Tag Archives: Crawley Town

Creepy Crawley And The Nature Of Rivalry

One of the side effects of writing a blog that’s read by slightly more people than my wife and mum (my dad reads too…) is that every so often someone gets in touch and asks for a contribution to their own site. Often the questions asked come from a different angle and make me consider the club in a manner I wouldn’t normally, and one of those came last month in a piece I did for a website called Best of the Bets.

The question referred to our return to the Football League, and whether we’d be looking forward to renewing any old rivalries. Of course, no one really leapt out as a rival on promotion to League Two, I wrote a few lines about looking forward to finally facing Aldershot, some short-term excitement at reprising a couple of Premier League fixtures at Bradford and Swindon, two new London derbies (albeit ones that don’t exactly get the heart pumping).

Yet no one that really makes you sit up and relish facing off against hated local scum. Maybe one day that void will be filled by Aldershot once we’ve got a few years of mutual back slapping out of the way they’ll tire of being reminded certain clubs only took nine years to navigate their way through the non-league pyramid. Perhaps a club currently higher in the pecking order will drop down (or we’ll move up?) and fill that void… a Brentford, maybe even a Millwall (and I’m convinced when Fulham’s bubble eventually bursts they’ll end up making Bradford look a financial success story…).

The problem being that our rise, fall, and second coming has seen us never end up in the same division long enough to develop significant rivalries with clubs of equivalent size… Which has led to a series of almost manufactured rivalries developed almost to fill a void. The first was the almost comical Merton derbies with Raynes Park Vale, laughable in that as far as I can make Dons fans seem to make up the majority of Vale’s home crowds anyway.

Moving up the divisions, we missed out on a few local clubs such as Kingstonian and Sutton, long memories saw us briefly face off against historical rivals, the likes of Dulwich and Tooting, but mostly the keenest of contests came against those sides who somehow found an extra few hundred thousand pounds down the back of the sofa (or by not paying their tax bill for a few years), or welcomed in a rich benefactor for a few years until they eventually got bored and wandered off. Yet while the likes of Withdean and Bromley have now been left long behind, we do still have one thorn left sticking in our sides after scrabbling out of the non-league game, the team that came up with us last year…

Its unlikely Dons fans would be giving Crawley a second thought right now if it hadn’t been for a combination of two factors… their convicted criminal manager, and one of the few people in a game that tends to close its eyes and pull the blanket over its head when faced with potential scandal who has actually managed to have been conclusively proved to be a cheat. Then of course are the huge piles of cash that allowed themselves to buy their way into the League to begin with.

That Crawley are disliked by Dons fans is no great surprise… they didn’t exactly romp to victory in the popularity stakes last year in the Conference, and their presence in League Two has already ensured they aren’t exactly being welcomed with open arms up and down the country – hell, they even managed to turn Manchester United into popular favourites for a game last year…

The Dons selling out our allocation for Saturdays game probably isn’t too much of a surprise, what with the size of Kingsmeadow meaning pretty much every game has been a full house so far, what did surprise me was Crawley selling out their section, meaning they’ll actually have more in the ground than they did at their own stadium for an evening game against Wrexham a couple of years ago.

It seems this game has been elevated to rivalry status by the sheer number of times the two sides have faced off over the past couple of years, this being the eighth meeting in that time, and its no surprise the two sets of supporters are getting sick of each other… I’m not exactly salivating at the prospect of Saturdays game, it’s one to get out of the way more than anything, yet victory will be celebrated by all of us in the same manner last seasons comeback win was (Kedwell free this time).

And as for defeat… well it’s not exactly going to be like last week where the result was pretty much forgotten about five minutes after final whistle – it has the potential to be an evening-wrecker, much as losing to Hampton or Bromley was. You see, knowing we’ll probably have left Crawley spluttering in our dusty trail in two or three years time counts for nothing right now, especially if a large group of noisy visitors are left celebrating in the corner as we file away into the evening.

Lets face it, Crawley have done nothing wrong in spunking vast amounts of dubiously acquired cash at quick-fire promotions, they haven’t broken any wage caps, they are paying their bills up front, and as long as the Fat Eyelinered one hasn’t been up to his old manila envelope tricks they deserve to be where they are on merit (unlike certain other new towns we could mention). And yet the nation still seems to be captivated with the side that went up with them via the playoffs… Crawley were almost the forgotten champions.

Football fans love a good news story, and the Dons progress with Brown assembling a young talented side within budget, playing good football, will ensure Crawley remain in our shadow for a while yet. And that must really stick in their throats, you’ll hear it in the songs they sing, the desperation… they know what’s coming in the years to follow and are looking for cheap victories while they can, like Withdean, like Bromley, like Hampton… hate us now, so you’ll remember us when we’re gone…

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Crawley Town 3 AFC Wimbledon 2 29/7/11 – A Match Report

So the Dons find themselves in the rare position of being eliminated from a Cup competition before the season has even begun, before its even August… I suppose we were more than half expecting the result, in my preview I mentioned I would be happy with a battling performance in defeat, and I was more than impressed with the Dons last night.

Yet I was expecting us to be a bit stronger defensively, and still finding our feet going forward… if anything the reverse looked true. While brave and determined at the back individually, we seemed to lack organisation… less a defensive line than a defensive squiggle. This was probably the consequence of a lack of preparation caused by our truncated preseason, I’m prepared to accept we will improve defensively.

What was a bonus was how dangerous we looked going forward, especially on the break. We came up against a team who will be challenging for promotion, the bookmakers preseason favourites for the title, and at times we caused them all sorts of problems. Yes, this was one performance, and we will have to put in the same high work rate we did last night in each and every one of the forty-six league fixtures ahead of us. But if we do, and we put right some of the defensive problems we saw last night, we might find the Dons will exceed the expectations of all but the wildest of optimists among us.

But, for those of you who weren’t there, what of the game? Well it had everything you would ask of a cup tie… goals, a sending off, a comedy villain… It was nice to see a huge contingent of Dons fans, presumably starved of competitive football despite the short summer break, making up around a third of the total attendance and making a lot of noise. It’s fair to say the Dons were particularly shaky to begin with, although both sides looked seriously rusty… passes were going astray left, right and centre; shots found the car park…

Dons fans, half an hour before kick off

The Dons took the lead out of nothing, and I literally mean out of nothing. When Luke Moore received the ball just inside the Crawley half, the hope was this could kickstart a Wimbledon move, but there didn’t seem to be any immediate danger. However, after beating a couple of men and heading diagonally across the Crawley half, a shooting opportunity opened and Moore made no mistake with a fierce drive across Kuipers into the bottom left corner.

As far as season opening goals go, they don’t come much better than this, and I can’t remember a better one. Someone is going to have to do something outrageous to top that this season… I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll go into more detail more when I get to my squad preview of the strikers, but if really feel Luke Moore could take a step up this season, he really could turn out to be an important player for us next term if he keeps clear of injury and gets the sort of run in the side he had at the end of our last campaign.

Toks went close to giving us a 2-0 lead shortly after, although being situated at the opposite end of the ground I won’t know how good a chance it was until (if?) I see the video. Crawley were doing a good job of stopping the Dons playing football from the back, Sam Hatton in particular suffering, a red shirt closing him down almost as soon as he received the ball, although to be fair he could have been a bit quicker releasing on a couple of occasions. The problem for Sam, and the back four in general, is there is no secret that we like to play out from the back, so every manager in the division will assign someone to chase the Dons down, our first few games could be a tricky transition phase for a few of our younger players.

You knew the hosts would come again, and come again strong, and it took some serious defending to keep them out, to the point I started to feel if Wimbledon could hold the lead going into half time we might stand a chance. The problem was, due to a combination of commitment to playing football and sheer desperate defending, Wimbledon kept handing the ball back to Crawley still deep within our own half. Eventually an error would come, and when it did it proved very costly. A cross form the left evaded a clutch of players and fell to Hope Akdan, all alone at the far post, who dug the ball out from under his feet and gave Seb Brown no chance.

In fact Crawley should have had the lead before the break, only a bit of miraculous defending (and to be honest, some not exactly positive forward play from Crawley)keeping the ball out of the Dons goal. Half time came with the scores level, Dons fans a little frustrated the game had swung against us during the last ten minutes of the half.

The Dons line up for another season

It took less than thirty seconds for the Dons to regain the lead, much to the surprise of those returning from epic queues for toilets and snacks. While we are on the subject of the snack bar – and this is an unusual criticism not normally levelled at football clubs – but Crawley sell bottles of drink in 600ml bottles, then confiscate the cap, meaning you have no option but to down over a pint of cold fizzy drink, in confined quarters… But back to the goal. It was all down to Christian Jolley, closing down Crawley defender McFadzean, forcing him into a slip, then nipping in to pick up the pieces and lay the ball perfectly for Midson to tap home from close range.

My first thought was how long we could hold the lead this time, and the answer was… not very long. Crawleys equalise five minutes later came in slightly similar circumstances to their first, this time Torres left all alone beyond the far post, slotting across Seb Brown into the right corner. The hosts really stepped up the pressure from that point on, and it was no surprise they finally sneaked ahead just after the hour mark.

Although he scores so many goals, Matt Tubbs is a danger to anyone thanks to the nine other guys in red shirts supplying him the ball in the box. When several other guys in blue shirts give him the space to do as he wish, there’s only going to be one outcome. I thought we stood a chance of at least forcing extra time as long as we didn’t go behind, but if anything the Dons had their best spell of the game during the final quarter-hour.

Neither Dons fullback had really crossed the half way line, but that all changed when Gareth Gwillim made way for Chris Bush, who immediately played a big attacking role. Christian Jolley was also sacrificed for Charlie Ademeno, who had been promised a poor reception from his old club… there were a few boos but it was all pretty muted, you got the impression the vast majority of home fans didn’t have a clue who he was.

One person obviously not happy with Ademeno’s arrival was the referee, who immediately resolved to blow his whistle whenever the ball went anywhere near him. We had some shocking referees in the Conference and below, some ridiculously weighted decisions in favour of either ourselves (if we were lucky) or our opponents… it seems Football League referees consider they have had a good game not if they get the majority of decisions correct, but if both sides are equally unhappy with their performance. Ademeno’s crime was, not being the biggest guy on the planet, he needs to get his body between the ball and man, and was therefore consistently penalised for ‘backing in’, an offense only called when a smaller guy outmuscles a bigger guy…

To be fair, Crawley were equally miffed, it seemed, although after a couple of early dramatic falls in the penalty area the referee had obviously decided to avoid all incidents in the penalty area. These were accompanied by more and more exaggerated shocked actions from Steve Evans on the side of the pitch… at one stage I really thought he was going to throw himself to the ground and start kicking his legs about like a toddler. All of this just drew the attention of Dons fans, who by the end of the game had a repertoire of half a dozen or so chants and songs to aim at him… including one previously only reserved for Charles Koppell.

You get the impression League Two fans are going to have fun coming to Crawley, even though the majority of them are going to lose there you always find yourself leaving with that sense of superiority. Evans (and from speaking to a couple of Crawley fans, who seemed normal enough, it seems the majority of them actually believe most of what he says, which reduces the sympathy you may feel for them subjected to his management), the guy with the bell (!), images in the programme of kids at the training ground wearing Chelsea shirts, with no sign of any Crawley merchandise… it all gives the impression you’re at the sort of place that might melt if left out in the hot sun. There truly is no substance here, maybe there never will be… when times go bad just how many of them will still bother turning up? Its less than two years since they had a crowd of less than 700 for Wrexham. I see whats happened to Rushden this summer and can’t help but see parallels…

It might sound snobbish, but we really aren’t like them… we might have a few regulars who actually support other clubs, maybe because the circumstances surrounding our ownership, maybe because we are cheap and convenient and play some decent football, and very welcome they are too – but either way if football ever gets its house in order and these people can go back and support their own clubs on a regular basis, we’re going to lose what? 100, 150 off our average? A small minority, as opposed to the vast overnight fanbase that will abandon Crawley, which is why I don’t think any of us of us are that bothered about Crawley’s sudden wealth driven rise.

I mentioned comedy villains earlier, and it was Kuipers, a goalkeeper who could well prove to be Crawley’s Achilles heel, who provoked the ire of Dons fans. Although not the referee confusingly, as Ademeno chased down a long ball, the Crawley goalkeeper seemed to delay his clearance in order to catch the Dons frontman. Ademeno wasn’t hurt, he got up pretty much straight away, and if Kuipers intention was to draw the freekick it worked, and somehow managed to earn Ademeno a yellow card as well. The Dons fans were close enough to the referee to notice the look of impatience that ran over his face, as he realised he might just have made a mistake. To be fair, he did make a point of adding on every minute the Crawley keeper spent on the floor,as eventually the goalkeeper made a miraculous recovery.

As for the sending off, well it came shortly after, as holding on became the name of the game for the home team. It was one of those brain-dead moments you see sometimes from so-called professionals, Akpan already being on a yellow when he decided to blast the ball into orbit after the Dons were awarded a freekick. It could have been costly had the Dons forced extra time, but to be honest they had already spurned their two best opportunities, Ademeno getting the ball caught under his feet six yards out scrambled clear by the hosts, and a Chris Bush volleyed cross that hit Toks in front of goal and could have gone anywhere… but went wide.

That extra long period of stoppages was supplemented by an additional two minutes when Evans decided to make his three substitutions separately after ninety minutes were up, but the Dons were getting desperate by then, and I think every Dons fan knew when Seb Brown rushed to take a free kick by his own corner flag it was going to end up in the stand.

So no Carling Cup run for the Dons this season, but no huge loss. Judging by that performance you wonder just what the Dons would be capable of if Brown can get one of the experienced strikers he is chasing… although all three starters and Ademeno impressed me, you can’t beat a bit of experience, as well as depth. We should find out who that will be early next week, as we start to build up to Bristol Rovers, and on last nights performance there is no reason why we shouldn’t at very least add another year to our long opening day unbeaten record.

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Crawley Town v AFC Wimbledon – A Match Preview

Football is back. In July. On a Friday night. Has the world gone mad? It feels like we should be preparing ourselves for a home friendly against a Premier League clubs youth team or something, instead we head off to Crawley for proper action…

Firstly, lets not kid ourselves this is the first game of our season. It isn’t. Our first game is next week, at home to Bristol Rovers. This is a cup game that we just happen to be playing in the summer. Important it may be, and its nice to watch a meaningful game of football, but I think both sides are aware the real action kicks off next week. Maybe the occasion would have felt bigger had we not found ourselves playing each other… seven meetings within the space of twenty-two months, and our fourth trip to Broadfield, the novelty factor wore off pretty quickly…

I remember our first trip for the FA Cup tie, a short journey, plenty of Dons fans, a decent pub across from the ground… I remember thinking regular trips to Broadfield wouldn’t be so bad… Fast forward a couple of years, and we find ourselves repulsed at having to visit the Crawley we know and don’t love, all concrete and dog shit and overgrown grass verges.

The fact we never win there probably doesn’t help… Terry Brown probably summed our expectations for the game up best during his interview after the Watford friendly, telling Dons fans his side would be looking to cause a shock on Friday night. Despite finishing one place below Crawley last year, victory at Broadfield would be a more than impressive start…

Crawley have done nothing but strengthen over the summer, and lets face it, a weaker Wimbledon side than finished the season will be travelling down to Sussex. Thats probably an unfair way of putting it, perhaps rebuilding would be a better term… but it’s true. We might have stood a chance of staying with Crawley for six months of last season, what with all our games in hand, but this time around they are favourites for League Two for a reason, that being piles and piles of cash.

Money the Dons can’t possibly compete with over forty-six games, but Friday night is a cup tie, ninety minutes (plus potential extra time and penalties…), we might not be exactly where TB wants us at the moment but our squad are no mugs. You don’t expect either side to be at 100% at this time of year, and magnificent victory or crushing defeat could depend on variations in either sides preseason.

Which might worry a few of you. I think everyone accepts this preseason hasn’t entirely gone to plan, and certainly hasn’t been long enough, and I wonder whether TB considers they have fitted enough in to the time they did have together. He certainly wouldn’t say as much in the press, so this is pure conjecture, but if Crawley are well ahead of us in terms of fitness we could have real problems tomorrow night. They already have a huge advantage in terms of depth and experience… if they are even a few days ahead of us in terms of fitness, this tie could turn out to be a bit of a drubbing.

So far in this preview I’ve talked myself out of believing we have any chance of facing Palace next month, where are the positives? Taking fifteen players from last season points to our main strength… continuity. This is still the same young squad that dragged us out of the Conference last season, who will go out and play their football without fear. Our back four and midfield are just as strong as they were last season, and while we might not have that twenty goal a season striker just yet, we have forwards who possess the ability to unlock most defences.

With no form to go on beyond largely meaningless preseason results, our first competitive game will always be tough to call – whatever happens in twenty-four hours time will dictate our mood going into the Bristol Rovers game, but defeat won’t necessarily be the end of the world… a decent performance in a battling defeat will suit me. And if I find myself heading back up the M23 dreaming of Selhurst Park, well that would be a nice little bonus…

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The League Two Files – Crawley Town

The temptation in writing this is to just republish the ‘Conference File’ I wrote about Crawley two years ago, but to be honest the club have changed so much in the last two years I’m almost tempted to start again completely from scratch. Last time I wrote this article all talk was of ongoing financial problems of a club with a track record of receiving point deductions, this time round their situation has completely reversed.

If anything, the club now have too much money, at least as far as keeping within the 55% wage expediture to turnover cap. As you would imagine among clubs still unable to forget Steve Evans antics with Boston, Crawley’s new found financial might wasn’t exactly popular news. They achieved the rare feat of ensuring Manchester United went into a cup tie as popular peoples favourites, eased to the title with plenty to spare, and now head into League Two as hot favourites to claim back to back titles…

Of course, the fun for Crawley will begin when their financial assistance dries up, whenever that may be, will growth off the field be sufficient to prevent the club slipping into financial meltdown and back down the pyramid? You get the impression that next season will be as important off the field as progression on it…

HISTORY

Crawley Town were formed way back in the nineteenth century, and like many clubs they pottered about in county football remaining amateur until the professional revolution that took place in the sixties saw them start paying their players and joining the Southern League back in 1962, the year a still amateur Wimbledon side were beginning a campaign that resulted in our only FA Amateur Cup triumph.

After a brief sojourn into the Premier Division in the late sixties, which lasted all of a year, Crawley remained at the lower level until they were promoted again in 1984. This time they stayed there, right up until Francis Vines guided them to promotion in 2004 (I remember Vines as a prolific goalscorer at Kingstonian during his playing days). No one can claim Crawley’s progress was spectacular, but it was at least steady to the point they slowly progressed to the Conference, mirroring the growth of Crawley as a town. Population in the 1961 census stood at approximately 25,000, growing to just shy of 100,000 at the 2001 census, meaning Crawley is a large enough town to support league football, providing the residents continue to turn out in numbers.

LAST SEASON

For all the criticism you can throw at Crawley and Steve Evans (and there is plenty), you cannot deny they spent their money very well. The rumoured large fee paid out for Richard Brodie would have been a huge blow at any other club in the division if it failed to work out, but Crawley had the power to splash out on Matt Tubbs as well, who was able to take the goal burden. As well as this, with the scarcity of goalscorers in the division, Crawley’s stockpiling of forwards had the added benefit of ensuring even if they were sat in the stands, it would be preferable to them going out and scoring for rival clubs (this was why it was so vital for the Dons to hold onto Kedwell, and why doing so provoked such joyous celebrations… how different would our season have turned had he been sold and stuck on the bench at Crawley?).

The truth is, they repeated the trick in just about every position on the field, ensuring by the time their long cup run ended it was just a matter of moping up the required points in the run in. Fortunately it had an effect on the Dons season, by pacing us to March the Dons racked up enough points to ensure an all important second place finish, which set up the playoff campaign that followed…

THE GROUND

Broadfield features a large, slightly raised, main stand that seems to dominate the ground, and two fairly spacious end terraces which hold 1600 (one of which is given over to away supporters), Coupled with a small terrace on the remaining side is stands as a better than decent non- league ground.

However, with promotion and ambitions beyond simply standing still, the club are planning on adding a new stand to the current open terrace on the east side of the ground. This is planned to be a prefabricated structure that will literally drop onto the existing terrace, ensuring construction time should only last six days. The club currently plans to have this structure open around Christmas, ensuring there should be plenty of room for Dons fans come our second visit on 14th April.

ADMISSION

Entry for Friday nights League Cup preliminary round, with Dons prices in brackets for reference. Dons fans will be located in the North Terrace, and a small section of seats in the West Stand.

Terrace – Adults £16 (£15), Concessions (Over 65s only for Crawley) £13 (£9), U16s (U19s for Crawley) £7 (£2)

Seats – Adults £19 (£19/£17), Concessions (Over 65s only for Crawley) £15 (£11/£10), U16s (U19s for Crawley) £10 (£7/£6)

PREVIOUS

AFCW Era – The Dons and Crawley have now met six times over the past two seasons, Crawley edging it by two wins to one with one draw in the league, with Wimbledon winning the FA Cup tie two seasons back 3-1 after a replay at Kingsmeadow.

All Time

LINKS

Official Website

CTFC.net

Football Ground Guide

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Not The Draw We Were Expecting…

I’m not really sure how to start this one. On one hand I knew a Championship side in Europe would mess with the League Cup draw, but I thought it would mean the much talked of dream First Round draw at West Ham would be scuppered by them being given a bye to the Second Round. Yes, I was aware Boston had played a Preliminary tie back in 2002, but I thought at the time there was no way even the Football League could be stupid enough to allow it to happen again…

I was actually expecting our first pre-season game to be announced (as per the club twitter feed) at about 4pm, so the news we are heading back to Crawley came as a bit of a surprise… I suppose we should be thankful Fulham managed to hold off Blackpool for the Fair Play place in the Europa League, we can only imagine the chaos two Championship clubs in Europe would have caused.

As it is, the July 29th date (a Friday night, and it still hasn’t been explained why the game couldn’t take place on the Saturday) means the gap between Eastlands and Broadfield is just sixty-nine days, surely the shortest close season in Dons history, Intertoto Cup notwithstanding? Plus three weeks and six days between first scheduled preseason game and our first competitive fixture, will Brown treat the Crawley clash as a competitive warm up or go at it all guns blazing? I’d prefer the latter, but how much of a shit I’d actually give depends on exactly who the winner will play, which will be determined by the first round draw on Thursday… a trip to Palace or West Ham would really get the blood pumping… Its going to need to be a big reward, as this will be our seventh meeting with Crawley within two years, and even the prospect of our first game back supporting a Football League club can’t mask the disappointment.

Elswhere, a new WHAK was released revealing all the other goings on at the League and Conference AGMs, I was waiting to hear if any juicy gossip emerged before writing my farewell to the BSP (indeed, non-league football in general..), and having now read it I’m beginning to wonder why I bothered waiting. Still, no rush, I have forty-six days at least…

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AFC Wimbledon 2 Crawley Town 1

The two likely outcomes to a much anticipated Dons game;

(i) The Dons huff and puff, have an arguably better opening period but eventually succumb to self inflicted pressure.

(ii) Dons win. It’s the greatest night ever.

We don’t get that many (ii)’s. For much of the second half it looked as though we were heading down a well worn path. Much the better side in the first period, they lost concentration just before half time and found it difficult to regain momentum at the start of the second. Our young side were being asked to dig in, and didn’t look as though they would respond.

To be honest though, I was amazed we got a football match to start with. I turned up, got my free WUP and brown paper bag and prepared myself for an evening of Evans-bashing. I had worried earlier in the day that our fun and games might be ruined by twenty two idiots kicking a ball around and getting in the way. In fact, by the time the teams got onto the pitch the Crawley fraudster was all but forgotten, able to sneak across the field almost unnoticed. And for those who did spot him, well, maybe those brown paper bags didn’t stand out as well as we thought under floodlights…

The larger than normal crowd were supplemented by the expected Crawley contingent of rent-a-fans… it was just like hosting Bromley, without the ‘HIV Wimbledon’ chants, but with plenty of reminders as to who was top of the league (something that came back to haunt them later in the evening…). This type of moneyed trash has followed us up the leagues in various forms, no one incarnation standing the test of time. When the money runs out we will eventually leave them behind, we know it’s going to happen – whether it’s in ten years, two years or tomorrow, the Crawley bubble will burst. When we leave the Non-League scene will we leave clubs like this behind for good, teams elevated above their natural status by large short term cash injections? Either way, it’s never nice to lose to this type of outfit, as we found out in our first season when we lost 0-2 at home to Withdean 2000 (who eventually bypassed their self imposed expiry date a lot sooner than we imagined…).

When the chances fell in the first half, they fell to Ed Harris. Beyond these misses, and a mistake for the Crawley goal, Harris and Franks were immense at the back. Truly beyond what you would expect for a second choice central pairing in this division (especially one so young), although if Johnson and Yakubu aren’t careful they may not be second choice for too much longer after performances like this. To be fair, I missed the Harris mistake because the stanchion in the Kingston Road End goal got in the way…

By the way, the atmosphere in the stadium seemed pretty impressive, although I couldn’t really tell as the noise in the KRE was pretty good in itself… I mean I purposely chose to stand in the noisier part of the terrace so I could join in (I so rarely sing at home these days, but felt it was my duty…), maybe our noise drowned out a louder general atmosphere in a stadium where noise is difficult to generate… the Tempest in full voice normally sounds quite distant from our end, but it must have been an amazing game to play in when all four sides of the ground (well, three and a half…) joined in, something that happened a couple of times on the night – which is normally as rare as finding a four leaf clover. On the moon.

As the second half wore on, hopes of an equalizer began to diminish. Hatton and Jackson were still tearing Crawley apart on the right side when given the opportunity, but it looked as if sheer Crawley stubbornness would see them through. You began to wonder if Crawley might have nicked a second to take the game beyond the Dons. Tubbs had a chance blocked by the legs of Brown, yet although neither Crawley front man really impressed, the threat was still there.

Until fifteen minutes to go. The Dons had created a bit of pressure, and won a corner on the right. Toks whipped in the sort of ball we have sorely missed since the departure of Chris Hussey, a slip in the penalty are gave Sam Hatton a free header, and as you would expect from someone so consistent this season he made no mistake, burying his header into the slick turf and watching is skid up into the roof of the net. Bedlam inside Kingsmeadow, and finally Dons fans saw the tide had turned. There would only be one team that would win this one.

Crawley barely had time to catch breathe before it came. Less than three minutes had passed, a deep cross from Sammy Moore saw Kedwell lurking. With a Crawley man in front and another behind he looked second best to get anything on the ball. To actually guide the ball beyond Jordan in the Crawley goal looks an unlikely finish even watching it back on Youtube… in the flesh it was an almost superhuman piece of finishing. If the celebrations following the equaliser were impressive, these were a return to old fashioned just going mental. Like the good old days, grabbing the person next to you, whether you knew them or not, and ending up ten yards away when it all calmed down a few minutes later. Celebrations like that will probably land you a common assault charge in the street, on the terraces jubilation took hold…

One last big roar, as the final whistle blew. Evans skulked off, apparently storming out of the press conference when someone had the temerity to question his side – although, like his team, you can only presume he had no answers to it. Terry Brown stalked the pitch, beaming smile, showing how much it meant to him personally. The man of the moment, Kedwell, found a yellow shirt bearing his image in the penalty area, put it on, milked the applause, and was the last Dons player to leave the field. If anyone deserves the praise it was him.

We won’t win the League by winning games like these. It helps, and of course it falls under that mathematical conundrum of being a six pointer – Crawley lose the points, we gain them. The league will be won by winning games we should draw, and drawing games we should lose, in bread and butter fixtures like Sundays game at Kidderminster. Terry Brown said a couple of years ago (when referring to the BSS) that if you have twenty points on the board after ten games it’s a great springboard for promotion. Wimbledon currently have twenty-two…

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AFC Wimbledon 3 Crawley Town 1 – A Match Report

Are you in the mood for a laugh? Check out Steve Evans comments below (taken from the Surrey Comet match report).

evans

If you want an even bigger laugh, then I suggest you take a quick look at this webpage… http://crawleytownfc.com/newsdetails.php?ID=1320

But if you want the last laugh, this is taken from the front page from the O/S…

millwall

Well I have to say after all that, I’m glad I’m not part of the mainstream media, if I was I’d probably still be in hospital having my sides stitched. Either Evans was on the biggest wind-up ever, or he really is that bad a loser! My money is very firmly on the latter. But I can hear one of you piping up at the back… ‘Why are Evans comments so comical, Anonymous Don?’… ‘Why did Crawley Town feel the need, at their managers suggestion, to put up pictures of what looks like Callum Willock backing into Jamie Pullen?’… Well rest assured, both those answers and more feature in the famous AD match report, which follows after this series of dots!……….

The game started in similar manner to the first game at Broadfield Stadium, in that Crawley started fast and Wimbledon didn’t start at all. Less that two minutes were on the clock before a left-wing cross caused the Dons defence a few problems, Brett Johnson’s header clearance only bounced up invitingly for Jefferson Louis. Fortunately the big hitman got it all wrong, hitting his volley into the ground then seeing it bounce wide of the left post.

At least it didn’t take the home side forty-three minutes to get an effort on goal, in fact Saturdays goalscoring hero Sam Hatton lined up a free kick from all of thirty yards that the Dons midfielder/fullback drilled low but straight at Rayner, the ball skipping up kindly off the turf and into the keepers grateful arms. However Crawley still looked the side most likely, and the nervousness in the stands was in danger of spilling onto the pitch to further hinder the home side.

Around the quarter hour the Dons launched a couple of attacking moves that broke down, but the visitors couldn’t clear beyond their half. Eventually Derek Duncan picked up the ball and threaded a lovely pass through to Jon Main, the hitman breaking clear of the back four down the left channel before striking beautifully past Rayner with his left foot, the ball entering the net via the base of the right post.

The visitors came back, and then some. Five minutes later a Crawley attack seemed to have been thwarted after Johnson’s excellent challenge, only for Sam Hatton to flick a clearance only as far as Louis. The Crawley hitman hit a superb effort that made Pullen work to the point he was unable to gather the ball, instead parrying into no-mans land. Danny Forrest was clear favourite to beat two onrushing Dons men to the ball ten yards out, but panicked and could only stab his effort wide of the right hand post.

The visitors eventually managed to equalise thanks to a questionable call as Louis raced after a ball knocked forward. He appeared to have started his run slightly ahead of the last man, but it all happened so quickly it was tough to tell. Louis had such a head start on any Wimbledon player he had time to slow down and pick his spot, sending Jamie Pullen the wrong way by rolling the ball in the bottom let hand corner.

As I said, I didn’t really see enough of where Louis was in relation to the last man in a blue shirt when the ball was played, but the Dons bench including the normally calm Terry Brown were furious the officials allowed the game to continue. Brown was to effectively win the cup tie for Wimbledon thanks to his decision-making later in the game, but I can’t be sure even he saw it properly. As a fan you want to see the benefit of any doubt go to the attacking side, and as Dons fans we will see those sort of calls go our way more often than not, but at this particular moment it was tought to take.

The Dons fought back. Ricky Wellard slammed a shot wide of the left post from the edge of the box after good work by Kedwell, but Crawley immediately went up the other end and almost scored. A hopeful punt into the Dons box was beautifully lobbed over Pullen by Ben Smith, volleying the dropping ball sidefooted just wide of the left post.

Then just before half time Danny Kedwell flicked a left-wing cross wide , Lewis Taylor kept the ball in on the right feeding the ball back to Hatton, whose beautiful ball only needed a touch from Kedwell to take it in. Raynor knew he was about to be beaten and almost tried to shy away from the effort only yards in front of him, but the ball somehow bounced off part of his body and stayed out.

As if to rub in the general feeling that this wasn’t going to be Wimbledon’s day, Duncan then overran the ball, diving into a Crawley player and seeing a second yellow card for his trouble. It was hard not to imagine that the way Crawley had played with equal numbers they would go on to take the game with a mans advantage. Wimbledon were lacking all over the pitch. It needed positive action from Brown and the Dons fans got it.

The supporters around me seemed to be united that Ricky Wellard needed to be replaced, with Paul Lorraine preparing to come on. However Jon Main was the unlucky man, in retrospect a sensible decision. Keeping two up front would have meant the remaining three midfielders would have to stay deep, effectively meaning we would spend the rest of the game pumping long hopeful balls to Kedwell and Main. Instead the move to bring off Main effectively released Moore and Taylor to use their pace to get forward and support Kedwell, knowing six players would be behind the ball most of the time.

The fact that Wellard stayed on the field, seemingly at Mains expense, angered a small minority of the crowd. Wellard had a dire game in the original tie, and hadn’t exactly stood out during the first half, but with Adjei injured and Godfrey coming back from injury and probably only having a half hour run-out left in him, Brown had to stick with his man, especially considering the possibility of extra time…

I think the problem is, a lot of our supporters see the likes of Wellard, Hatton, even Gregory who has been a revelation this season in my opinion, giving the ball away. What they don’t realise is our opponents are giving it back to us just as quickly on most occasions. We probably use the ball better than any team in our division, I would imagine if there was a statistics service for the Conference our pass completion rate would prove that. The problem being, if you like to pass the ball around, you are playing a lot more passes. It’s only natural that the number of errors would rise too, and I’m sure Terry and the players themselves are making the effort to cut them out. It will be the difference between a team of play-off contenders and a team that’s looking for automatic promotion.  

And Wellard was straight into the action in the second half, lining a free-kick up wide left. Sam Hatton was lurking next to him, but jogged away, for Wellard to knock a short ball to him. Hatton allowed the ball to run across his body before striking fiercely with the outside of his right boot. Rayner was just a spectator as the ball curled away just past the top right corner.

The Dons were working hard to make up for their lack of numbers, but you got the impression that Crawley could cause problems catching the Dons up field and using their man advantage. You just wondered how much they wanted it. The initial answer was, not much. They didn’t seem like they were that bothered about winning the game. Did Evans tell them to sit back and bide their time? If so, against ten men and in a game they had the upper hand in even when it was eleven against eleven, this was a critical error.

Evans was in the stand for this one thanks to his touch-line ban, apparently communicating with his bulldog assistant via mobile phone. According to a local Crawley paper this was an inconsistent method, as the bench repeatedly failed to hear the phone ringing. Could a lack of communication have been the answer, leaving confused players to go through the motions? Either way, perhaps if Mr Evans had been on the bench to start with, his team wouldn’t have ended up losing this game. But saying that, am I not giving Terry Brown, and the Wimbledon players, enough credit?

The Dons defence were alert throughout the second half, well marshalled by the returning Lorraine. While Inns and Johnson had been a more than competent partnership, Lorraine stopped Jefferson Louis being the dominant aerial force in the Dons half of the field. The whole back four seemed to take strength from his arrival, which perhaps eased the pressure on the midfield, allowing them to break forward more and more often in the half.

Crawley’s best chance of the half occurred without any of their forwards realising about it until it was too late. A deep cross from the right searched out Louis lurking at the far post. Under pressure from Lorraine, he seemed to take his eye off the ball which ended up bouncing off his shoulder. A couple of lurking Crawley players didn’t spot the ball until it was too late, a desperate challenge sending the ball out of the danger zone.

With just over twenty minutes to go, Wimbledon grew enough confidence to create a clear opportunity once more. A long ball aimed wide right was just kept in by Kedwell, who played a ball into the advancing Taylor. Probably the unsung hero of the night, Taylor allowed the ball to run on to Luke Moore, twenty yards out. Moore guided a shot towards the bottom right hand corner, that Raynor didn’t sem to pick up until it was too late, the ball squirming into the corner sending the Dons fans into raptures.

The Crawley fans had other ideas however. Probably imagining their side was going to go on and win, it must have been frustrating to find themselves now a goal behind. Yet perhaps a few of them remembered how the battle of items thrown at goalkeepers ended level, the Dons cup of baked beans being levelled up in the last-minute by what looked like half a toilet pan spilling over the barrier towards Jamie Pullen.

In no mood to lose another contest to the Dons on the night, Crawley fans gained a huge advantage by aiming a good half a dozen plastic bottles, a number of coins and various other items at Jamie Pullen, causing the game to be held up for several minutes while stewards cleared the objects from the field and the referee handed a number of them to his assessor in the stand. Well done, Crawley fans! You murdered us in that particular contest! Now, lets remind everyone who IS playing Millwall a week on Monday?

Crawley hit straight back. A cross hoisted in from the right saw Louis get up unchallenged, only to plant his header straight into Pullen’s arms. Then with fifteen minutes to go, Louis was at it again, barging Hatton away before cutting inside and slamming a right foot effort just wide of the left post with Pullen rooted. In fact Jefferson Louis seemed to be the only Crawley player on the field capable of causing the home team problems. Sadly he was getting little support from Willock, who so nearly became a Dons player back in the summer. For those of you worried that Ross Montague might not be up to our high standards, hey, it could have been worse!

I believe it was around this point that those photos shown on the Crawley website as ‘conclusive proof’ they should have had a penalty were taken. I failed to even make a note of the incident, it didn’t seem relevant at the time. In fact it still doesnt seem relevant. In my mind I can see it though, I believe it was Willock who picked the ball up in the Dons box with his back to goal, chosing to lean back into Pullen eventually giving the ball away. Many have mentioned the lack of class involved in putting this on your official website, especially when it mentions they have seen the DVD, and to return to the website later for more details… now I’m guessing by the lack of updates that someone at Crawley has had the chance to view the DVD and found, erm, nothing. Secretly, I’m hoping it shows Pullen bodyslamming several red shirted players, as this will more than make up for the Main penalty incident…

With around ten minutes to go the Dons had four quick-fire chances to put the game beyond the visitors reach. Firstly some good work involving the much castigated Wellard and Taylor set Moore free in the box, but the ball seemed to take an age to come down by which point a Crawley player was able to stick a foot in to deflect it away for a corner. Then Inns beat Raynor to a free kick from the right guided in by Wellard, only to get too much of a connection on it sending the ball flying into the Tempest.

Sam Hatton then played in a ball for Kedwell to attack from an angle to the right of goal. Rayner did well on this occasion to close the angle, the ball bouncing off him for a corner from Kedwell’s shot. With the Crawley players now visibly tiring a long corner from the left was nodded down by Lorraine into the path of legendary goalscorer Alan Inns (in that when he scores everyone remembers, so rare an occasion it is…), only for the Dons most improved player to lean back and strike over the bar.

Crawley’s final big chance fell to Louis with four minutes on the clock. A long cross from the left saw Pullen back pedalling, only for Louis to head onto the top of the bar under pressure from Johnson and his own team-mate Willock. Of course, the referee decided to give a corner…

Not that it came to anything. Dons fans were starting to relax, as were the players, as on ninety minutes Lewis Taylor found space down the right, beating his man before firing a cross over that seemed too close to Rayner. The Crawley keeper only succeeded in tipping the ball into the air, for the man of the moment Danny Kedwell to tap in at the far post from a narrow angle. It was no more than Keds, and the team deserved. The vast majority of the 2467 crowd erupted minutes later at the final whistle, as Brown pointed his men towards to Tempest. However he pushed a tracksuited Jon Main to the front to receive the acclaim, the huge smile on his face revealed his personal delight at the teams victory despite his personal disappointment. What a great display of team spirit to cap a fantastic performance.

How the players will get their feet on the ground before an important league game at Chester I don’t know, and at this point I don’t care. The Chester game should take care of itself. For all the hot air coming from the Crawley camp, lets remind ourselves once more – which of our clubs is going to Millwall?

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FA Cup Score! (Tuesday 27th October ’09)

AFC Wimbledon    (1) 3    Main (15), Moore (66), Kedwell (90)

Crawley Town    (1) 1    Louis (27)

The Dons finally progressed to a tie at The New Den after a tense night at Kingsmeadow. Jon Mains goal gave Wimbledon an early advantage before Crawley came back strongly for the remainder of the half, Jefferson Louis grabbing an equalizer after breaking the offside trap. Derek Duncan’s second yellow card saw the home side reduced to ten men on the stroke of half time, and the visitors looked favourites at that point. An exemplary second half game plan from Terry Brown saw the visitors picked off on the break by Luke Moore, before Kedwell settled the game late on following an awful error by Crawley keeper Rayner.

The big news in the rest of tonights replays saw Tooting & Mitcham overcome Eastbourne Borough on the Conference clubs ground (meaning at least one Merton club has won there this season…). Two penalties from ex-Dons flop Matt York in extra time saw our former rivals through to the first round for the first time since 1977, where they travel to Stockport.

Elsewhere the Dons league opponents on Saturday Chester City crashed 0-4 at home to fellow Conference strugglers Barrow, further adding to the Cheshire clubs financial woes. Kettering overcame a trip to Redditch thanks to a goal in the last-minute of extra time, however Kidderminster weren’t so lucky crashing 3-1 at Fleetwood. Salisbury came back from 1-2 down at home to ambitious Southern Premier club Farnborough, eventually winning through 4-2.

Match report to follow…

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The Magic Of The Cup II

Our 1-1 draw on Saturday has brought the teams together to settle the tie once and for all, this time the Dons have the dubious advantage of home turf, and we all know the reward for winning through (but none of us are talking about it, right?). Actually I haven’t been able to check whether Crawley internet chat has balanced out some loose tongues amongst the Dons fans regarding the possibility of playing Millwall, in the eyes of the Football Gods this could have cancelled their ire towards us… I have registered for their forum, but can’t remember my login details, or be bothered to look them up. I’ve always thought having a closed forum was a sign of a very self-important football club – like the majority of people really need to be kept from such top-secret information.

Anyway, time constraints mean a full preview is impossible, the game kicks off tonight at 7.45, get yourself down to the Meadow and cheer the lads over the line.

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Crawley Town 1 AFC Wimbledon 1 – A Match Report

It doesn’t matter who we play, FA Cup ties are nervous affairs for me. The legs go a bit wobbly, I get twitchy and in need of a constant nicotine fix… and I don’t really smoke that much these days. I’ve long since realised smoking isn’t as cool as it appears in the movies (especially when you spot a girl across a crowded dance floor, then get smoke in your eyes, recovering vision in your streaming eyes just in time to see said girl and usually most of her friends pointing and laughing at you…). Cigarettes are hard things to quit, yet in all other aspects of my life I have cut them out… except football.

To be fair, circumstance helped calm me down. A couple of pints in the pub beforehand where I had the pleasure of meeting a number of Dons fans that in fairness I should have done ages ago. I won’t name them for fear this report becomes as cliquey as an article in WUP(!), but they certainly helped me relax… at least momentarily.

I got to the ground by trudging through and underpass rendered a death trap thanks to slippery pavement and wet leaves… and maybe a poor choice of footwear on my part… Crawley, or at least the part around Broadfield Stadium, looks as soulless as you would expect from a new town. The stadium itself is the shit shaped cherry on the sewage cake. Built on the cheap, all breezeblocks and concrete… It reminds me of the purely functional Eastern Bloc stadiums of the 80’s.

Actually quite flattery pic of Broadfield Stadium

Actually quite flattery pic of Broadfield Stadium

The turnstiles themselves looked like a hand me down from the Premier League, like Farnborough’s Chelsea rejects. Yet upon passing through them, I handed over my fourteen quid, and in return I got… nothing. No ticket, no receipt, absolutely no record of entering the stadium. Even Combined Counties League sides managed to rustle up a roll of stubs to hand out. The true nature of Crawleys, erm, lack of professionalism would become apparent later in the afternoon.

Unfortunately the side that Crawley managed to put on the pitch didn’t match their chaotic administration. While the Dons had difficulty finding their feet in the first half, the hosts took advantage by taking control of the game. Just four minutes in big Jefferson Louis managed to meet a deep corner only to guide it straight into Pullen’s arms. A couple of minutes later a good Crawley move saw the ball switched quickly from right to left only for Danny Forrest, who was a real thorn in the Don’s side all afternoon, to hit his effort wide of the near post.

Forrest made no mistake with his next effort. Wimbledon had several efforts to clear without success, the ball finding its way to the Crawley number seven on the right corner of the six yard box. His fierce effort took a nick off of Alan Inns, flashing past Jamie Pullen into the net via the underside of the bar.

Surely this was the wakeup call the Dons needed? Ahhhmmm, no. They continued playing in a manner that involved a few misplaced passes before eventually someone gave the ball away. Either that or Alan Inns thumped it forward and Crawley regained possession slightly quicker than they normally would have done. Having said that, Crawley weren’t exactly turning the screw either. After a bright start they just seemed happy to contain the visitors, which they managed to do easily.

Ready for kickoff

Ready for kickoff

It seemed like the Dons players hadn’t realised this was an FA Cup game. The midfield was absent for long periods, the hapless Ricky Wellard watching the game bypass him, perhaps not looking as poor as he would normally due to slack performances all round. Sam Hatton was exceptional, putting in probably his best performance of the season albeit at fullback. His involvement in two second half incidents changed the game in Wimbledon’s favour.

Firstly, a rare Crawley counter attack found Louis bearing down on goal down the left flank. Brett Johnson seemed to have the situation covered until an unfortunate slip saw the goal open up for the frontman. His attempted shot was blocked for a corner by Hattons appearance from nowhere, a wonderful challenge that probably went a long way to keeping his side in the competition.

Then just before half time, a Wellard corner was easily cleared only as far as Hatton lurking on the left edge of the area. Easily beating the first man he put his foot through the ball, firing low into the back of the net. Now this was Wimbledon’s first shot on target, it probably would have drawn cheers from the large travelling support if it had cleared the roof of the terrace behind. Regaining parity at that key point gave renewed hope leading into the half time period.

The ten minute break at half time gave me time to experience the stadium’s smoking area (i.e. outside the stadium), and the matchday programme. As if Crawley haven’t been put through the ringer enough by me already. Oh, Red Devils, I haven’t even started yet! This programme… it had a really thin cover page that screws up and rips easily in your pocket. Plus the content… the usual shit. I actually think the same about most programmes but don’t care to mention it because most clubs don’t have big signs up saying MATCH PROGRAMME £2.50 which someone has attached a piece of paper to obscuring the £2.50 and scribbled £3 on…

The second half kicked off with our boys attacking the away end, and it was a different Wimbledon who took the game by the scruff of the neck. It took a while, and the hosts again created the first clear-cut opportunity, and unidentified Crawley man being denied brilliantly by Pullen at his near post. Ten minutes into the half, and Terry Brown had seen enough, removing the weak link in Wellard and replacing him with Kennedy Adjei.

The effect was immediate. Instead of Wellard lazily drifting across the field like a feather caught in the breeze, Adjei stamped his authority on the game by putting in challenges, winning the ball, passing with some level of accuracy and intelligence. Normal things that midfielders are expected to do. We can no longer afford to carry individuals, that must be the lesson we take into the rest of the season. How can we expect to have good runs in the Cup competitions if we effectively play with ten men for the majority of games?

Kedwell in control

Kedwell in control

With Taylor and Moore receiving the ball on either flank with increasing regularity, the fullbacks joining the attacks and Kedwell not required to drop back and help the midfield as much, Wimbledon started to look like the team that would go on to take the tie. A storming Kedwell run on the hour saw him carry the ball down the right flank before his low cross somehow evaded everyone at the near post, with no one on hand to tap into an empty net at the far.

Jon Main seems to have regained his form, and more importantly the confidence that he can play at a higher level. A high ball over the top was well watched by last seasons top scorer, protecting it from his marker as it bounced in the area. Keeping the ball at arms length from his man, he hit a shot from a tight angle that took Crawley keeper Rayner by surprise and unluckily bounced away off the near post.

Rayner had gone missing when Hattons strike hit the back of the net, a fact that Dons fans had noticed. Quite why a fellow Dons fan felt the need to remind him by throwing a paper cup at him I don’t know. I mean, a paper cup??? Quite what thats going to do I don’t know; apart from making you, and by extension all Dons fans, look like knobheads. Besides the fact it was only a paper cup, theres just no class in doing it. We are Wimbledon fans, we are a cut above the likes of Crawley. We were a bit fortunate that someone in the Crawley end threw something at Pullen towards the end, but there is no credit to be gained from sinking to their level.

The problem I had with Rayner was his beard. One of his team mates really needs to pull him to one side about it. Fair play, a few of us (myself included) like to grow a bit of face fur over the winter period, it keeps you warm on cold evenings and winter mornings. Rayner should perhaps be going down the ‘Viking’ road like me rather than the ‘History teacher’ look he is currently sporting… it just looks, well, it looks a bit rubbish.

In fact, shouldn’t we be encouraging our own players, especially Pullen, to grow beards (even just for the duration of our cup run?). Lets not forget, we once went on a decent cup run as a non-League club that made us famous up and down the land, and the bearded gentleman between the sticks made a bit of a name for himself… Plus Pullen would scare the life out of a few lightweight Football League centre forwards, who wouldn’t have come across an albino Yeti many times in their career.

Hatton tries to ignore the empty terraces...

Hatton tries to ignore the empty terraces...

The Dons next attack was down the left, and this time Luke Moore’s direct run caused problems. He made it to the bye-line before his attempted pull back bounced off a Crawley defender, narrowly sneaking past the near post. Another Dons break saw Lewis Taylor break down the right. Taylor really is a sight to behold, watching him fly down the flank, bamboozling defenders as he goes. An intelligent ball into Kedwell saw the big hitman just unable to get the ball from beneath his feet, a challenge from a Crawley man only seeing the ball as far as Main, whose effort at goal deflected straight back into Rayner’s hands.

Wimbledon’s big chance sadly relied on the referee to do the right thing and point to the spot, as Main burst into the Crawley area on the right, rounded his man only to be hauled down by his opponent. Now there was no doubt about what happened, it only relied on the referee blowing his whistle and pointing to the penalty spot. The guy had two hands around Main, denying him the chance to move towards goal or get a shot away. The referee saw it as clearly as we did… yet for some reason, he bottled it.

I have mentioned in the past how we need referees to do their job. We have skillful players who many defenders just cannot cope with. We have been awarded numerous penalties this season because of it, in fact we have been given seven. Yet on numerous occasions, referees have just bottled it. This has cost us points in the past, and could have cost us our place in the First Round.

I think referees are showing a great deal of paranoia following the high-profile beachball incident at the Stadium of Light last week. Yesterday our friendly man in black ran twenty yards, holding up the game in the process, in order to burst an inoffensive tiny yellow balloon that found its way into the Crawley penalty area. If only he had been more thorough at his job moments earlier, perhaps I wouldn’t have wasted two paragraphs moaning about his performance.

The Dons wouldn’t go on to get a further clear-cut chance in the game, although Kedwell again burst down the right, this time firing into the side netting. This infuriated Luke Moore in the centre, but to be fair he hadn’t managed to take up a decent position, so Keds was within his rights to go it alone.

Crawley went on to raise our nerves by forcing a few corners towards the end that were dealt with comfortably by Wimbledon. One scramble saw Pullen bundled over by a Crawley man, who found his way into the book (this was the incident that saw the object find its way from the Crawley end in Pullens general direction… again I think it was a bog roll or something, but why do it?).

Crawley also managed to raise our tempers at the final whistle. First they announced the crowd as a mere 2204, a figure that drew an incredulous response from both sets of fans. Now the relevance of not issuing tickets becomes clear. I’m not suggesting we go all St. Albans City and our directors moan about it in public- thats my job. I suggest we ask the FA to audit this figure. Whether it was an oversight by Crawley or not, I can’t be certain, but it has been widely agreed that the actual attendance was closer to 3000. This means that, purposely or not, Crawley Town have stolen several thousand pounds from our own club.

Only a cynic would suggest that an error in calculating the figures would more than make up for our appeal to the FA to reduce the admission price resulting in them losing a pound on every person entering the ground. And you have to wonder whether in that case, Crawley Town received all the money from their own turnstile operators. I heard talk that children were being charged £4, despite the ‘Kids for £1’ offer being heavily signposted… did this extra cash somehow disappear into turnstile operators pockets??? Purely by accident of course…

The final insult came on the final whistle, when the tannoy announcer reminded us all that the replay will be at ‘Kingstonian FCs ground’ on Tuesday night… Now thats just downright petty, in fact its bloody stupid. I dont think the PA guy at Crawley is thick, I think hes just an idiot, and such a provocative comment is actually a pretty dangerous comment from someone who is only supposed to be there for safety announcements…

Yes of course Kingsmeadow is home to Kingstonian FC, and it always will be. K’s have been my local side and second team for as long as I can remember. But the stadium is now owned and operated by AFC Wimbledon, and naturally I take great pride that the side I support have taken another local team in my home borough under their wing, hopefully leaving Kingstonian FC with a vastly improved stadium that they can use to build their own ambitions.

Of course. Crawley PA guy probably never thought that there was a pre-existing relationship between the two clubs. He’s probably one of those knobs who turns up on the K’s forum trying to stir up shit between the clubs. It ain’t going to work mate… I suppose we can only be thankful he didn’t mention Them…

So its back to the Meadow on Tuesday night, and very shortly we will know who the prize for the victor will be. Can I first appeal that should it be a tempting one, we don’t get over excited. As yesterday showed us, we still have a huge challenge awaiting us before we even think about that…

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