Daily Archives: July 13, 2011

Staines Town 1 AFC Wimbledon 5 12/7/11 Match Report

How about that for a snappy title? Sorry, but remember it’s pre-season for bloggers too…

In terms of pre-season entertainment (if that isn’t a phrase that screams ‘contradiction’), I’ll give last nights action at Wheatsheaf Park 3/5 – for the first half, at least. For some reason both sides changing sixteen odd players at once has an effect on the flow of a game… Ignoring the obvious question over whether our pre-season schedule will be long enough to prepare us for our first crack at the Football League, the fact there are currently only sixteen days until our first meaningful competitive action means it will at least be mercifully short for those PSF-haters among us.

As for the occasion, firstly, I misjudged both (i) the length of time it takes to walk to the ground from Staines Bus Station and (ii) just how long it takes the 216 to wind its way through Sunbury and Ashford, and consequently missed kick-off. Having said that, on entry to the ground five minutes in I had to double-check this was indeed a Dons first team fixture, so sparse was the ‘crowd’. This might have had something to do with our opponents popularity among Dons fans being in the basement, it almost certainly had quite a lot to do with our hosts decision to charge £10 entry (there being a certain psychology towards handing over a ten pound note for admission and not getting any change).

I’d only been in the ground for thirty seconds before further frustration set in, upon buying a copy of the programme, It’s Massive. It’s called ‘It’s Massive’, and it’s also massive. Those WFC circa late ’80’s A4 efforts normally aren’t a problem if there’s a bit of substance behind them, but weighing in at only eight pages it threatened to buckle in the breeze, a huge problem for those of us anal enough about our programme collections to worry it might get damaged…

I was still navigating my way around the ground when the Dons scored their first of the evening. The laughter should have told me it wasn’t actually Sam Hatton who grabbed the goal, as Staines PA guy erroneously announced, but having missed it completely I felt like someone walking in on the end of a joke… Unfortunately those I was meeting also missed the goal, partially my fault, they were watching me wandering in behind the opposite goal. So if anyone wants to contribute with a description of the first, feel free to use the comments section below…

It didn’t matter, as the second wasn’t long in coming. Chris Bush, who by the way looks as though he’s been saving money from rent by simply living in the gym since we saw him last (and he wasn’t exactly a victim of bigger boys kicking sand in his face back then either…), floated a perfectly weighted cross from the left for Lee Minshull to nod back into the opposite corner.

StainesHaving stopped sweating from my dash down Laleham Road, and with no further goal action for the time being, I got the chance to survey my surroundings. Wheatsheaf Park is one of the nicer local grounds, the main stand dominating, with the pitch looking perfect I could think of no finer place to watch a pre-season game. I earlier alluded to a grudge some Dons fans still hold, but to be honest from the congratulations offered in their programme to the friendliness of everyone connected to Staines I had the privilege of encountering on the night, the club has a bit of class about it… I’m glad at least at board and management level our two clubs have a decent relationship, I can think of no better club to send some of our young players to develop further, especially after last terms decent finish in the BSS (it’s just a shame they don’t need a goalkeeper…).

I was snapped out of it by goal action on the half hour mark. The Dons won a penalty, and after a bit of a playground squabble between would-be takers Sam Hatton and Jack Midson, the new boy won out and whipped his effort into the bottom left hand corner from a shortened run up.

Five minutes later after bagging his first in a Dons shirt, Midson was at it again, and the game was turning into a bit of a goalfest. This one was the best of the night, as Bush and Jolley combined down the left to tee up our new frontman for the easiest of finishes. The Dons should really have grabbed a few more, some of their football was delightful but they tended to overplay a little when in the last third. Ok, we can get away with it in pre-season, but without an obvious goalscorer going into the season we need goals from all over the field. Stevenage managed promotion last term despite none of their players managing double figures, which not only shows the importance of spreading the goals around the team, but what can be achieved if you do (although I’m not tipping us for a promotion push just yet!).

As you can imagine, the second half couldn’t live up to the first, especially once mass substitutions knocked the stuffing out of the game. Brendan Kiernan put the Dons five ahead on the hour mark guiding the ball into the bottom corner. Brendan had a decent game playing the Luke Moore role behind the front two, perhaps guilty of taking too many touches and losing possession a couple of times in the first half, but completely understandable from a young player looking to make an impression.

I haven’t got the time to write about all the trialists as I previously planned… Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz looked a handy back-up for Seb, although I’m basing that solely on his handling of backpasses, having little to do and being given no chance with Staines well struck consolation. Szymon Sidorowicz looked decent although obviously playing well within himself, but looked good enough technically to be in with a shout. Our resident Polish Don chatted to him on his way back to the dressing room, and it sounds as though it’s decision day for him very shortly…

The trialist who has attracted most attention has been Bas Savage, fair enough considering whoever is brought in now will effectively be considered by the majority of fans as ‘The Kedwell Replacement’. It’s fair to say Savage isn’t the sort of player you would naturally associate with the Dons playing style, in fact by comparison it was like watching an elephant trample through a field of tulips. Yet he didn’t look entirely out-of-place with the ball at his feet, and you wondered whether he would have made an impression had we played more to his strengths. Whether Savage will make it to Sutton on Saturday remains to be seen, with rumours other trialists are in the frame… We’ll know a little more this time next week, but by then we’ll need to, as the season will be all but upon us.

So to summarise, decent enough entertainment and personally an interesting first look at some of the new guys (I haven’t even mentioned Max Porter, although on this showing he looks part of the furniture already…). We aren’t going to enter the season in as strong a position as many of us thought post-Eastlands, and should rightly temper our ambitions accordingly. Yet we have enough talent in the squad to ensure next season shouldn’t be a struggle… we have plenty to look forward to.

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