Monthly Archives: August 2011

News Round Up 30/8/11

The dust has started to settle after the Dons 0-4 drubbing by Macclesfield at the weekend. No match response from the Anonymous Don, as I followed the game via WDON I’m probably not qualified to comment (which is a shame, as disseminating a shocking reverse is one of the most worthwhile aspects of club specific blogging), but my immediate reaction was this was a shocking scoreline.

I’m going to stand by that, no side should be losing by four goals against a divisional rival that, with all due respect, probably aren’t going to be challenging for the title this season. What I will say is a certain other London club who got hammered in the North West this weekend, one who spent much of the eighties and nineties benefiting from a robust long ball game but now are famed for their passing game, have decided to compensate supporters who made the journey. Although I’m not going to suggest our club follow suit… the Arsenal are cash rich having sold all their best players this summer and failed to replace them. Oh, hang on…

I’m sure most of those who followed the lads up won’t ask for any further compensation than and apology, and to be fair most of the playing staff have obliged over the last couple of days, be it on various social sites or via the media. Which is nice to hear, but you wouldn’t want them to make a habit of it, for obvious reasons. With transfer deadline approaching, TB could have made a knee-jerk reaction and acquired a new centre half, but perhaps sensibly he has chosen to stick with what he has for now…

I’m sure he was more likely to splash out his budget on that Kedwell replacement he spoke about earlier in the month, but we haven’t looked like we have a problem going forward. Far better to take stock of what we have over the coming months, only splashing out if we find ourselves in trouble come January… and I’m of the opinion TB has enough at his disposal squad-wise for a comfortable mid-table finish – if anything he just needs to learn the best combination. I hope to see an element of experimentation over the coming months, and will accept a degree of inconsistency while Brown searches for the right mix. Kieran Djalali looks like he’ll be the final signing of the summer for Brown, although you can never say never with our manager, he has thrown a few surprises our way in the past…

With a quiet deadline day and no midweek action, there’s little further of note newswise, although we are only without fixture this week thanks to our JPT bye. We’ll find our second round opponents at the weekend, with most of us crossing our fingers Brentford will do us a favour and beat the Franchise freakshow tonight. The club stealers have had a fair bit of media attention over the last week or so, mainly thanks to their unfortunate league position – and a fair bit of it has involved the national media falling for their revisions of history.

Don’t you just hate the way whenever we attempt to put our side of the story across in a calm and considered manner, some franchise loser pops up claiming ‘there are two sides to every story’, before spouting some absolute fiction in the hope of causing enough confusion the truth is buried? While the majority of intelligent football supporters are able to cut through the crap, unfortunately the majority of football supporters are not intelligent…

Fortunately Bath Womble has come to our aid with his excellent blog The Truth About Franchise FC, so next time the office wanker starts spouting rubbish again, you know where to send him…

At least we don’t need to worry about meeting them in the JPT – Brentford just beat them 4-3 on penalties… our eventual second round defeat will feel all the sweeter for it.

Kieran Djalili Signs, Sparking ‘Resting’ Dons Blogger Into Life

Interesting news coming through this evening that the Dons have signed former Palace winger Kieran Djalili following his decision to leave Selhurst in the summer. Personally this has come as a bit of a pleasant surprise at the end of a relaxing week for the Anonymous Don (so relaxing I forgot to write a Macclesfield preview – oops!). Its fair to say the Djalili signing doesn’t represent the big signing TB hinted at earlier in the month, this is more the younger forward kicking his heels waiting for the other deals to fall through.

Still, Palace fans seem to rate him highly, and expect him to perform in League Two. If anything his arrival will mix things up for a forward line that seems to be an automatic pick at the moment. Djalili and I have one thing in common, however – neither of us are travelling to Macclesfield tomorrow. Which has meant I’m suffering a personal fourteen day Dons match drought between Hereford and Port Vale, unusual at this time of year (I’m kind of thrown by the Football League neglecting to schedule August Bank Holiday fixtures at some point in our nine year absence…).

Yes, I could go down and watch the development squad over at Walton Casuals, a ground less than two miles from ADHQ but largely inaccessible without motorised transport unless I’m willing to either walk six miles or risk drowning crossing the Thames the old fashioned way… seriously, I like the Waterside Stadium, its a pleasant place to watch reserve football, but it might as well be located on a barge in the middle of the North Sea for non car owners…

Instead I’ll be listening in to the game on WDON. Normal bloggy service will resume after the Bank Holiday…

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AFC Wimbledon 1 Hereford 1 20/8/11 – A Match Report

Yes! We did it! We actually did it! Pop those champagne corks and soak it up, Dons fans, for yesterdays game is going to be one you’ll want to tell the grandkids about… AFC Wimbledon won a point at home in the Football League for the first time…

I’d much rather my glass was half full right now, as despite the sacrifices I made to the Football Gods in my pre-match preview the game actually went pretty much as I expected. Hereford indeed turned out to be the League Two equivalent of Forest Green Rovers (although this might now be considered an outdated comparison as the real Forest Green Rovers managed to win 6-1 away from home on Saturday…), as the Dons huffed and puffed their way through an error strewn performance that they seemed equally likely to lose as to grab a winner.

I have to admit an element of irritation before the game even kicked off. Despite breaking my attendance at a barbecue a mere ten minutes walk from Kingsmeadow, torrential rain conspired to ensure I was soaked through on arrival. An almost full Kingsmeadow felt packed to capacity as those with terrace tickets that would normally have been satisfied standing in the open corner packed under the roof – this was a good couple of hundred people, and having wandered to my position on the Tempest without having my ticket checked for the second home game in succession I’m pretty certain more than a few ended up somewhere they weren’t supposed to be…

Not that I blame them in the slightest, under the circumstances I would have done the same – the situation not helped by the fact a quarter of the JSS occupants (i.e. the visiting supporters) had been allocated half the capacity. This raises all sorts of issues over stadium management that I’m probably not best qualified to comment on, what I will say is there is a frustrating trend developing where the comfort of terraced spectators within the stadium normally compares with the level of performance on the pitch… so finding myself packed in and unable to move could only mean one thing…

It took Hereford eight minutes to find the net, that was almost ten minutes faster than Bristol Rovers on opening day. Once again, it was completely defendable… A hopeful cross into the box looked absolutely zero threat whilst in the air, yet Brett Johnson hesitated allowing Delroy Facey in, with Seb Brown in a different postcode somewhere over by his far post, the ball slid off the portly hitman’s forehead before rippling the net.

By all accounts Seb admitted blame after calling for Johnson to leave it, not that you’ll find anyone castigating him for it… his recent form has been exceptional and despite this he was rightly named the sponsors Man of the Match after a series of fine saves. Maybe the question we should be asking is why Johnson, as an experienced player, didn’t recognise the danger and step in, despite his goalkeepers call. Harsh criticism perhaps, but this is the Football League we’re playing in. That’s seven goals conceded this season, fair enough they came across five games, but they were seven preventable goals, and we can already count the points we’ve lost because of errors.

Wimbledon looked more likely to go further behind that level the scores immediately after the goal. Ricky Wellard summed up the Dons performance, one minute giving Hereford the ball, the next putting in an important challenge to prevent a visitors opportunity – this inconsistency dogged the home side all afternoon. Yet almost out of nothing, Wimbledon did find the net on twenty-five minutes, Sam Hatton swinging the ball over and Jack Midson getting his head onto it to send it into the roof of the net.

The Dons then had a spell that raised hopes they would go on and win the game. Straight after, Luke Moore had the ball in the net after a Midson shot deflected kindly for him, but was ruled offside. From the opposite end of the pitch it must have been close, the giveaway that Moore had strayed was probably the player himself, a competitive forward he reacted by holding his head rather than questioning the linesman.

Half time brought with it optimism that the Dons would come out fired up by TB and go on and win the game, as had happened at Plymouth in the week, this optimism proved as misplaced then as before the game. While chances were created, they were also presented to the visitors on a frequent basis. Seb Brown earned his MOTM with a few great saves, including one great one-on-one, but the home fans will have left the ground rueing some particularly good chances.

Off the top of my head I’m thinking of three (being tightly packed in isn’t great for note taking…). First, a deep cross found Ademeno at the far post, but his powerful header from an angle was well saved by Hereford keeper Cornell (signed on loan from Swansea mere minutes after my preview was published…). Then, Sammy Moore had a presentable chance to volley the Dons ahead, but his scuffed effort made it easy for Cornell.

The closest the Dons came to snatching all three points was an Ademeno header pushed away by the young Hereford keeper that in all probability had already crossed the line, but with neither referee nor linesman in a position to confirm you can’t really blame them for not giving it – if they had it would have been guesswork. Jamie Stuart seems particularly angry in the press, but the truth is if you want to make absolutely certain of scoring, you have to hit the back of the net… expecting the officials to make judgement calls based on a matter on inches is too much to ask.

Plus making an issue over one incident masks the fact that the Dons didn’t really deserve the three points, beyond actively trying to win the game. Thats not to say Hereford didn’t come looking for three points, their chances largely came about via Dons over committing or simply giving the ball away, but I can’t blame a side that hasn’t managed to chalk up a point settling for what they had rather than risk losing everything. What I will say is if Jamie Pitman ever found himself on Deal Or No Deal it wouldn’t be the most exciting episode you’ve ever watched, but he’ll walk away with a few grand all the same…

But for all the credit you can give Brown for it, you still don’t deserve to win the points simply through being prepared to roll the dice and take maximum or nothing… in fact it’s kind of expected of the home team. What I will say is despite our next opponents destroying Hereford at Edgar Street on Tuesday, I thought to myself on the way to the ground (partially as a way of distracting myself from the soaking I was getting) that next weeks trip to Macclesfield might turn out to be an easier game for precisely that reason, and despite the underwhelming performance I’m going to stick my neck out and stand by it.

In fact we might find ourselves picking up as many points on the road as we do at home this season. Away from Kingsmeadow the Dons are free to counter attack at will against opponents normally looking to be on the front foot in front of their own supporters, whereas at home we don’t always have the nous to unlock opposition defences.

Overall, yes it was frustrating, but there’s no point making excuses for the performance… we’ve already shown enough to convince all but the most pessimistic supporters we’ll finish comfortably midtable this term, and that should be enough. Six points on the road might have had us temporarily wondering ‘what if?’… And we may well find ourselves troubling the playoff picture come May. But everything we have seen so far suggests for that to happen we’ll need to improve – and quickly. The inconsistency we saw yesterday will likely dog us all season, some individuals improve, some won’t, and we’ll do some cosmetic work next summer to improve on wherever we end up this time around.

A downgrading of expectations will follow this result, and it’s needed… if anything the only wish-fulfillment we really need this season is a trip to Old Trafford or the Emirates in the FA Cup, and a subsequent cash windfall that might allow us to rebuild not just the KRE but the JSS as well, allowing us all to watch the Dons in the Football League in a little more comfort next term…

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Hereford Preview

This isn’t the Conference. There are no easy games at this level. Anybody can beat anybody else, anywhere. I know that, you know that. And yet, in the back of our minds, we’re looking at Hereford’s League position, the fact they haven’t gained a point, haven’t even managed to trouble the scoresheet, we’re looking at the goals Macclesfield scored on Tuesday night and noting goalkeeper Russell Hoult had the positional sense of a drunk monkey after a ride on the Waltzer and seems to have a glove deal with Utterly Butterly, and we’re thinking ‘How can we not win this?

And we’re doing this with a sense of regret, knowing we’re surely building ourselves up for a fall… this is Wimbledon after all, we know Wimbledon, we’ve been following them all our lives. No matter how well we might be playing, if there’s a striker looking to break his duck, he’ll break it against us; if there’s a side stuck rock bottom who are only going to win one game away from home all season, we’ll be the victim. That’s how supporting the Dons works…

On top of this, we’ve been in the division five minutes. It’s the curse of back to back away wins, all of a sudden things seem a lot easier than they seem… Don’t get me wrong, we’re all saying and doing the right things – I haven’t come across a Dons fan suggesting we’ll stride away with a two or three goal victory, but lets face it, if it doesn’t happen I’ll be disappointed, and all but the most pessimistic of us will go home and kick the dog/spouse/children.

Now I could be sitting here on Saturday night/Sunday morning (depending on whether I get a social life in the meantime) writing up a convincing victory, in fact it’s probably the more likely outcome. Just not as likely as our subconscious (the bane of all football fans) is allowing us to believe. Those of us who suggested the Dons might be lucky to get four points out of our opening league fixtures (and I am one) are feeling pretty chuffed right now – we would have taken something from the Bristol Rovers game if we hadn’t been hoist by our own petard, and the aforementioned maximum from our two road games has seen Dons fans focussing on the top, rather than bottom, of the table.

I actually have good memories of Hereford at Kingsmeadow. Back in 1998 I eschewed our opening fixture against Spurs in favour of Kingstonian’s first game in the Conference… In my defence this was during my student days, and I was far more interested in spending time drinking with my friends, and KFC provided a common denominator for a bunch of football loving lads who played for the same club side, followed various teams across London and beyond and who otherwise wouldn’t have seen eye to eye.

The video above documents the day, and will be of interest to Dons fans in just how much Kingsmeadow has changed over the years. Mainly cosmetic, no huge structural alterations, but these were the days when the Main stand barely held 600 and didn’t extend as far as pitchside (you can see supporters standing in the paddock, with the benches on this side of the field), the Tempest didn’t have a terrace, never mind a roof, and there was a strange brick structure right behind the goal at the KRE. And look at the state of the pitch! It might have appeared more like Bournemouth beach in our first couple of seasons, but judging by that video it seems K’s were saving money on a mower by simply setting fire to it…

Interesting days, I remember chatting to a Hereford fan outside the bar at half time, explaining to me how the long journey wasn’t helped by a long trek from the station… Thinking he might have come from Kingston, I pointed out Norbiton station was a few streets away, only to get the confused reply that his party had come via Surbiton – I never got to the bottom of whether this was police advice or an honest mistake… By the way, our current tenants won that one 2-0, it goes without saying a similar scoreline will do very nicely…

A victory will cement the Dons high placing in the early League table, but lets face it, until you get beyond six games its little use beyond a form guide, and three games in its barely that… Hereford might have lost three on the spin, but lets not forget the Dons promotion winning side did that in March last year, and things turned out alright for us. Losing three in a row at the start of the season is panic inducing, but we’ve got a long way to go even before promotion and relegation contenders can be determined… I saw the Hereford-Macclesfield game being described as a ‘relegation clash’ in the media, there’s no guarantee either or both will be struggling in eight months time.

Yet I can see how Hereford supporters might feel a little daunted travelling to a side having scored two goals in each of their four games played. The Dons are slowly but surely getting injured players back… Sammy Moore played a part in the Dagenham and Plymouth games, Fraser Franks is back in training, and I actually saw Mat Mitchel-King for the first time last Saturday (and for a Rio Ferdinand body double, I thought he might look a little more, erm, Rio Ferdinandy?). The Dons have got a few more options, especially in midfield… I kind of expected Max Porter would take the holding role, and in case of injury or loss of form Ricky Wellard would fill in. But now it seems Sammy Moore can do a job there, and thinking about it it makes sense – Moore has both range of passing and tenacious nature to make a success of the position.

When I was a kid playing up front and scoring goals was all the rage, during the late nineties it became fashionable to want to play ‘in the hole’, now it seems every footballer worth their salt wants to be a holding midfielder, even Toks throwing his hat into the ring this week. I’m half expecting to see enterprising coaches stick their most creative player in goal before the decade is out…

I’ve seen a few Dons fans comment that they want to see a settled midfield this season, I can understand why as football logic suggests a regular XI builds continuity, yet I would like to respectfully disagree and suggest our current crop of midfielders, having played together for a while, should be more or less interchangeable. This might not be important right now, but as midweek games and cup ties start piling up, the ability to shuffle his pack with no consequence in terms of strength could prove a real benefit to TB.

Yet this causes a problem for the Anonymous Don in attempting to predict TB’s starting eleven… we now have three players who could potentially play the holding role (Toks is more important causing chaos in the opposition half for the time being…), with question marks also over who is going to get the nod to start up front, and a suggestion Jamie Stuart is struggling with a knock. I’m going to go for the following…

Brown

Hatton

Gwillim

Stuart

Johnson

Moore S

Minshull

Yussuff

Moore L

Midson

Ademeno

If there is any possibility of Jamie Stuart starting, he’s going to start… I just can’t see TB either throwing Bush in or withdrawing Minshull from a midfield role unless his hand has been forced. If Stuart does break down during the game, TB can shuffle the pack knowing there is no midweek game to worry about, and Franks and Mitchel-King are back in full training so will be available soon.

As Sammy Moore started on Tuesday I’ll back him to go again tomorrow, despite still feeling his way back to full fitness. Charlie Ademeno made way for Christian Jolley at half time on Tuesday, and we don’t really know how Charlie is doing fitness-wise, I’ll still back him to start with Jolley reverting to impact substitute. A relatively ‘safe’ prediction I know, but as those injured squad members return, this game is starting to get more and more difficult…

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Post Plymouth Roundup

I don’t think any of us would have expected us to bounce back from defeat in our opening League fixture with back to back away wins, but here we are, six points in the bag, sitting in fifth position in the embryonic table.

Most Dons fans have realistic expectations this season, we saw as much from my preseason poll, but letting your mind run away with dreams of another promotion push are what being a football fan is all about – yes, unless something very strange happens, miraculous even (or collectively we have severely underestimated our team), we’ll find ourselves dumped back in reality…

Yet the Dons have already settled a few supporters nerves, notably mine. Firstly, were we even going to be competitive in the new division? Stupid as it sounds, despite being quite confident, I still had moments preseason where I thought to myself ‘What if we don’t win any of our first five game? Or ten???’. I actually had the same paranoia prior to our debut Conference season, I think it was down to seeing recognisable names and automatically presuming they must be light years ahead – it’s still going to take a few games to grow accustomed to our new surroundings.

I had slightly more serious doubts over our ability to hit the net on a regular basis. We relied on Kedwell a ridiculous amount, while I suggested those goals might have to be made up across the team, writing about it and watching it happen are two different things. Four games, two goals in each, Jack Midson grabbing three but the rest being spread across five different players… you couldn’t have scripted it any better than this.

Even better, after initial concerns over our defensive performance, we’ve come up with back to back clean sheets. Ok, this had quite a lot to do with some profligate finishing from Dagenham and, by all accounts (as I wasn’t there… boo!) Plymouth. But we needed to avoid conceding, those clean sheets were desperately needed. And we’ll be better in future because of them. A little luck might have been all that was required.

We have as much of an idea where Dagenham or Plymouth will finish this season as we do ourselves, but from what we have seen it’s likely neither will be up there and challenging. In other words we don’t yet know how big these wins were, and probably won’t until we look back on the season come May. But regardless of strength of opposition, these were big wins, and I mean BIG wins for our football club. Our first victories in the Football League could have been something of a psychological barrier, to get them under our belt so early, so convincingly, so, uhm, away from home

Now all we need to worry about is getting our first home win, which may or may not come at home to Hereford on Saturday… The flip side to getting a couple of wins and flying up the table early on is a couple of defeats will see us head in the opposite direction just as quickly, and we know regardless of our opponent’s League position, nothing is a given in this division.

Post Four Hundred – The Plymouth Preview

Nothing clever about the title, this is the four hundredth article on Anonymous Don, and will probably be the one that knocks me over the 100,000 view milestone, any amateur mathematician out there should be able to work out the average there (although about a quarter of those views have come within the past three months or so…).

I’ll be celebrating by not going to Plymouth tomorrow night, and therefore this is a slightly truncated preview. Hugely unfortunate that a short-term financial squeeze is preventing me from attending certain away games at the moment… and this was the one away game I wanted. I lived down in Plymouth during my student years… well I say years, an informal learning environment coupled with access to large amounts of cheap beer were two reasons further education and myself proved incompatible, so I left after eighteen months determined to get an entry-level job and work my way up. Thirteen years and, erm, one promotion and several sideways moves later, I can honestly say I don’t regret that decision one bit…

Further education and me might not have mixed, but Plymouth and me certainly did… When I first rolled up in that city I was an immature kid, but when I left I was a man. An immature man, yes, but a man all the same. I probably would have stayed down there but all the jobs were in London at the time, and after a meeting with my Bank Manager where he quite literally tore me to pieces I reluctantly moved back home.

Apparently the city has changed a lot since I was last down there, ten years ago now, and I would have loved to have gone for a pre-match wander to have a look round. It’s not just the city itself though, Home Park has been almost completely rebuilt since my last visit. And yet, I’ll be tuning in to listen on WDON tomorrow night instead…

On the face of it no better time to head down to Argyle, their young squad put to the sword by Rotherham, yet as we know ourselves all too well, young players can be inconsistent… We might find ourselves on the end of a backlash tomorrow night if we aren’t careful. Yet the Dons will have plenty of confidence behind them following our first three points back in League football… My overwhelming expectation is we will get a point, but without wanting to write anything that I might regret in twenty-four hours time, I have a good feeling about this one (although that’s based on nothing more than post-Saturday euphoria…).

On to expected lineups, and TB has done me a huge favour by suggesting in the press he’s going to stick with an unchanged lineup. I wasn’t expecting him to start Charlie Ademeno, but after a strong 75 minutes he doesn’t have too much choice but keep him in for this one. Max Porter is the only real question mark, but with Ricky Wellard not firing I think Brown will persist with him.

He’s had a couple of rough games, but he’s new to the club, looked decent in preseason, it would be wrong to discard him this early. Give him a chance to find some form, although Browns decision to bring on Sammy Moore to play that holding role on Saturday was interesting, I wonder whether he would consider him there permanently. It’ll be a bit of a waste for someone who has scored important goals, but at least we’ll know if he finds himself in a shooting position his effort won’t threaten a passing 131 on the Kingston Road.

My expected Dons lineup is as follows;

Brown

Hatton

Gwillim

Johnson

Stuart

Porter

Minshull

Yussuff

L Moore

Midson

Ademeno

Currently I’m 21/22 this season and hoping for another perfect XI to double my record from last season (to be fair to me I didn’t play this game every week…). I’m going to play it safe and go with the XI that started on Saturday. When you think of the quality we have on the bench, a recovering Sammy Moore, Chris Bush, Wellard, Mulley, Mitchel-King to come back and a possible new striker (?), this could get a lot more difficult as injuries and tiredness hit later in the year, but right now this Dons side is almost picking itself.

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Dagenham And Redbridge 0 AFC Wimbledon 2 13/8/11 – A Match Report

The Dons kept up their record of scoring two goals per game, this time shedding the annoying habit of shipping three, and thus recording our first League points, and League victory, for god knows how long. Nine years apparently. How long will it take us to tire of that song? Another nine years is my guess…

Now I have to admit, I didn’t take the thirty-six stop epic District Line journey I commented on in my preview, partly because I’m not stupid. Perhaps this fixture should be renamed, rather than District Line Derby, surely Change At Waterloo Then Take Jubilee To West Ham Before Boarding An Eastbound Train On The District Line Derby would be more accurate? Once on the District, it’s not exactly a short hop… the train called at Plaistow, East Ham, Barking, Southend, Lowestoft, Rotterdam, Gdansk and Narnia Heathway before finally pulling in to Dagenham East. Ok, not the longest journey we’ve ever made, but I’ve blocked the arse numbing coach journeys to Gateshead and Darlington from my memory, and tube trains weren’t designed for extended occupation…

The ground was pretty close to the tube station, and the Daggers are rare amongst football clubs in that they pretty much roll out the red carpet for visiting supporters… Even the view half way up the spanking new Marcus James end towers over the two adjacent stand roofs, and to cap it off, there’s a bar underneath it, with a couple of TV screens in. And a burger bar out back, that you might miss had there not been a sign at the first burger bar you come across just inside the gates advising not to queue for no reason and giving directions. Now that is class.

What isn’t class is a group of people who want to sit together each buying tickets separately, thus ending up with seats in completely different parts of the stand. We got lucky in that although the Dons contingent was large, it wasn’t quite large enough to fill the 1200 seat stand, meaning spares were available, and I was able to sit with people I know rather than my allocated seat. We got away with it this time, but tactics employed in the Premier League days may need to be redeployed (or not, as I seemed to find myself stuck on my own a fair deal back then…)

Once the game got underway, the travelling support initially had reason to worry, as Dagenham looked the better side early on, and might have threatened had they had a little more composure in front of goal. Unlike last week the Dons, while not looking entirely comfortable, went beyond the twenty-minute mark with sheets still clean, and started looking pretty threatening themselves. Charlie Ademeno was preferred over Christian Jolley for the start, and caused Dagenham all sorts of problems, setting up Jack Midson for the Dons first real chance, but the Not So Secret Footballer prodded over on the stretch.

The Dons eventually went ahead via the penalty spot, but it’s no exaggeration to say they should have had two more… a handball that went unspotted along with a rugby tackle on Midson, and along with this it appeared as though the Daggers should have gone down to ten men after their last man hauled down Midson just outside the area (him again, not having much luck with the referee as we’ll see in the second half…). As all these incidents took place down the opposite end it was difficult to tell what the referees thinking was behind turning down any of them.

When the referee finally caved in and pointed to the spot, the incident looked a little innocuous. A big Sam Hatton throw from the right flicked on and hitting the guy somewhere on the upper arm, the weight of previous appeals finally got to the man in black. The award caught the Dons fans a little off guard, one of those weird delayed celebrations followed as people finally caught on with what had happened. Luke Moore made no mistake with the kick, sending the keeper the wrong way for his second of the season.

With the tunnel situated just in front of the travelling support, the Dons fans were able to give the referee a little advice on his first half performance on the way in, followed by Charlie Ademeno, who was given a more rousing reception. Charlie’s performance was really encouraging, building on decent showings from the bench against Crawley and Bristol Rovers, and if he can stay fit he could prove a surprise hit… On signing I think most Dons fans expected Charlie to support an eventual Kedwell replacement, yet on recent form he’s providing us with everything Kedwell gave us and more, hardworking, almost impossible to shake off the ball and with an eye for goal.

Ademeno’s departure meant Jack Midson sneaked off almost unnoticed, blood appearing to be spurting from a head wound – well, perhaps ‘spurting’ is over dramatic, there was definitely red stuff on show. Not having seen the incident he could well have collided with a spectator with a heavily loaded hot dog, absence of mustard suggests that wasn’t the case, but either way Midson returned after the break, no bandaging apparent.

To be honest the Dons threatened to run away with it in the second half, Dagenham went from looking ex-League One to Conference fodder within the space of forty-five minutes. The second goal effectively finished the game, and was a fantastic effort from Toks, striding forward as the defence backed off, allowing him to fire a left foot effort into the top corner of the net, and worth the journey and ticket price on its own.

Dagenham had a spell lasting about five minutes directly after the goal where they forced a series of corners, but to be honest the Dons looked more likely to extend their lead from that point on. Even the removal of Ademeno provided little respite, Jolley coming on to terrorise the tiring home defence. Yet Wimbledon’s best chance of extending the lead was thwarted once again by the referee, this time right in front of the Dons follower allowing no excuses… Midson brought down as he bore down on goal, quite why the referee turned that one down I’ll never know.

The Dons were good value for the two goal cushion at least, but this early in the season it’s nice to see Wimbledon supporters remaining pretty grounded. This early in the season its hard to judge just how good a win this was, although three points away are always handy no matter which league you happen to be playing in, we’ll probably have more of an idea how we’ll get on by mid-September.

Until then, what of Dagenham? They certainly didn’t look like a side that almost survived in League One last year, although by all accounts they had a fair few injuries. Unlike Crawley and Bristol Rovers they probably won’t be challenging this year, and showed as much by failing to take advantage of a Dons defence still getting to grips with the division. They are probably closer to what you would expect of a mid table side this term, and if so we aren’t going to have too many problems achieving a respectable position this term.

For Wimbledon, well I remember commenting a little while back Nostradamus-like that losing a twenty goal a season striker won’t be a problem so long as goals are spread amongst the team, and here we are now, six goals scored, five goalscorers. Now if we do find that twenty goal hitman before the end of August (or one of Charlie/Jack/Luke get the knack of hitting the net), and the rest keep chipping in, who knows where that could take us?

We now move on to Plymouth and Hereford over the next week, two sides who shipped seven goals between them on Saturday. Yet once again, let’s keep our feet on  the ground for a moment (he says, after suggesting otherwise in the previous paragraph…). Plymouth are a young side operating under extreme pressure and budgetary constraints, their heavy home defeat could be as much of a blip as their decent point at Shrewsbury on the opening day. And Hereford, well a win in midweek over Macclesfield is a possibility, and could give them the confidence they have been looking for. The problem with being in a League where every dog has his day, what if we are the dog and have just had ours?

Two tough games, to add to the two we’ve already played and forty-two that will follow…

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Daggers Preview

It’s been a strange, depressing week. A week where the painful reminder there are an awful lot of fuckwits in our society, wandering among us on a daily basis, has been splashed on our TV screens… of course, I could quite easily use that very same sentence in a couple of weeks when Big Brother returns (I thought we’d killed that off…). Seriously though, it does make you wonder why we lock up intelligent creatures like monkeys in zoos when these animals are rampaging around among us, simply because they happen to be the same species as us? Let’s free the monkeys and take our kids to see these clowns throwing their shit over each other instead. The added benefit being the newly freed monkeys will benefit the economy, as they genuinely will work for peanuts…

This blog has always attempted to remain politically ambiguous, so I’m hoping the previous introduction will have offended both left and right equally… my right leaning readers will be frothing at the mouth that not only do I appear to be a closet animal rights campaigner, I’m also advocating the release from behind bars of known immigrants to undercut British workers… whereas the more liberal of you are preparing to boycott a blogger who compares what was a predominantly black crowd with monkeys. I’ll leave open the question of whether I’m actually part of the fascist media machine, like the BBC; or some kind of liberal conspiracy, erm, like the BBC…

While South West London has largely been untouched by the civil unrest, the Dons have been affected by looters…although it wasn’t publicised at the time, the club did actually sign Darren Bent on Monday, and stored him in the cupboard under the Strank Stand for safe keeping. Opportunists from the Cambridge Estate then broke into Kingsmeadow on Tuesday night and made off with him… rumour has it the big hitman is now being hawked in the pubs and markets of South London as I write… Seriously, with Jason Euell finally signing for Charlton this week (the tease…), losing out on one experienced front man can be considered unlucky, missing two suggests we were barking up the wrong tree to start with. I wonder whether that young striker Terry said was waiting in the wings is still prepared to sign up, or whether we have to start our search for a goalscorer afresh.

The irony is, with four goals in two games, and three of our forwards off the mark for the season already, the last thing we need is a striker. The Dons head to a Dagenham side desperate for the solid defensive performance that has so far eluded them, knowing the hosts will be the most direct threat we have faced as yet, and looking to capitalise on any errors forced. Like every manager in the division, John Still would have noticed how the Dons young side haven’t quite got to grips with the pace of this division yet, they are going to close down our back four quickly and at every available opportunity. If the Dons want to continue their commitment to playing football from the back, they are going to have to learn to switch on and concentrate for the full ninety.

In terms of any possible changes to the starting eleven, over the opening two fixtures we have looked much stronger following the introduction of three players. One of those is Charlie Ademeno, but having not played a full part in preseason and suffering a heel problem I don’t expect to see him start any time soon, the benefit being we can bring him on against tiring defences and watch him cause havoc, as he did against Bristol Rovers. Chris Bush has given us options when chasing the game in terms of getting himself over the halfway line, but I would expect Gwillim to start ahead of him once more, his experience, and more importantly his knowledge of the Dagenham boys will be vital on the field.

Which brings me on to Lee Minshull. The Dons looked much stronger when he came on last Saturday, and he was my surprise tip for a starting role on Saturday (at least he was until the Herald trumped me… damn journalists and their aversion to guesswork and hunches… they’ll put me out of business, if I had one…). The question is, if he does start, who is going to miss out? The choice is Wellard or Porter, with the former dropping back and filling in for Porter if he misses out. I have a feeling TB will opt for Minshull to replace Ricky as a like for like change, with Minshull getting involved and causing havoc going forward.

So my expected Dons XI is as follows (I’m 100% on this so far this season, stat fans, and looking to extend my perfect record to a second week…).

Brown

Hatton

Gwillim

Johnson

Stuart

Porter

Minshull

Yussuff

L Moore

Midson

Jolley

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The League Two Files – Dagenham And Redbridge

Our first away game in the Football League sees us brave a thirty-six stop marathon down the District line for a trip to Dagenham. In a way its a visit to a club that provide a template for our clubs immediate ambition… consolidation in League Two, followed by a promotion effort a couple of years down the line. It took Dagenham just two years to reach the third tier of English football, but unfortunately only one year up in League One, a victim of the fluid movement between the two divisions four up-four down brings.

Still, an incredible performance… an example for smaller clubs showing success can be achieved in League Two, and relatively quickly to boot, providing the club is well run. Dagenham have already achieved more in League football than some clubs do in decades. Much of the credit must go to manager John Still, a man current Dons boss Terry Brown clearly has a lot of respect for, something that perhaps eased through Gareth Gwillim’s permanent move across London during the summer… that Dagenham didn’t kick up a fuss and try to demand a fee (however small) for a player we clearly wanted, speaks highly of the integrity of club and management, and I hope we get the opportunity to repay that in some way in the future, even if all that means is selling out their stand come Saturday afternoon.

HISTORY

We’ve come across clubs with fractured histories in the past during our rampage through the non-league game, none more so than the Daggers themselves. There’s enough history in the clubs that eventually came together to form the current entity to write three articles… Ilford, Leytonstone and Walthamstow Avenue won the FA Amateur Cup on seven occasions, including Leytonstone’s 1947 victory over the Dons, and you can throw Dagenham’s 1980 FA Trophy victory into the mix.

The series of mergers began when Ilford and Leytonstone came together in 1979, picking up Walthamstow Avenue along the way and becoming Redbridge Forest in 1989. The new club shared Dagenham’s Victoria Road ground and eventually merged in 1992, by which time Redbridge Forest had earned a place in the Conference.

The now fully formed Dagenham & Redbridge FC initially found themselves bach in the Isthmian League a few year s later, winning promotion once more in 2000 and becoming a real force in the Conference. To say the club knocked on the door of the Conference is an understatement, runners-up for the title in 2002… and they would have been champions too had it not been for some hardcore cheating from Steve Evans and Boston United – the Daggers two games against Crawley this season should prove very interesting…

After a few seasons rebuilding, including John Still returning effectively for the fourth time (after two spells as Leytonstone/Ilford manager, and a stint around the period Dagenham and Redbridge came together) in 2004, the Daggers finally made it to the Football League in 2007, pipping Oxford to the title. For a club of Dagenham’s size, mere survival was the initial ambition, and the club managed a 20th place finish in their first season.

A year later the club were at the right end of the table, finishing 8th and only missing out on a playoff place on the final day of the season. They were to go one better next time around, not just in terms of finishing in an all important seventh place, but defeating Morecambe (7-2 on aggregate) and Rotherham to claim a place in League One for the first time.

LAST SEASON

Dagenham far from made up the numbers in League One last season, despite being the smallest side in the division. Despite those intimidating four relegation spots, and aided in a way by the self-destruction of Plymouth and Swindon, the Daggers fought to the very last day. Unfortunately they slipped to their biggest defeat of the season, 0-5 at rampant (and soon to be promoted via the playoffs) Peterborough, meaning Walsall stayed up despite a 3-1 defeat at Southampton.

A season that was always going to be a struggle probably wasn’t helped by the clubs inability to keep clean sheets, only six, the lowest in the division. If they had converted just one single goal defeat into a point they would have stayed up, instead they find themselves back in the basement, presumably the experience gained will ensure they will remain a tough opponent, even if an immediate return to League One is beyond them for now.

THE GROUND

The problem traditionally non-league teams face, one that the Dons are currently feeling and which Dagenham are in the process of dealing with, is that an impressive non-league stadium provides barely adequate once in the Football League. While the Dons seating issues will be resolved next summer with the construction of the new stand, Dagenham are one step ahead with their seating solution, and Dons fans will benefit from the new Marcus James stand on Saturday.

With the exception of the Main (Carling) Stand the rest of the ground is terracing, covered down the side and open at the end (with added scoreboard). With a capacity of just over 6000 Victoria Road (or the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Stadium) has now fulfilled Football League requirements

ADMISSION

Dons fans already in possession of tickets will have taken advantage of Dagenham’s pre-purchase deal, with a sharp markup on those tickets bought on the day (in brackets);

Adults £19 (£22)

Concessions £13 (£15)

I haven’t compared them with Dons prices because not having seating behind the goal at the moment doesn’t make for an accurate comparison, but those who buy on the day on Saturday (and invariably will get stuck in the corner) will find they have paid £3 more than the best seats in the house at Kingsmeadow…

PREVIOUS

I’m not going down my normal route of delving into the history of WFC encounters with the Daggers previous incarnations, as there were just too many of them… 94 meetings with Ilford, and 9o with Leytonstone, as well as 54 encounters with Walthamstow Avenue. and not forgetting the six times we faced Dagenham.

In the modern era, for both clubs, this is the first competitive encounter, however the Dons went down 0-1 in a pre-season game at Victoria Road back in 2004.

LINKS

Official Website

Daggers Forum

9 Men

Football Ground Guide

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AFC Wimbledon 2 Bristol Rovers 3 6/8/11 – A Match Report

Another week in the big leagues, another 3-2 defeat, more suicidal defending… yet clearly nothing to worry about just yet for us Dons fans. If we weren’t scoring goals, that might be a problem, but the upside of conceding preventable goals is by their nature they are, erm, preventable in future… if we hadn’t repeatedly given our opponents the ball in close proximity to our goal, we wouldn’t have lost that one.

I know talk before the game was this was all about the occasion, and the result was irrelevant (to a point), but despite doing everything we possibly could in the first twenty minutes to gift our opponents victory, we would have taken a point after an encouraging comeback had it not been for one moment of madness…

The penalty decision, on first glance – which was from the Tempest end a good hundred yards from the incident – looked pretty nailed on… An arm went up from someone in a Dons shirt, the ball struck it, the ref blew and pointed to the spot. At the time I couldn’t really understand what complaint the Dons players surrounding the referee could possibly have had.

Watching it back from a more favourable angle (and how much of a godsend is the Football League show? No more waiting 48 hours for AFCWTV…), at the moment of impact between the ball and Brett Johnson’s arm, he was in the process of being wiped out by Byron Anthony, including a forearm to the face, and couldn’t possibly have judged the flight of the ball to intentionally make contact. It’s an unbelievably harsh penalty decision, and the Dons can count themselves pretty unlucky.

I suppose under the circumstances we should be grateful that it was Brett Johnson who conceded the penalty, had it been one of our younger players the knowledge they had cost us the game, on such a big occasion for the club, might have taken some time to recover from. I don’t think we’ll have any problems with Brett Johnson, an experienced player like him will bounce back, he’s been our most consistent defender over the past couple of years, hands down (ouch…).

One of the reasons I got the penalty issue out-of-the-way early is, yes, you could probably consider us quite unlucky to go down to such a late penalty, but on the balance of play Bristol Rovers deserved their victory. The squad are going to have a few nightmares over the first two goals when they sit down to watch them this week, but before that Christian Jolley could have given the Dons the lead, racing clear down the left channel, unfortunately knocking the ball too far and giving Rovers keeper Bevan a chance to close him down, the deflection seeing the ball balloon over the bar.

As for the two Rovers opening goals, well the first was a consequence of the Dons dedication to playing the ball out from the back. We got ourselves into trouble a couple of times last season, against the better prepared sides in the division, thanks to the managers insistence on Seb Brown throwing the ball wherever possible, but to be fair its our best chance of developing a move… when Seb is forced to kick long the ball invariably is returned with interest more times than not, Jack Midson can’t win every ball launched forward. This might change if the club employs the services of the target man they are rumoured to have their eye on, but even then, play to your strengths, the back four and midfield are just going to have to get used to finding space quickly when Seb receives the ball – a punt up field to a big lad should be last resort.

Perhaps Seb was a little unfortunate, as he would have got away with his careless throw had it not caught Ricky Wellard a little by surprise, the ball getting caught under his feet and subsequently robbed from his possession. The last person you’d really want the ball to fall to was Scott McGleish, he might be 38 but you never lose the knack of putting the ball in the net, and he was never likely to miss.

If that goal could be put down to nerves and misfortune, the second was unforgivable. Just minutes after giving the ball away you wouldn’t have expected two of our better players in Yussuff and Johnson to contrive to give the ball away on the half way line, allowing the little legs of McGleish to carry him deep into the Dons box. His first effort was well blocked by Browns feet, only for the ball to drop back at the veteran forwards feet for him to clip in for, of all people, Matt Harrold to nod home.

Of all the players we have come up against that haven’t had franchise links, Harrold is one of the least popular after his bullying act on the Dons BSS standard back four in the Wycombe cup tie three years ago. The Dons are now of a standard equal to, or possibly in advance of his ‘quality’, so how galling that it was him who bundled home a goal that at the time seemed to have ended the game as a contest, especially as it gave him the chance to hold four fingers up to the Tempest end… kind of flattering in a way that the Dons are seen as such a threat in this division, but still – it was three years ago. He doesn’t even play for Wycombe any more. What a dick.

The Dons eventually created another chance worthy of note as half time approached, but Midson’s ball through to Luke Moore in a two on one situation got caught under his feet, and once again Bevan was on hand to smother the chance. It seemed our best chance of getting back into the game before the break had gone, but moments later a Christian Jolley charge down the left was crudely halted. Sam Hatton swung the resulting free kick over, Jamie Stuart only needed to guide it beyond Bevan and into the top right corner – Kingsmeadow had some hope again.

During half time I would normally have read my copy of WUP, but I can only presume it sold out (not that I really made too much of an effort to find someone, running late as I was), so was forced to read the programme instead. The bloke in front of me did have a copy, examining every article in fine detail as I read over his shoulder. That was until he got to the Anonymous Don ramble, where he quickly turned the page, an incident which almost provoked a rare outburst of Don on Don violence…, until I realised ‘Of course, he would have read that before the game, probably moments after purchasing his copy…’. Yeah, that’s probably what happened. Probably.

Wimbledon looked so much better in the second half you would have thought Brown had sent a team of lookalikes out in the first, just to confuse the opposition. Despite not really creating any clear-cut opportunities, it was much better football, the Dons looked dangerous going forward and I was pretty confident the equalizer was on its way. Brown took the opportunity to make a couple of changes, the disappointing Porter replaced by Minshull, who immediately provided an extra physical dimension to the Dons game. Moments later Christian Jolley, who had a storming hour or so on the pitch and hadn’t shown signs of fading, was also withdrawn. I can only imagine Brown was just looking for a way of getting Charlie Ademeno onto the pitch, and Jolley was unfortunate enough to get the hook, but any debate over the decision was ended less than three minutes later.

A Dons move seemed to have broken down, but was hopefully hooked back into the Rovers area by Wellard. Minshull got up well to nod the ball down, and Charlie Ademeno was on hand to fire under Bevan and put the Dons back on terms. With twenty minutes left, the hope among Dons fans was we would go on and win it, but it wasn’t all Wimbledon, Seb Brown had to make a couple of fine saves to keep Rovers out. And once again, despite all their possession, the Dons weren’t creating clear chances, and as the game entered its final stages it seemed they might had to settle for a point.

Then came the penalty, and I’m not going to go over it again, but if you are fortunate enough to earn a penalty in a tied game five minutes from time, you’d want it to be struck as well as Virgo hit this. Even if Seb Brown had gone the right way he wouldn’t have got near it, although it was quite interesting in a week where this report was doing the rounds to note which way Seb dived.

The Dons best chance of getting back into the game probably fell to the wrong person, a deep cross found third substitute Chris Bush at the far post, who neither tapped back across goal nor buried it in the net, instead blazing over. The home fans gave the Dons a decent send off on the final whistle, aware this was a pretty decent performance – individual errors aside. Two encouraging defeats so far this season, but Wimbledon really need to start turning these sort of performances into results pretty soon… hopefully starting next week at Dagenham.

It might have only taken us nine years to earn our place back in the Football League, but hopefully it will only take another seven days for our first Football League win…

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