Tag Archives: FA Trophy

The Road To The Massive Arch Part One

There are cup ties against lower division opponents that will live long in the memory, such as the Ebbsfleet replay for example. Then there are games like yesterdays… The 3-0 scoreline might have given the impression to the many that took the opportunity to do some Xmas shopping that it was a comfortable victory, and yes it should have been a comfortable win against ten men, but didn’t quite pan out that way thanks to a disjointed midfield display. And yes, you can be kind to the boys and say it was their first game in a couple of weeks and there was bound to be some rustiness after training on Astroturf for two weeks, you can also make excuses and say against a better side they would have applied themselves a little better concentration-wise and perhaps there were an extra couple of gears they could have gone through if they needed to, but ultimately the small crowd left a little disappointed with the performance, and rightly so.

Braintree were a solid enough side, they worked hard, but the quality gap was evident when the Dons got the ball down and played it around as evident in the opening goal, and when they went down to ten men the Dons should really have run away with the contest. That it needed a couple of late goals to wrap things up probably summed up the performance, chances were missed earlier in the game that if taken perhaps would have glossed over the performance, as it was it was almost as if the Dons players considered the game wrapped up at 1-0… very much in the same manner we ended up being eliminated from the tournament last year at the hands of Workington. It could have happened yesterday – undoubtedly few would have shed too many tears if we had gone out, only 1201 bothering to turn up for a competition that at least during the early stages fails to capture the imagination of Dons fans.

The Dons had a few more breaks than said Workington game, and were assisted by a particularly toothless Braintree front line. Although I have to say the Dons back four were pretty faultless throughout in restricting the opposition, somewhat overworked thanks to the midfields insistence on turning the ball over to their opponents at every available opportunity, particularly in the second half. It was rather frustrating to watch, although its slightly easier to take when you’re winning football matches, you do wonder what Wrexham will do to us if we continue in the same fashion next week. And the really annoying thing was it came after such a promising opening period for the home team, capped off by an impressively worked goal after eight minutes. Some great interplay on the edge of the area saw the ball fed to Chris Bush, bursting through down the left channel. While he had a shooting opportunity he intelligently squared for Christian Jolley to firmly place the ball into the bottom left hand corner.

The visitors best chance of the game came later in the half, Sebb Brown deciding to come for a high ball into the box but beaten to the ball by Braintree striker Marks. His looping header was goalbound, but hooked away from under the bar by Yakubu, who had taken a position in the line to protect his goalkeeper. And the game seemed to be up for Braintree minutes later when a long clearance was chased down by Danny Kedwell, who positioned himself between ball and man, yet as he prepared to apply the finish he was crudely bundled over by Micheal Alaile. The referee had the red card out immediately, much to the frustration of some of the kids in attendance who were looking forward to their moment of pantomime chanting ‘Off! Off! Off!’ (I have to say I never thought the day would come where I’d get to criticise a referee for lack of showmanship…).

Naturally the Dons went on to dominate the remainder of the half, failing to extend their lead despite a couple of decent efforts falling to Sam Hatton, first he was played in by a clever ball by (I think) Luke Moore, only to see his firmly struck right foot effort across the keeper creep narrowly wide of the left post, then a fierce strike from twenty yards out in the right channel that appeared to bounce off the outside of the near post. You got the impression if one of those had gone in, the Dons would go on to run up a big score, but the small crowd were otherwise satisfied with the first half display.

I’m not sure what went wrong in the second half. The game was pretty much in the home teams pocket, but at least for the first half hour of the second period was characterised by some really sloppy play, the ball being given straight back to the opposition two, sometimes even three times in quick succession. As I’ve already said, the back four were doing a pretty good job of taking the ball back from Braintree, only to see their colleagues further up the field waste their efforts. To be fair, Braintree didn’t look like doing anything with it, but it would only have taken a fluke or a mishit to sail in, and the Dons could have been looking at the possibility of an unwanted replay on Tuesday night.

Eventually Terry Brown lost patience, putting Mark Nwokeji on up front with Danny Kedwell, Jolley and Jackson (who had replaced Luke Moore earlier in the half) ‘dropping back’ although in practice this meant a front four pushing on to Braintree’s tiring back line. As the visitors pushed forward, Wimbledon finally looked like they might put them out of their misery. The goal eventually came only four minutes from the end of normal time. The Dons won a free kick on the edge of the Braintree area, and as the visitors stood either arguing with the referee or pulling their statue impression, the home side were getting on with it, Sammy Hattons clever ball put Nwokeji through, as he took it round the keeper you wondered whether he had taken it too far wide, but he expertly converted from a tight angle to win the game. Two minutes later Kedwell gave the scoreline at least a satisfying gloss, a quick interchange saw him blast the ball into the bottom corner, the keeper getting a hand to it but the ball having far too much pace on it to keep it from bouncing off the upright and into the net. In fact there could have been further goals, as Nwokeji saw an effort clip the outside of the post.

Ultimately, despite the poor performance, a win is a win, and a place in the next round is all you can ask for. We were perhaps fortunate that no matter how bad we were, Braintree were a lot worse, as shown by their inability to create a goalscoring effort in the second half despite being gift-wrapped possession on a regular basis. Tomorrows draw will give us a game slap bang in the middle of January, a month that will go a long way towards revealing just how serious our promotion challenge is. With trips to Newport, Darlington, Fleetwood, Bath and Gateshead, as well as the 1st February York game, sods law suggests the draw will give us another long away trip. While picking our strongest eleven was a given on Saturday, by the time the Second Round rolls round and injuries and suspensions take their toll, we might not have that luxury.

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Braintree Preview

We’ve all had a rest from football, or at least the Dons (surely the only football worth bothering with…), for the best part of two weeks. This blog certainly went into slumberland, I did attempt to start writing a post I entitled Nothing Much Is Going On, but by the time I had commented on the weather and thrown in a few lame jokes, I realised there was genuinely nothing going on, and abandoned the project. Ironically I could have been working on my Xmas WUP article, but as I completely forgot it’ll have to wait until I’ve written this, and as I haven’t even got an angle on it yet I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for a quality effort…

Putting that minor insight into the writing of TAD and associated projects to one side for a moment, we finally have a game to get excited about. Braintree at home in the Trophy wouldn’t normally get the heart pumping, but they are after all top of the division below us in a competition that can provide us with our only hope of playing at Wembley this year. Plus you should all have got the Xmas shopping done last week, no excuses, I want to see at least 2,000 of you in TCRRFSKM come 3pm Saturday. Hopefully still remaining in the ground at 4.45…

In my Luton preview I mentioned how the game being postponed should be regarded as a Good Thing, yet the York postponement placed a slightly different angle on it. Having two games to catch up on might make you start to think that losing on Saturday will be no bad thing. I on the other hand disagree, in fact I disagree greatly. Theres no substitute in the game to winning football matches, and you have to ask the question that if the squad aren’t capable of playing an extra 6-8 games between now and May without dropping out of the promotion picture, then perhaps they don’t deserve to be in the race to start with. Maybe the young boys will get tired, maybe they’ll lose it mentally, but either way it’ll be experience earned. We’ll begin again next season and be stronger for it.

In the mean time, theres no value in wrapping the players in cotton wool. I hope, as he has suggested, Brown will put out a strong side for this, win it, and go on to have a solid run in the tournament, maybe even win the whole thing? Why not? Theres no-one in this division we should be afraid of in a one-off encounter, and our Cup no-shows against higher ranked teams won’t affect us as, well, for the time being there isn’t a club in the competition above us. Name your strongest side as promised, Terry, let’s have a decent performance and see us through to the next round (for which we already have a free weekend lined up), and we’ll see where we go from there. Cue TAD advising everyone ‘this is a blessing in disguise’ in my match report after we get turned over on Saturday.

Having said that, Braintree obviously aren’t going to stand to one side and say ‘There you go chaps. Easy passage to the next round this way…’. As our games against Ebbsfleet showed, the quality in the division is there, especially when they are right up for the game. And just as I write this – well, several hours earlier actually. I wrote the first few paragraphs at lunchtime and resumed this evening from ‘And just as I write this…’ (see if you can spot the join…). Anyway, as I wrote this, Terry Brown has popped up in the Surrey Herald warning us all not to underestimate Braintree. He also mentions on the O/S how the plan is to get to Wembley, as ‘the play-off final is in Manchester this year’… kind of giving away the belief I think we all share that Crawley or Luton or both will end up running away from us at some stage soon.

Anyway, in terms of a potential Dons lineup, its pretty much full strength with the exception of Ed Harris finally getting to serve his suspension, Brett Johnson still injured but looking, like Jesus, at a Christmas comeback. Oh fuck, hang on, Jesus was Easter, wasn’t he? Ok, Johnson is planning a Jesus like comeback, but at Christmas, not Easter. And to round-up more recent team news, Sammy Moore has twinged his groin, while Lee Minshull has recovered from his broken toe only to cry off with a note from his mom or something. His punishment is featuring in next weeks 0-1 reverse at Dulwich in the LSC. Punishment indeed, for I have every intention of being at Dulwich on Wednesday night. No excuses here. It is Wednesday, right???

TADs predicted lineup – Brown; Hatton, Blackman, Yakubu, Franks; Gregory, Yussuff, Moore (either, depending on who is fit); Jolley, Kedwell, Jackson

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Its Braintree In The Trophy…

That previously empty looking weekend in your diaries on 11th December can now be inked in with a home game against Braintree, currently sitting second in the BSS. The Dons have had a little difficulty overcoming sides from this division in FA competitions so far this season, and it will be interesting to see just how seriously Brown decides to take this competition. From a fans perspective though, and lets not be ashamed to be a little greedy here, it is the first step on what will be our only chance of reaching Wembley this season.

One positive about the timing of the game is currently we have a clear week after our game at York behind it and a clear week ahead to Wrexham, this could change if we require a replay following Saturdays game. There’s no doubt Brown will field the strongest side possible, but in a week that has seen key players rested after reaching the point of exhaustion the temptation will be there to give certain players a week off. If the game takes place a few days after a tough FA Cup replay, the decision to field a weakened side could be taken out of his hands.

I suppose how competitive we will be will depend on whether Brown manages to bolster his squad. With a few thousand swirling around in the coffers thanks to the TV money from the cup run, Brown mentioned keeping tabs on another target man to take the pressure off Danny Kedwell in Sundays programme notes, as well as the possibility of bringing in a defender on loan in his post match press conference. At the moment, with Johnson’s injury and Yakubu’s inability to play two games in a week, we are effectively down to two and a half centre halves for our two biggest games of the season, meaning the talented but young Harris and Franks will pair up for either the Stevenage or (more likely) Luton games.

As for Braintree themselves, they seem more than capable of pulling off an upset even if the Dons go full strength. Despite being something of a cliché that all you want in a cup draw is a side from a lower division at home, you would almost have preferred a home tie against the likes of Hayes or Bath than a side near the top of their division and firing on all cylinders.

Having said that, the draw could have been worse. We avoided Crawley, Luton… even the likes of Cambridge would have given us a decent game. This tie is winnable. Questions about the strength of side we should field can wait, the way players seem to be dropping like flies at the moment suggests if things get any worse in the next couple of weeks we may not have too much of a squad to select a side from…

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‘We’ll Never Make It Back To Wembley’ Part Three (or Workington Match Preview)

I faced a difficult decision on Tuesday night. One one hand I had every intention of going to watch a mix-strength side take on Camberley in the SSC. On the other, I was freezing on my way home from work, which was a fantastic time for my wife to call and suggest a takeaway, some wine and a movie. So I faced that classic dilemma; AFC or KFC? Dons or a doner? Vino or the team-o??? (Yeah that last one was a bit desperate).

If it had been any other competition, even an FA Youth Cup game I would have been there like a shot. But faced with watching a group of promising youngsters getting kicked around by an experienced Combined Counties side while our senior players looked on and avoided injury left me feeling a little flat. Big props to the 410 who did turn up though, I’m sure the vast majority wished they hadn’t bothered after we squeaked through on penalties.

I’ve always thought the SSC was the sort of unloved competition worthy of experimenting on, i.e. play the early rounds during pre-season, straight to penalties after 90 minutes, turn the whole thing into a 5-aside tournament and play it over a morning at Goals…

Yet now we turn our attention to a rather more prestigious competition, and one that rewards success with a trip to Wembley for the final, with the merchandise windfall that goes with it. Hopefully a place in the quarter finals will be enough to tempt the many that failed to turn up for the Boreham Wood and Altrincham games and ensure at least a half decent atmosphere at the Meadow.

After eliminating Altrincham we now face the other unsuccessful side in the 1977 League election process, Workington. The phrase ‘grudge match’ has been used elsewhere, and if its going to bring the crowds in then why not? As we ourselves now know, League membership should be regarded as a treasured gift – yet it’s only when League status is lost that you really notice how much it means. Having said that I doubt the Workington supporters will be heading down with torches and pitchforks in search or Ron Noades (and if they were, I might join them…).

The Reds come into the game off the back of a nine game unbeaten run in League and Trophy games, including the prized scalp of Rushden. I would imagine the long journey and unfamiliar surroundings of Borough Park played a big part in this, which should underline why a replay on Tuesday night in Cumbria could prove as disastrous as a defeat. However their build up to the game so far seems to have involved quite a lot of hot air, not in a disrespectful way, and manager Darren Edmondson seems confidence that focusing on work rate and battling qualities will be enough to see us off. If indeed he has ‘studied tapes’ of our matches, I can only presume he would have realised by now his side will need a deeper game plan than that – or cross his fingers and hope we have a collective off day…

As for our Dons, I can only presume TB is currently pinning up the press cuttings in the dressing room as we speak (“Wimbledon used to be a team that was feared but that was in the days of Vinnie Jones. He’s not around any more so our lads have nothing to be scared of.”). Our new signing Josh Parker from QPR (why is it that every other teenager around at the moment seems to be called Josh?) is immediately available and with the loss of Ross Montague to what seems like a long-term injury  (just when he seemed to be finding his feet…), it is likely we might see Parker appear at some point. I have to say during his time at the club, Brown has proved an expert in the loan market, from short-term options like his late season five-player shuffle that got us through the Ryman playoffs to long-term signings such as Elder, he always seems to find the right player. Hopefully Parker will reinforce this reputation.

Apart from that he seems to be playing his cards close to his chest at the moment, so I’m not even going to make a fool of myself by predicting the line-up today. Either way, so long as the lads perform as we know they can, it is odds on we will find ourselves one step closer to being the only group of fans to see their side win the FA Amateur Cup, FA Cup and FA Trophy…

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Wimbledon 3 Altrincham 1 – Match Report 19/1/10

A much changed Dons line-up went through to the Third Round of the FA Trophy after a disjointed performance that was just about good enough to see off a battling Altrincham side. Lining up in a formation that owed more to ensuring as experienced a side as possible took the field, and with a non-existant bench, it could be argued this Wimbledon side just don’t know how to lose at the moment, despite making things hard for themselves at times played in front of a disappointing crowd of just 1450.

In fact it was Altrincham who had the first real effort of the game after two minutes, an outswinging corner firmly headed towards the left side of Sebb Brown’s goal, fortunately Jay Conroy had taken up a position on the post and was able to nod clear. Conroy found himself caught out of position frequently later in the game, but the tie would have followed a different course had he allowed this effort to creep past him. It was also pretty much the only effort Alty managed on goal before the break.

Not that Wimbledon dominated, at least not to start with. It took a while for the game to settle into any kind of pattern, as players fought to cut a niche for themselves while occupying slightly unfamiliar positions. For Danny Kedwell this seemed more of a problem than most, trying to play the Moore/Hendry role he constantly found himself sucked back deeper into midfield to win the ball, to the extent it almost seemed as if he was trying to play the holding role rather than the point of a diamond. Whatever his tactical instructions may have been, it left him far less effective than normal.

His battling qualities were still there, and he drew the foul that led to the Dons first chance just after the ten minute mark. Just right of centre, it seemed ideally positioned for Ricky Wellard’s left foot, but instead Hatton tried to whip it over right footed, the ball clearing the bar with ease. Next up Kedwell almost got on the end of a Main pullback after he had been set free down the left by a Hatton flick, sadly he was just beaten to the ball by a defender and the chance was gone.

Still the Dons now had Alty on the back foot. Despite not yet creating anything, and giving the ball away with worrying ease, the home side were getting the ball back thanks to some increasingly panicky clearances that allowed the Dons to build from the back once more. All of a sudden Wimbledon started to test Altrincham keeper Saunders. First, a Johnson cross found Kedwell whose looping header caused Saunders to stretch in order to collect. Then a Sam Hatton volley from the right edge of the penalty area caused the visitors custodian to drop smartly to his right to gather.

Finally, with five minutes of the half remaining Wimbledon found the breakthrough. Kennedy Adjei was given time to compose himself on the half way line before launching a rampaging surge into the visitors half, leaving two opponents for dead in the process. The ball found its way to Ricky Wellard loitering on the right edge of the area, a drop of the shoulder saw him past the opponent that blocked his path as he cut back inside, and rifled a left foot effort into the bottom right corner of the goal.

There then followed a bizarre piece of refereeing that infuriated the Dons fans and left both sides feeling a little hard done by. A through ball found Altrincham’s Chris Senior through on goal, and despite being a clear two yards offside the linesman’s flag stayed down. This threw Sebb Brown’s concentration, and he spied the danger too late before rushing out to clear. Senior’s balance had gone by the time the two came together, and after prodding the ball past the keeper the Alty man decided to take the easy option and tumble over the goalkeepers leg. Finally a whistle came, too late for Dons fans liking, awarding the free kick in Altrincham’s direction. A yellow card for Brown, but no more on account that Senior’s trajectory was sending him closer to the corner flag than the Dons goal, and at least two covering players were protecting the goal.

Not that the Altrincham bench were happy with the free kick, and kicked off into one of the biggest strops seen at Kingsmeadow this season, which included an always enjoyable spot of crowd interaction. Perhaps Alty manager Graham Heathcote should have read Terry Brown’s Mansfield programme notes, as there was little Respect shown by him towards the match officials. Ultimately you could say the men in black came up with the correct result, the referee seemed to notice something was up and took leniency on young Brown when I suppose a red card was a possibility – we have seen those given in the past. But ultimately the only losers in the incident were the Dons… if the referee had managed to make the correct decision to start with, I wouldn’t be writing this now!

[Edit – I’ve actually seen the video now and in particular the image reproduced here, and I’m ready to accept that it might have been a closer offside call than I suggested – which of course doesn’t excuse Senior’s extravagant tumble, which you don’t quite get the full benefit of on the video. For the avoidance of any doubt though, you can see the direction he was heading (Berrylands) and the number of covering players (plenty)]

Presumably Heathcote used this mock sense of injustice to his advantage during the half time break, not that it did him much good as his side found themselves two goals down less than five minutes into the second period. Adjei controlled a fierce low clearance, and slid the ball into Ross Montague, who had his back to goal on the edge of the area. Montague quickly laid off to Jon Main, who took a touch before drilling the ball into the bottom right hand corner.

For the next few minutes it looked as though the Dons would put the game well beyond their visitors. Main forced a corner on the right, and Wellard’s delivery was flicked on at the near post by Brett Johnson, only to be deflected behind. Wimbledon then threatened though a number of succesive corners, ended when Jon Main found himself brushed off the ball in the area, with the referee and his assistants being in no place to make a decision.

It was a that point that Heathcote decided to make changes, bringing on the more offensively minded Clee and Little. The switch had an immediate effect, with Altrincham now able to hold the ball in the Dons half more effectively and build attacks. Minutes later they forced the first real moment of danger in the Dons box, with Shaun Densmore’s precise volleyed cross from the right finding Senior in space, only for the Alty man to rush his headed finish when he could have taken the ball down. It was only a short respite for Wimbledon, as the visitors pulled themselves right back into the game.

As another Alty forage forward looked to have been repelled, a half-clearance found Anthony Danylyk in space twenty-five yards out, and he took his chance really well, returning the ball into the bottom left corner of Sebb Brown’s goal at such pace it gave the young keeper no chance.

Adjei immediately picked up a head injury that required a BIG bandage, however it was just coincidence that following this the Dons overworked midfield seemed to break down temporarily. Unable to pass the half way line, their balls forward were either over hit and poorly placed, or didn’t make it past the first man. Fortunately the back line was battling bravely against a barrage of crosses during a spell when it seemed a matter of when Altrincham would equalise rather than if.

But the storm had been weathered, and the Dons finally found their feet again in midfield. This culminated in a gradual spell of pressure that saw the hosts extend their lead and put the game beyond doubt. Following a bit of head tennis in the area a Ricky Wellard shotwas deflected into the air, looping perfectly for Jon Main to bury his header… Instead he just about did enough despite putting the ball too close to a defender for anyones liking. It seemed to have crossed the line before said unidentified Alty player fisted it away from goal, but Ben Judge was on hand to blast into the roof of the net and end the arguments.

Except the arguments between Main and Judge of course! To be honest it all happened to quickly to tell whether the linesman was flagging for Judge or for Main’s original effort, the two of them still trying to work it out long after the final whistle [Late edit – you can’t tell from the video either!]. To be fair Main gets more than his fair share, and Judge is a warhorse, reliable and loyal with it… Judge deserves the goal. If Jon Main has a problem with that, my only advice to him would be to make sure the ball hits the net in future – then no-one can take it away from you!

Five minutes later Altrincham had the ball in the net once more, this time ruled out due to a rather obvious handball by Colin Little, still it ensured a few Dons hearts leapt into mouths at a key moment. Despite the shaky performances from both sides, or rather because of the shaky performances, the game was reasonably exciting throughout. Although the Dons created more chances, including a self-made chance from a surprisingly lively Ross Montague that ended with a twenty yard shot that was slightly scuffed and comfortably saved by Saunders, it would have been slightly rough on Altrincham who deserve credit for their gutsy performance.

And those stay-away supporters ultimately missed out. Wimbledon now face the other unfortunate team that lost out to the 1977 Dons 4 Div 4 campaign – Workington of the Blue Square North. Without wanting to tempt fate, the Third Round draw has presented a series of fixtures that mean a winnable quarter-final would be just as likely as a difficult one – should we get that far… And to paraphrase Sam Allardyce (sort of…), those that weren’t there last night will be the first ones to complain when they can’t get tickets for the later rounds…

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‘We’ll Never Make It Back To Wembley’, Part Two (or Altrincham Match Preview 19.1.10)

After our return to League action, we immediately switch our attention to the Trophy and welcome Altrincham down to the ‘Meadow. While not exactly the Magic of the Cup, the Temptation of the Trophy will be enough to drag 1732 hardy souls down to Kingsmeadow to see this vital Second Round tie. In fact I’d almost rather have half of those there than the bland atmosphere we witnessed for most of Saturday, when my concentration had been broken on several occasions by the dropping of knitting needles in the Strank Stand…

I love midweek cup action at Kingsmeadow; that it’s normally just the hardcore who turn out for this type of game means perversely there is more concrete and steel for the atmosphere to bounce off, and not absorbed into static flesh like it was on Saturday. Plus where do these extra supporters disappear to for these midweek cup ties? We are always going to lose a few due to kids not coming, distant Dons being unable to travel, late shift workers not being able to get there in time… but that can’t account for half our regular fanbase, surely?

I think its down to our modern Sky-assisted idea (yup, it’s always Sky’s fault…) that there is nothing like the League, and all other tournaments are little more than a meaningless distraction… which as we all know is horsecrap of the highest order. The cup is where it’s at, and if you think back to some of the greatest games you’ve seen, I guarantee at least half of them would be cup ties – which those of you working out the ratio of League games played to Cup games would already have worked out, doesn’t quite add up…

To borrow a Football Managers Cliche, ‘The League is our bread and butter’… which probably explains why managers are more likely to suffer heart problems. Stop moaning about stress, try using low-fat spread for a while, that’ll sort it out. Plus you can’t eat bread and butter all the time, which is effectively what these stay-away fans are doing… How do they avoid the boredom of Conference fixture after Conference fixture? You need the curry of an FA Cup run, or the microwave Spag Bol of the Trophy from time to time… even the Curly Wurly of the Surrey Senior Cup is enough to sort me out good and proper…

As for the game itself, lets not kid ourselves that we are going to overwhelm Altrincham. If they won their three games in hand they would only be a win away from us (not that they will necessarily win those games, it’s just a way of saying ‘careful now..’), and have shown some pretty decent form away from home. Their supporters are confident – not just for this tie but for them to go on and win the thing – which is a great attitude to have (and I mean that not in a patronising way, football gods…).

Having said that, I think we would have been more likely to throw this one away if we’d played the game on its original date. Ever since we lost 1-5 at home to Southall in the Combined Counties Premier Challenge Cup we have looked shaky at the ‘Meadow in cup competitions played on a Saturday. I’m still waking up in the middle of the night sweating while having nightmares about Walton & Hersham. Even right up to Boreham Wood, when we could easily have ended by shuffling out of the ground wondering what just happened.

Team news now, and as the O/S conveniently managed to point out just before I had the chance to, John McAliskey is Cup Tied and won’t be featuring for the visitors. There, thats it, my one and only insight into the Altrincham lineup and they go and ruin it… ahem, although my sources close to the Moss Lane outfit suggest apart from that the lineup will be pretty similar to the side that picked up three points at Ebbsfleet on Saturday (which is more than we did…).

Dons news, and the list of those available would probably be easier to write than those that are out, but as far as I’m aware those Cup Tied are Hendry, Poole and Garrard, with the beast that is Elder unavailable due to not being signed in time for the original tie (one of those weird rules that you only find out about when it affects you…). With Saturday’s Man of the Match out, we will have to make do with top scorer Danny Kedwell starting, and with a point to prove.

In reality our best forward line will probably turn out to be Kedwell alongside Elder, despite Jon Main’s best attempts to put himself about Keds style on Saturday. Main can put an end to that type of talk tomorrow however, and I’m sure he’ll be desperate to avoid slipping out of the starting XI altogether no matter how effective most of us think he can be as an impact substitute.

So in my opinion, we will line up something like this;












Ricky Wellard’s fifteen minutes against Mansfield has shown his desire is there, even if we may have to make do with the negatives as well as the positives he brings to the side – although like Sam Hatton I’m one of those who firmly believes those positives far outweigh any mistakes he might make. Plus he seems to have discovered his eye for goal, so keep an eye out for any screamers he might let loose from distance… one day one of them is going to end up in the top corner and we’ll be talking about it for months…

Apart from that, the side pretty much picks itself at the moment, mainly due to those unavailable. With Lorraine out the centre half pairing looks assured, I think if Blanchett can walk he’ll be asked to play over a virus-ridden Derek Duncan, and continuity will be good enough reason to keep Sebb Brown between the sticks despite what must be a strong urge to give returning senior goalkeeper Jamie Pullen a Cup run-out. The only thing I’m not quite sure of is formation, so we could see something interesting happen involving Ross Montague should Terry decide to leave a midfielder on what I would imagine could be a fairly lightweight bench.

I spent most of today thinking about this game; I’ve been looking forward to it since the draw was made. We could be in for a difficult but watchable game, I would expect the home team to have 60-70% of possession, but it certainly won’t be enough to make sure of a victory on its own – its making use of the ball that is going to ensure whether we win through, or watch Altrincham continue on their way and wonder what might have been.

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FA Trophy Draw

The draw for the First Round of the FA Trophy has seen the Dons drawn at home to Boreham Wood. We have lent Luke Garrard to them in a bid to regain some match fitness, although he would be cup-tied for this competition should we progress, and cannot play against us in this tie. Although this looks an easy tie on paper lets not forget we were eliminated by a side two divisions below us last year, albeit on their pond like surface in the pouring rain.

During the notorious pre-Christmas run in the Dons attendances normally shrink slightly, so a cup game against visitors two divisions below us won’t exactly pack out the stands. However lets not forget this is a competition we can win, and the news that there are six all-BSP ties means there can only be a maximum of eighteen BSP sides through to the last 32.

Of the all-Conference ties, Stevenage and Oxford, two sides who could be considered early favourites have been given easy looking ties at home to Ebbsfleet and Hayes respectively. The Cambridge-Luton, Wrexham-Altrincham and Mansfield-Tamworth ties only serve to ensure the strongest of these sides will progress to provide tricky potential opponents in the next round. You would expect Kettering to knock out Barrow but it won’t be easy for them.

As for potential shocks, broke Chester at home to cash-rich Fleetwood looks the tie to put your money on. Bashley beating Crawley would be fantastic if unlikely, as I feel we are destined to meet our friends from Sussex more than once more this season… Woking will feel they have a decent chance hosting Forest Green, and Grays must fear a trip to Worcester, but you would imagine the rest of the teams in our division will be feeling fairly confident, although the Maidstone-Histon tie could be decent.

The ties will be played two weeks this Saturday on 12th December.

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Conference Score (Saturday 21st November ’09)

AFC Wimbledon    (0) 0

York City    (0) 1    Rankine (63)

The Dons slipped to yet another home defeat after a Micheal Rankine header secured the points for York who burst back into the playoff places as Wimbledon slip to twelfth. In front of a 4000 crowd, boosted by a fantastic 400 or so travelling supporters from York, the Dons failed to create an effort on target in a game of very few chances.

Elsewhere in the division the game of the day saw Cambridge claw back a two goal deficit at Luton in the last ten minutes. Leaders Oxford won at home to Barrow, second place Stevenage also won at Forest Green as ex-Franchise roly-poly self tan man Lee Harper’s Kettering showed signs of the wheels falling off their promotion hopes beaten 2-0 at home by Kidderminster.

Looking a few weeks ahead, the FA Trophy reached the final round of qualifying, as some old friends battled it out for one last shot at the Dons. Top of the list were Woking, who slaughtered the Stalebuns at Queensfield to give them that half chance of drawing us and playing their Biggest Game Ever. Bromley are out though (well done Maidstone!), yet the prospect of a visit from the villagers from down the river still exists as they beat Concord 3-2. Chelmsford and Hornchurch drew 3-3 and Dover overcame Dartford 3-2.

Match Report tomorrow (I’m not making any promises, but it will definitely be before the Ebbsfleet game…)

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