Bedfont Town 1 AFC Wimbledon 1 22/7/11 Match Report (And Watford Mini Preview…)

I’m going to get all talk of planes out of my system early in this match report. Although I worked at the airport some ten years ago, and am fully aware just how big and how loud they can be, a trip to Bedfont is always a bit of an eye opener. As I mentioned in my news article, the planes themselves are nothing new to me, but standing in a football ground, trying to concentrate on whats going on in front of me while they are taking off in the very near vicinity is a weird experience.

As I had my back to the airport in the first half, it was just noise, yet I still found myself craning my neck to look when a big one took off… and those big ones need to use all the runway to get off the ground, so were barely off the ground by the time they passed us. The second half on the pitch was nothing worth writing home about, and as I now found myself facing the runway it turned into a full on forty-five minute planespotting session.

As for the game, the Dons took the lead in the seventeenth minute, Chris Bush firing a shot from fifteen yards that the Bedfont keeper got a palm to but couldn’t stop it nestling in the bottom left corner. Bedfont were level ten minutes later when the Dons suffered a disjointed moment, gifting possession in a dangerous area of the field and allowing Bedfont to work a two on one, before the ball found its way into the net under Jack Turner.

I have to write briefly about Jack Turner, as it doesn’t look as though he will be going out on loan after all, which is a real disappointment. You never know, a Conference side could lose their keeper early on and Jack might find himself sent on loan to cover, but playing out the whole season elsewhere would have been invaluable, letting him make his mistakes and learn his lessons.

He only made one last night, missing a corner which lead to Bedfont turning the ball into the net, but fortunately via one of the opposition players showing off his handling skills. That was the last meaningful action in the half, in fact of the game (although I vaguely recall a Bedfont player shooting into the side netting deep into the second period).

The young Dons performed well technically, lots of nice passing moves and possession football, but much like the first team at times there was no real sign that anyone wanted to take responsibility for finishing in dangerous situations. It was almost as though in the absence of any desire to shoot, their prefered method of scoring was to pass the ball into the net.

This is all well and good in preseason as a training exercise, but as they seemed proficient at keeping the ball already, it would have been nice to see someone take responsibility in the box rather than knock the ball around until someone decided to let fly under pressure, losing the ball over the low terrace in doing so. This is probably clutching at straws, the young players will hopefully learn in the development squad next term and those getting the chance to step up will be better players for it.

With the game finishing level, there needed to be some way of deciding who lifted the John Morris Memorial Trophy, and in time-honoured pre-season fashion that was via a half-hearted penalty shootout. It was almost surreal watching a Dons side step up post-Eastlands for penalties in such relaxed circumstances – no clenching required here, I doubt many Dons fans cared either way.

The shootout was initially interesting in a Womens World Cup Final kind of way, in that it didn’t look like either side were capable of scoring, the Dons leading 1-0 after two penalties each thanks to two good Jack Turner saves – the second coming from Bedfont manager and Dons record scorer Kevin Cooper. Turner showed the way himself with a calm third penalty to put Wimbledon in the driving seat, before Chris Bush finally finished what he started with the winning final kick to give the Dons a 3-2 victory.

Not much learned as far as the first team is concerned, for what its worth we remain unbeaten in this shortest and simplest of pre-season campaigns, with Crawley just seven days away as I type. I think we are all hoping the stiff test of a full strength Watford side will tell us more about our team, and TB has announced a starting lineup that is probably 80% strength.

Brown seems to be in discussions with a couple of strikers with League experience, yet it doesn’t sound as though a deal will be struck until later next week. Presumably whoever he brings in won’t be a season changer, more adding to our strength in-depth and providing a different option to Midson and Ademeno, who will presumably join Luke Moore in a front three. If it is a major signing, for selfish reasons I kind of hope the news comes through very late next week, as I just finished a season preview for a national Football League blog and don’t want to have to rewrite it…

As for our visitors Watford, well I’m sure their supporters are quite happy to see us back in the League as well, especially the manner we clinched promotion at Eastlands. I’m planning on heading to the bar early, not only to pick up my season ticket, but to see if any Watford fans are interested in showing their gratitude in the form of beer…

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