Tag Archives: Basingstoke

The Magic Failed To Make It (Basingstoke 0 AFC Wimbledon 1)

It’s too much, sometimes, to expect a game to live up to the expectations you place on it beforehand. I was torn beforehand between this turning out that the Dons turned up focused and romped to victory (baiting the Football Gods albeit) or a pulsating cup tie where the Dons ran out victors by the odd goal in plenty. In truth, it was neither, in fact it barely qualified as a football match… but still Wimbledon won. We now go through to the First Round Propa, with all the excitement and nervousness that brings.

Not that I wasn’t nervous or excited before this one, I was. But that pretty much evaporated within the first quarter-hour or so, as neither side showed they possessed the ability to take charge of the game, or even string more than a couple of passes together before tamely returning the ball to their opponents, or simply knocking it out of play. Perhaps that is unfair, the Dons did create a couple of openings in the first half, a Kedwell shot that might have been goal-bound had it not struck a Basingstoke mans arm on the way through (the myopic linesman on the dugout side was having none of it…), and Ricky Wellard wriggled through before slipping when well positioned… In fact a few slipped over on a pitch that seemed neither one thing or another – it was slick and relatively short, but seemed pretty thick and held the ball up on occasions.

Not that either side had much of an excuse, this was dire stuff. You know its a poor game when the off-field conversation turns away from the match and on to ever more random topics. In fact it was a strange atmosphere really, the Dons fans were strung around three sides of the pitch and there was no one area that focussed on getting chants and songs started, if it hadn’t been so cold it could have passed for a pre-season game. The Magic of the FA Cup is still alive and kicking, but I’m not sure which courier the FA use but The Magic failed to make it to this match.

Enough Dons players were switched on enough to ensure Basingstoke’s threat remained a remote one, and poor finishing  let the hosts down badly, although to be fair the Dons restricted them to efforts from range. Going forward it wasn’t quite happening for Christian Jolley down the left, Ryan Jackson was having more luck on his flank. To the point that at one point an esteemed fellow blogger voiced his concern that we overuse him. I thought about that a bit, and although that might seem so on days like today we do like to use both flanks and you can’t expect both young players to deliver every time. There have been occasions when Jolley has looked the bigger threat, and you have to remember Ryan is fortunate to have the impeccable Sam Hatton backing him up.

Jolley had Andre Blackman behind him, and did Andre take his opportunity with both hands? Erm… Actually ‘Erm…’ is probably an acceptable answer under these circumstances, Basingstoke didn’t overly test him this afternoon but he put in a couple of solid challenges, one of which saw him pick up a minor knock. He didn’t pick up a booking, nor looked like getting one (although you never know with Andre…), and showed no sign before that of the red mist descending. Yet because of the knock he was withdrawn late in the second half, much to his great annoyance. Yes, he took his frustrations out on the bench (that is the physical bench rather than those sitting on it…), but that because he knows he probably didn’t do enough to guarantee himself a start against Darlington next Saturday. He’ll get another chance in R1 though…

One performance I do need to pick out is that of Sebb Brown. On a day when he wasn’t really tested he showed excellent concentration and alertness on the occasions he was called into action, and his decision-making on high balls is coming into its own. Sticking high balls into the box has been the undoing of many a young keeper (including the Anonymous Don…), Sebb knows he can’t come for everything, and he can’t catch every ball he does come for. Last season, without the confidence that comes from being Number One for club and country, he may have flapped at a few of those balls, but today we saw a couple of well-timed punches, the ball ending up far from the danger area.

A less limited team would have caused us problems today, we could have had it a lot tougher undoubtedly, but we should be grateful for our victory. In effect it’s all we can ask for from our side in cup competition – especially the most important of them all. It won’t be a game that will live long in the memory, it didn’t need to be, but it gives us the opportunity of games that certainly will…

Tagged ,

Keep The Shirt (Basingstoke Preview)

I started this preview for the Basingstoke game a day earlier than usual, because the sponsors kindly decided to release the demo version of their 2011 game, and I know what would have happened… I would have download it, opened it up to have a ‘quick look’ and end up being found by my family five days later still in the same clothes, unwashed, suffering from malnutrition and the early stages of mental illness caused by sleep deprivation. Its a good job the wife isn’t around as its safe to say no housework will be getting done for a few weeks…

I’ve got to say I’m not really into computer games, and haven’t been since I was a kid and the first Championship Manager game came out, consigning all other games to the dustbin via several years in the cupboard gathering dust. I know its a bit of a cliche to go on about its addictiveness, but if you’ve never played the game before it’s fair to say you’ll probably be doing yourself a favour by leaving it well alone…

We’ve heard the stories of grown men (and women) finding social lives, relationships, even marriages cast out of the window because of it, and I think many of the more extreme stories are embellished by the publisher for publicity reasons… but I still know people who remember with great fondness winning the European Cup when they were teenagers – what other pastimes create moments that live with you for decades after such as this?

So while I still have the ability to write, lets talk Basingstoke. Will the magic of the FA Cup encorage a vast travelling army of Dons down the M3/South West Mainline to cheer our boys into the First Round? Well, maybe, but the fact that it’s a rare(ish) local(ish) encounter should be enough to see a more than healthy travelling contingent. For more than obvious reasons the FA Cup will always hold a special place in the hearts of Dons fans of a certain age, but the 4QR doesn’t hold the same air of mystery it did when we invaded Sittingbourne and Crawley en-masse. Been there, done that, been destroyed by the powerhouse team running away with promotion two divisions above us in the next round…

In fact, you wonder whether we might be heading for a bit of a fall here. Our captain has been idly discussing who he would like to play in the next round with the local press. The WUP guestbook has pondered a potential tie with Them in the next round – in fact even I considered jumping on the bandwagon with an article about it until I remembered we have to actually beat Basingstoke first… Lets not forget, while Dons sides in the past have revelled in the underdog tag we haven’t exactly been immune to the boot being on the other foot occasionally. I mean, who seriously thought we would lose at home to Workington in last years Trophy?

OK, this is a very different Dons sde to the overpaid and over rated part-timers of last term. But the fact is, for all their brilliance so far in the League, the current squads limited FA Cup experience in most cases hasn’t stretched as far as being such overwhelming favourites for such an important tie away from home. You wonder what it’s doing to their heads, for all the managers insistance they treat it with the seriousness it deserves will they even subconsiously lose focus, for long enough for it to be fatal and Important Lessons end up being learnt the hard way?

Ultimately the attitude certain young players show will decide whether its a comfortable victory or a nervy afternoon. And perhaps more than any of them, the performance of Andre Blackman could be key to our chances. Its probably pretty obvious that Andre is a far more technically gifted footballer than Chris Bush, for all the promise Bush has shown in his short spell at the club. And yet, Bush is starting games and Andre isn’t. Its a simple fact that if you are a full back then no matter how many players you can beat, how many impressive tricks you can use to bamboozle the opposition… if you can’t do the simple things right – defend solidly, concentrate at all times, clear your lines when under pressure – then the guy who can will get to play instead of you.

Andre now has the chance to show what he’s learnt from his time on the bench thanks to Bush’s enforced absence, and if he performs he will keep the shirt. I’m sure this is something he is very much aware of going into Saturday, as will Jon Main, Luke Moore, etc. One huge boost is the news Steven Gregory looks like being fit, as I mentioned after Saturdays game I feel he is every bit as important as Kedwell in terms of our ambitions for the season – if we can keep those two fit we will go a long way.

Before I go just a quick congratulations to The Youth, who progressed in their version of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win over Wealdstone – Maidstone or Dartford await them in the First Round proper, and once again The Youth are giving the senior boys a run for their money over which Dons side will play on a Premier League ground first…

Tagged ,

Pretty Underwhelming Trip

The draw for the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round gave the Dons… a pretty underwhelming trip to Basingstoke. At first I thought ‘Great, it’s a straight shot on the train from Surbiton…’, until I remembered the walk through endless shopping malls, down a seemingly never-ending road and over a major road junction. It’s a good job I’m doing the Minithon, I’m going to need the fitness (or maybe get a cab this time round?).

All things considered, the draw could have been worse – we avoided our Conference rivals, although probability suggested as most of them are based in The North and the draw is still regionalised we would have been unfortunate to pull out a Luton or a Crawley. We also missed out on real potential banana skins, I’m thinking away to Bromley/Chelmsford, Dover or Dartford, places where the locals would turn up in real numbers and make things tough for us. You get the impression that even a disinterested Dons fanbase will more than match the local turnout on the day…

And yet, it could have been better. A home draw against a Ryman League side would have been nice… Basingstoke are the sort of team who can cause problems for us by getting right in our faces and turning the occasion into a Proper Cup Tie. With a sprinkling of Cup Magic we might be on the wrong end of an upset. No fielding weakened sides here – we are going to have to put out a full strength eleven firing on all cylinders to ensure our place in the First Round… even then anything less than full commitment could see us dragged back to Kingsmeadow for a replay… or possibly worse…

Basingstokes home form hasn’t really set the division alight so far with two wins, two defeats and a draw, but as we all know anyone driving down the A339 past the ground best avoid the Form Book, as its going to go flying out the window come kick off time…

Our last visit was quite early in our BSS promotion season – I vaguely remember it should have been a complete hammering, but the Dons ended up holding on for a 1-0 win. My only other recollection was the outside of the ground reminded me vaguely of walking past the old South Stand at Plough Lane, but this may have been because it’s also painted yellow and blue…

There have been a couple of links between the two clubs already this year, although Basingstoke haven’t had much luck with either of them… Ross Montague signed for them over the summer following his release, only to promptly damage his knee ending his season (and lets keep our fingers crossed not his career?). Then last month young striker Delano Sam-Yorke went for a loan spell, but ended up getting sent-off in his first game…

I mentioned yesterday how the FA Cup is quite favourable towards Conference clubs like ourselves… we only need to win this game to get to the First Round and potential windfall (as well as a share of the replays pot). We need a good run this year to keep our name on people’s lips, remind our local public and floating support that we are on the verge of something great… decent FA Cup runs don’t normally result in a long-term growth in league attendances, but every bit of publicity helps… Basingstoke won’t be a walkover but a win should be expected…

Tagged ,

AFC Wimbledon 1 Basingstoke 0 – A Match Report

That rumbling feeling in the pit of my stomach. Its been growing since I arrived back in the country on Wednesday night. This morning, as confused repetitive dreams are replaced by daylight and dawning realisation, I remember why. Its match day. Basingstoke are coming to town. They shouldn’t cause us any problems, should they?

The butterflies fail to go away, in fact they grow in number, threatening to flood my throat and prevent me breathing. Its 12.30pm; jetlag has forced my lie in, and as I step into the bath Eastleigh are taking the field against Bromley. I allow myself to daydream that Bromley have forced an unlikely victory until the bathwater cools to lukewarm, I feel the cold, its time to get ready for the game.

I wait until I’m walking to the game until I dare check the final score. Eastleigh have won 1-0. They would, I think, knowing the gap at the top is down to one point, hopefully temporarily. I carry on my way, making sure each pre match tradition is upheld, walking past the bus stop on the road side and trying to remain on the road for as long as possible, past Fatboys and the chip shop, all the time trees and kerb remaining on my right side, until the final tree, I’ve made it all the way. Programme and copy of WUP are purchased. I briefly allow myself to admire my own article, meet friends, forget these particular good people don’t know about my blog, and have to spend the next few minutes patiently explaining to them what it is and what I write here.

The Tempest End, decorated for the occasion

The Tempest End, decorated for the occasion

It takes my mind off the game though, laughing nervously, I can barely get my words out. I take some photos. Make some notes. The team step out late, they look confident none the less, and the realisation the despite any nerves hidden in the bellies of our players, Basingstoke are near the bottom of the league for a reason. I pray for an early goal.

Basingstoke come to defend and play over the top on the break wherever possible. Wimbledon are taking control but heavy touches and overhit passes, the classic signs of nervousness, are hindering progress. The first chance of sorts falls to Basingstoke. Matt Warners strong run and shot is straight at Pullen, but stings his palms as he turns it away for a corner.

Then at last, on the quarter hour, a chance for the home team. A simple ball over the top, Reynolds lets it bounce and Main senses an opportunity, muscling the defender out of the way. His firm shot into the bottom left hand corner is not celebrated, the referees whistle had sounded several seconds beforehand, the first and certainly not the last time the official put paid to a Dons attack or generally frustrated, calling seemingly at random for minor infringements, not letting the game flow, whistle, whistle, whistle.

The impressive Basingstoke contingent at home in the KRE

The impressive Basingstoke contingent at home in the KRE

The Dons were celebrating soon after though following their best spell of pressure so far. Finn found space in the left channel, his effort was immediately blocked casuing the ball to loop up over Kitteridge, dropping goalbound until an unidentified Basingstoke man diverts the ball over the bar. The Dons smell blood and are rewarded from the resulting corner. Hussey hits in firmly, dipping viciously as it enters the area, and Alan Inns is on hand to stab home emphatically.

The celebrations are slightly muted for such an occasion and such a crowd, 4136 packed into the ‘Meadow,  as if to a man we realise its nowhere near job done yet. As if to prove us right, a spell of head tennis develops in the Dons area on the half hour, the men in blue cannot clear, and Ryan Stevens attempted overhead kick, although tame, appears to have caught Pullen out from my position in the stadium and its a relief to see it float harmlessly wide.

Minutes later the Dons are back on the front foot again. Good play down the left between Hussey and Finn releases the full back who finds Main, barely six yards out and with the goal to his mercy, who can only steer his header wide. Another Hussey cross then finds Alan Inns, whos firm header crashes against the left post and away.

Alan Inns - Immense porformance

Alan Inns - Immense porformance

At this point its worth mentioning the overall performance of Inns. The eventual man of the match, he was everywhere at the back. He never once looked like he would lose out in the air, and absolutely dominated the back line, abley assisted by his defensive partner Ben Judge. I was scathing of Inns lack of professionalism at Eastleigh, and after todays performance its even more frustrating knowing he won’t play a part in our last three vital regular season games. But letting bygones be bygones, he made sure that his last involvement in the title race was a positive one today, and I hope he greatly enjoys the curry a New Malden restaurant awarded him on account of his Man of the Match accolade. The Anonymous Don doesn’t give champagne or meals as reward, but for what its worth he was my star man by a street today.

Half time came and went, as I half witnessed an amazing display in the Square Up challenge, where a fan managed to keep the thing in the air… well I lost count but it was well into the twenties. For those normally in the bar its worth remembering the ‘ball’ is actually a small cube, resembling more a well chewed dog toy than a football. Perhaps the sponsors should bring down New Maldens most famous resident, professional ball juggler Mr Wu, and see how well he fares…

The Dons looked on top again during a sluggish start to the second period, with Phil Ruggles shot on the turn waking the crowd up as it deflected wide. It was to prove Basingstokes last serious effort on goal, as Wimbledon took control, a lack of finishing still keeping the nerves on edge until the end. A perfect example of this being Kezie Ibe, in what will certainly be his last game for the club, charging down an attempted clearance to Jon Main, whos through ball back to the pacy frontman was well overhit with the Basingstoke defense floundering.

Haydon lets the side down once again...

Haydon lets the side down once again...

Thats not to say Wimbledon didn’t look like scoring. Earlier a quickly taken Sam Hatton free kick had almost caught Kitteridge out, but the Basingstoke stopper was able to scramble it wide. Another chance fell to Hatton following an excellent ball into the box from Elliott Godfrey but he was the wrong man in the right position as his flicked header flew harmlessly over the bar.

Terry Brown took the opportunity to bring on fresh legs with Kedwell replacing a tired and out of luck Jon Main. While Main will finish the season as leading scorer in the Blue Square South by some distance, his last ten games have not shown him in a favourable light, he certainly won’t be hitting the 40 goal mark this term. He needs a couple of goals to fire him up and us to the title, bringing back confidence for the new season. Hard working Anthony Finn also made way for Dwayne Lee. I was impressed by Finn today. He gave the ball away once or twice, but never stopped working for the team, chasing down lost causes and generally looking a million times better than the player who would have allowed the game to pass him by this time last year, hands on hips, anguished look on his face.

The introduction of the experienced Lee didn’t exactly calm fans nerves either. Playing in his usual position in front of the back four, Lee has a peculiar manner of controlling a football, leaning back, almost off balance, and killing it with an outstretched foot. This also has the habit of turning a pass he seemingly has seconds to make into a 50/50 as he adjusts his centre of balance to the front foot. Naturally this doesn’t sit well with all supporters in the last five minutes of a tight game when the title is on the line.

As time ticked away and Wimbledon repeatedly fail to kill off their plucky opponents the pressure grew. The Dons last chance fell to Danny Kedwell from an angle, but he lashed his effort high into the Tempest End. And the closest Basingstoke were to come was a hopeful freekick floated wide from all of thirty-plus yards. This didn’t mean the Wimbledon faithful weren’t sweating. No matter how toothless Basingstoke looked, it is the potential that something might go wrong that worries rather than the quality of opponent. Sometimes thats all it takes for a defence to crumble.

The final whistle brings relief, and the league table looks very good right now. Soon though the anxiety will be back. Monday will bring another game, a team we have previous with, a team that won’t roll over so easily. How comfortable we are come Monday morning depends on the result of a game tomorrow. Braintree will find they have an extra few thousand supporters for a couple of hours come 3pm. If they get any kind of a result, it will be unexpected, but surely appreciated by people like myself, for whom two weeks is too long to wait for the outcome of this particular title race.

Tagged

The Basingstoke Match Preview

Apologies for the delay in this preview. This was partly caused by a busy work day, partly by jetlag, but mainly down to Tiscali, surely the worst internet provider this side of the Atlantic…

OVERVIEW

The Anonymous Don is back from holiday and ready to go once more. In my absence our lovely Wombles won 2-0 against Team Bath, which looked a bit shaky judging by the highlights on AFC Wimbledon TV. Although that could just have been the camera work… Was it windy or was the cameraman replaced by a one legged man balancing on a stool for the whole game? The quality of coverage is normally excellent, perhaps it only appeared wobbly as I normaly know what to expect, and perhaps my mind adjusts the image accordingly. Either way, its a great service, and one that I was extremely grateful for, so perhaps I should stop quibbling about details? I may start getting a John Smith Stand style reputation…

And you would have to have been on a different continent not to have caught the Chelmo-Hampton score on Monday. Which of course I was. Broken internet at my in-laws family home meant no findie outie scorie for Neiley until late Tuesday. Still, I allowed myself a quick pump of my clenched fist (ooh-err…) in celebration. No full on champagne opening of course, we will save that for promotion, be that this weekend, next weekend, May, or next season (fingers crossed, touch wood, preferring to sacrifice one of my cats to the Football Gods).

So this weekend is now set up nicely. In true Sky Sports style the top three teams fixtures are spread out over Friday and Saturday, with Eastleigh kicking off the feast hosting the Bromleyites at 12:30. A win would put pressure on the Dons large style as we take on Basingstoke at 3.00. Similarly the Dons can heap that back onto Hampton and then some as the Trumptonites strangely kept their game on Saturday, meaning most of their usual loyal supporters will be at Stamford Bridge or Griffin Park (or at home watching Soccer Saturday). Still I would imagine a fair few Dons will be there too, The Anonymous Don included. You’ll be able to find a full match report on this very blog come Sunday morning…

HOME

No injury worries for us thankfully, with the exception of Goodliffe and long term victim Taylor. Lewis is apparently fully fit and raring to go, But TBs view (shared by myself for what its worth) is that adding another cog to the midfield gearbox might cause more damage than good, both to our chances of the title and to Lewis himself. Sammy H has been good enough for 38 games so he will do for now, and Tom Davis has stepped up to the plate foll0wing Saunders arrival.

The big question is whether TB will go for three forwards as he appeared to against Team Bath. With Ibe coming to the end of his loan and heading back to Ebbsfleet (or whatever they are calling themselves this week) the temptation to rinse all we can get from him must be a huge one, especially playing three games in 72 hours. Either way, the game depends on us taking our chances, so as not to add unwanted pressure as the game progresses.

Finally, news reaches me that prolific hitman Belal Aitouakrim has joined Maidenhead on loan. After all of Maidenheads problems of late I’m just wondering what they have done to deserve this latest stroke of misfortune…

AWAY

I’m going to confess straight away I haven’t been able to do my usual meticulous research on our visitors, suffice to say the match preview in the Basingstoke Gazette seems to be heavy on previewing the Dons rather than their own side, with talk of 3,000 crowds and all that. And Their Cup Final is all ‘Stoke have to play for now, with news filtering out earlier in the day that Team Bath have decided to resign from the league effective from the end of the season. Even before this news The Dragons were sitting pretty with only a dramatic loss of form and miracle results elsewhere would have put them in any danger after they beat relegation rivals Thurrock 1-0 last weekend.

Since the Dons 1-0 victory in Hampshire, Basingstoke have slowly evolved into a solid unit, another piece of the jigsaw being added last week with the arrival of Lewis Christon. A raw Christon impressed for Wimbledon towards the end of last term, showing composure, pace and strength in equal measures. Despite his release by Wycombe, a year is a long time for a young player to improve his game, and despite being overlooked by many teams including ourselves when he became a free agent, I’m sure he will be looking to remind us of his talents come 3pm Friday. Its worth noting that players do not pick up Football League appearances for no reason, and Christon has seven to his name. He is going to be one to watch not just tomorrow, but through the reaminder of this season into next.

THE FANS

Us – Despite another 3000 plus attendance last week, achieved without visiting support, I can’t help but feel it was a little on the low side for a Dons team still serious title contenders. One reason could be the lack of Norbiton Station, closed again tomorrow, causing transport nightmares for supporters reliant on South West Trains for their AFCW fix.

However the club, as usual, have thought ahead and made sure the game took place on the Bank Holiday. And its a bit of a crappy holiday is Good Friday. Theres no other attractions to turn fans heads, most family meals and meet ups are arranged for Easter Sunday or Monday. With the religious side to the holiday now thankfully a relic of the past, there is no excuse for a huge crowd at the Meadow.

But what sort of crowd will arrive. A quiet, nervous one, allowing less supportive elements to make themselves heard? Or from the start a cauldron of noise the like of which is only seen at Kingsmeadow on almost random occasions once or twice a season. For the teams sake, we can only hope for the latter.

Them -Like most visiting teams looking forward to the occasion, to celebrating their safety and looking forward to brighter futures. Plus you get the sense that they smell blood. With the Dons desperate for a result, ‘Stoke fans know an upset is there for the taking.With forum estimates ranging from 50-200, and talk of balloons and confetti they will at least be colourful (incidentally, Kingstonian are planning a ticker tape welcome for their players should they win the Ryman South title, and some supporters are planning on bringing brooms to clear up after them! How considerate to their tenants… this would never have happened in the days of Wimbledon FC at Selhurst Park!)

BLUE SQUARE

AFC Wimbledon    4/11

Draw    16/5

Basingstoke    6/1

Well, surprise! No value again for Dons fans of course, in fact it will be a mild surprise to most when we eventually reach the Conference National (be it this year or whenever – you know the drill) and find ourselves outsiders for a home game. The 13/5 the sponsors are offering on Handicap for a draw (ie a single goal victory for the Dons) looks good for what could be a tight game. Those who do not share my sensible/boring prediction will be looking at the 8-0 at 150/1 in anticipation at coining it in once more from a company who once again are giving reserved pricing more for profits sake than any great confidence in the Dons. 

THE ANONYMOUS OPINION

Its going to be tight, tough and nervy. We should have most of the game but if Basingstoke are patient theres always a chance they could hit us with a sucker punch unless we take our chances, and take them early, if only for the sake of everyones blood pressure.

Tagged

The Final Seven (The Run-In Previewed…)

Last summer, following the euphoria surrounding our dramatic playoff victory at Staines, opinion seemed to be pretty universal on how competitive we were expected to be this term. The word ‘consolidation’ was being bandied around more often than a lunchtime advert on Living TV. And consolidate we did, ensuring our league survival by Christmas. By then we had allowed our heads to be turned by a much bigger prize.

Promotion to the Conference National is so close I now can’t see us not playing there next season. Failure now could be our most painful experience as football fans. While the odds seem overwhelming, I always seem drawn to Hugh Everitt IIIsMany-worlds theory, which as a master wordsmith I could obviously explain to you simply myself, yet why should I bother when someone has already written on on Wikipedia for the layman. And as I am wearing the Wikipedia t-shirt I got for Xmas, I may as well just cut and paste that for you. It is defined as “there is a very large, perhaps infinite, number of universes and that everything that could possibly happen, or could possibly have happened, in our universe (but doesn’t) does happen in some other universe(s).”

Considering this, you can perhaps see why my bedroom ceiling has been examined at great detail as I lie awake at night pondering the implications. From the position we are in now, we should win the league in the majority of outcomes (assuming that Welling winning 13-4 or something ridiculous on Saturday is an outcome that could not possibly happen). I’ve always thought there was something a little funny about the world we exist in. For all we know we could be about to witness something unlikely. Something weird, like Chelmsford managing to clinch the title after appearing to throw it all away in February. If the unlikely happens, we will be picking up the pieces well into next season. Perhaps. Maybe I should stop being such a doom monger and just preview the games?

WELLING (HOME) 21st MARCH

The slayers of Trumpton head to The Meadow on Saturday looking for another scalp to reinvigorate their playoff hopes. I’ll be giving a comprehensive preview on Friday (just like last weeks comprehensive ‘effort’, haha!), but for now I predict a similar game to Hayes or Worcester. Tight, and 2-0

EASTLEIGH (AWAY) 28th MARCH

They’ve come a long way since their early season blips in August, getting tonked in consecutive away games at Bromley (1-5!) and St Albans (0-5!!!), and had really turned things around by the time they became the first and to date only team to win at TCRRFS in the league this season. Despite their easy looking run in they will probably fall well short of the title. May clinch second with a good run, but at the moment can relax slightly as they are pretty much nailed on to feature in the playoffs. A draw will be a fantastic result for both teams, so Ill go for 1-1, but expect Our Dons to be hanging on come the final whistle as Eastleigh press in an effort for the extra points from a win that will make them the only team to do the double over us this season.

TEAM BATH (HOME) 4th APRIL

Team Tax have been inconsistent recently, and appalling in their last few fixtures including crashing 0-3 at revival team Bognor. With results like that they could be effectively be playing out the season as their hopes at the moment are as small as their fanbase (whatever happened to the five thousand screaming knob-heads that turned up to that FA Cup game a few years ago? They should give every student a free season ticket, as not only would they get some kind of atmosphere but if they work out their attendance like we do they could get some cracking ‘crowds’ down there). TTwere something of an unknown quantity this season, and after shocking everyone withtheir start, slipped down the table as winter kicked in. While possessing some obviously talented players, you have to question whether Tax will ever have the strengthin depth to challenge for promotion from this league, and perhaps they have found their level. Yet one thing we have found out during our six year AFC adventure is there is nothing a player that normally plays in front of 200 likes better than having a good game against a club that pulls in 3000 every week. For that reason we must fear Tax turn up on a bad day for us and turn us over, as they have the potential to do so. However I have been impressed by the professionalism and battling qualities of our Dons this year, even during our recent poor form. This is the earliest we can win the league, and as I’ll be across the pond that day I suggest the likelihood of us winning it after this one as quite high, unless a few other Dons have booked holidays across the playoffs, in which case we won’t win it at all. My prediction… 1-0.

BASINGSTOKE TOWN (HOME) 10th APRIL

How long ago does it seem since our August trip down the mainline to the Town of Many Malls? Our fourth game and our fourth win was easier than the 1-0 scoreline suggested, it wasn’t hard then to see ‘Stokes season was going to be a struggle. Relegation seems to have been staved off by a run of decent results, leaving them clear and the survival hopes of the bottom three seem to have less life in them than Natasha Richardson at the moment. Either way a home game against a team at the bottom should never be a problem for a team gunning for the title, and I’m going for a 3-0 Dons win.

BROMLEY (AWAY) 13th APRIL

Ah! Our old friends Bromley! You remember them, from Ryman One, and that playoff semi-final two years ago? Whatever happened to them? They rolled up at TCRRFS on Bank Holiday Monday back in August as genuine rivals, boasting the likes of Nic McDonnell and Danny ‘You can’t afford me!’ Hockton. The large posteriored hit man Hocktonfound himself back at The Meadow on the end of a thumping with Braintree, with Hocktonmore interested on telling the John SmithStand what he’s been spending his extra £50 a week on. And with McDonnell taking a break from football its been down to ex-Sutton striker Warren McBean to bang the goals in, currently well behind in second place in the scoring charts to our own Jon Main. Inconsistency has been Bromleys problem this year, just not showing enough form for a play-off push, however they are going to pull out all the stops for the visit of their larger and more illustrious near neighbours (that’s us by the way). As its such an awkward place to go I’m sure of a high scoring draw, 2-2.

TRUMPTON NOT RICHMOND (AWAY) 18th APRIL

It could be all over by now, but if there’s anything left to play for Trumpton are going to give it their agricultural best when the Big Boys make the long three mile journey from the Metropolis to the village, almost doubling the population in the space of a few hours. Trumptons super-skinny squad should be absolutely knackered by this time, and I think it won’t be the close encounter many are suggesting. If the titles still on for them and they decide to play a more open game Trumptoncould seriously get stuffed if Wimbledon are in the mood. I’m going for 3-0 and the title if the villagers are still in contention, with a 1-0 Dons win should we have won it already.

ST ALBANS CITY (HOME) 25th APRIL

Its very likely that we will know our destiny by now, and our final game of the season could be a farewell to the Blue Square South, hopefully forever. If we need any kind of result the complexion changes and it becomes brown trousers time. Imagine if we need a draw to be certain and it was still 0-0 with ten minutes to go? It’ll be the longest ten minutes of our lives. Comfortable in mid table, the Stalebunscan play withno pressure, and could cause problems up against a nervy defence. If the league has been won by now it’ll be even worse, an end of season game played at zero pace, with the crowd tiring towards the end spending their time waiting for the trophy to be presented and the players running around in Blue Square We Are Going Up t-shirts. I won’t make any predictions on this one except whatever happens, we can guarantee the crowd is going to be over 4000. Then have to worry about crowds like that being the norm rather than exceptions for our first season back in a national league.

Tagged , , , , , ,