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indeed turned out to be the League Two equivalent of Forest Green Rovers (although this might now be considered an outdated comparison as the real Forest Green Rovers managed to win 6-1 away from home on Saturday…), as the Dons huffed and puffed their way through an error strewn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…

Advertisements
Tagged ,

One thought on “AFC Wimbledon 1 Hereford 1 20/8/11 – A Match Report

  1. wgimenes says:

    Lower expectations if you wish.

    My heart is still firmly set on a playoff place 😉

    All we need is 3 more bodies up-front.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: