well but were always looking to make up too much of a gap). THe first round highlights package i just about the only highlights show I can remember when about a three-quarters of the way through it finally happens – you lose the will to watch any more football (especially if you do Match of the Day and flicked to the Football League Show during the adverts…). Fortunately, this year, ITV catered for this by screening the Dons highlights at the very moment that feeling kicks in – glad we could be of use for something on First Round day…

I never tire of telling people how much the FA Cup still means to me, and I presume it matters as much to all of you of a similar age (I was ten years old that hot May afternoon at Wembley in ’88). I can only hope by the time you read this we are still involved in the competition, and cross our fingers that we are looking forward to a tie next week that all of us can enjoy.

Further WUP articles can be found in the Features Index

Tagged , ,

Barrow, Barrow, Barrow…

Not much of a match preview on this one, to be honest I’m currently amidst writing a WUP column, which if all goes to plan you will be able to read at the Kettering game, in which I make up for the datedness of material by only using my A-grade stuff…

And it won’t be much of a match report either, as I won’t be going to the game (clashes with my birthday…). Because of this I’m planning on doing something different – a live blog. I think this might be the first time in Wimbledon football history anyone has attempted a live blog based solely around a radio transmission… but why not??? It’ll be a laugh. And if it’s not a laugh, I’m sure it’ll be a… something… At very least it could be the first instance of a blog that jumped the shark, but its hard to keep up these days with gimmicky rivals such as Maliniok’s blog (written in Polish) or SW19’s (surely the biggest cheat of all as I’m sure fan writing isn’t supposed to actually be readable…).

So come tomorrow at 2.30pm, pull up your computer, crack open a beer, log on to iPlough Lane in one window and keep the Anonymous Don open in another… or just read back after 5PM to catch up with what the fuss isn’t about…

Tagged ,