Tag Archives: Ismail Yakubu

News Round Up 20/6/11 – Kedwell Departure Closer

Well, according to the press it is.

It seems Gillingham are in pole position for his signature, with reports suggesting the deal is all but done, the player has agreed terms and all that is required is the clubs to agree a fee. This might not be as closed as the Kent media are suggesting, especially as Jacob Murtagh at the Surrey Herald decided to bother asking someone at Wimbledon rather than accepting what Steve Evans thinks. Evans himself has ruled Crawley out of the running, but you wonder whether he might nip in with a late bid, considering his documented admiration of Kedwell and habit of stockpiling strikers. Then again, he might just be telling the truth…

The fact is, this deal is far from done. The Herald article suggests a fee in excess of £60,000 is being sought, do Gillingham have the funds and desire to make the deal happen? Who else is waiting in the wings for Gillingham to drop the ball? There has been a lot of interest in the money we might get for Kedwell, we are all interested in how much he is going to go for, but I think the correct thing for the club to do will be to ensure the fee remains undisclosed if at all possible.

For now at least, it’s not as if we won’t find out later down the line when the accounts are published, but publicly flouting how much money the club has burning a hole in their pocket won’t help when negotiating with Kedwell’s potential replacement. One replacement we know won’t be coming to the Dons is Marvin Morgan – also interestingly linked with Gillingham – but he’ll now be lining up with Shrewsbury next term.

On the subject of prolific twitterers, former Swindon, Portsmouth and, erm, Juventus forward Vincent Pericard has claimed he is in talks with the Dons, but the rumour mill is in overdrive this summer and at least that one was from the horse’s mouth (sort of…). Some classics already doing the rounds involves Celtic eying up Keds, Neil Sullivan coming back to challenge Seb for the number one shirt, and former Dons forward Delano Sam-Yorke joining Auxerre on trial… although I actually just made that last one up off the top of my head as I write, yet it somehow seems about five times more likely than the former two.

Presumably while he was on the phone to Cash, Murtagh also found a new centre half is in the pipeline, although this article is a little short on detail. What we do know is the target is a right-sided centre half with Football League experience… so didn’t necessarily play for a Football League club last season… For example the club have just released one right-sided centre half with Football League experience (albeit one still with serious question marks over his ability to play more than once a week…), and Yakubu was today unveiled by Newport County.

Lastly, the club announced our opening League fixture with Bristol Rovers has been selected for live coverage on TV, presumably causing a sharp intake of breath from those accustomed to such announcements involving the game being switched to a Thursday. Fortunately, Sky at least have the sense to schedule games in a decent time slot, and we should at least be grateful this time around we are involved with a sports channel whose desire to saturate the market with football is at least realistic, mostly because Sky provides decent money rather than inconvenience people and expect them to be grateful just to be on TV… It really is a case of better the devil you know.

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Departures

Saying goodbye can be hard sometimes. The recent Jon Main tribute was hard to write (if you missed it you can catch up here), but even that didn’t reach the level of a post that has been read more than any other in the short history of the Anonymous Don, my farewell to Jason Goodliffe two years ago, an epic of an homage that bordered the homoerotic in places, and the writing of which took days due to my spontaneously bursting into tears at random. It never got to the stage where I asked Mrs AD to wear a Goodliffe mask though. I mean, I thought of it, who wouldn’t…

Then again saying farewell can sometimes be quite easy. For example, did any of us really notice when Andre Blackman slipped through the back door? While he certainly doesn’t fall into the Andre category, Delano Sam-Yorke never made an impact on the first team, despite doing well on loan at Basingstoke (and being enough of a threat we refused them permission to play him upon drawing the Hampshire side in the FA Cup). He certainly shone in pre-season, I can understand why Terry signed him, but with hindsight we might have noticed he wasn’t our sort of player after his Bromley impression at Corinthian-Casuals during pre-season…

As was commented after Max Porter signed, Mark Nwokeji was the last long-term target TB eventually got his hands on, and it certainly couldn’t have helped that he was effectively dropping a couple of divisions to join. Perhaps if he had come to us directly from Staines he might have made an impact… we love small, pacy strikers, we do… he could have been another Roscoe… Injuries didn’t help his cause, and as Jonny Main found his chances blocked by in form Christian Jolley. so Nwokeji couldn’t find a way past an emerging Ryan Jackson. Even when Jacksons form dropped off, Nwokeji found Luke Moore ahead of him and playing like a man possessed – and from March onwards the writing seemed to be on the wall for him.

It was the back four that saw the biggest surprises on the departure front. During pre-season Fraser Franks and Ed Harris performed so well they almost bound TB to sign both or neither. The latter was never an option, and the pair seemed inseparable form-wise in the early stages. Much has been made retrospectively of Harris performance in the FA Trophy defeat to Woking, while Harris didn’t exactly cover himself in glory that day, neither was it the stand out poor performance in what was a woeful team display. Harris is a player of great potential, Football League potential… and, yet, that may have been his undoing, with Brown looking to fill that squad place with a more immediate prospect. You almost get the impression TB had decided to only take one of the two with him if the Dons made it through the playoffs, if that was the case Harris has lost out to a slightly better man in Franks.

Harris must have been a difficult conversation for Brown, but not as difficult as having to break the bad news to Ismail Yakubu. Yak fell foul of his inability to play twice a week on a regular basis (something bemoaned by TB during more than one post match press conference…), Beyond his injury issues, Yakubu ticked all the boxes Brown would look for in a centre half, besides being physically imposing in both penalty areas, Yak was technically gifted with the ball at feet, and when he was on the pitch he seldom put a foot wrong. In fact, I can only remember one error, nodding into the side netting with goal gaping and clock ticking at Eastlands. Even that was probably a more difficult chance than the replay I’m currently viewing in my mind’s eye, and was ultimately dwarfed by his confident penalty that set the stage for Keds to blast us back where we belong.

Like Harris, I can understand Browns decision (in spite of being disappointed by it), Football League status will allow us to bring in someone at least equally talented that can play week in, week out… a case of lightning striking twice for Yak after Barnet came to a similar conclusion last summer. Ultimately I personally felt we could give it a go with our five current centre halves, and yes, we probably could, Fortunately we are led by a man who isn’t afraid to make big decisions to take our football club forward. I have confidence the new blood he will bring in to replace them will make us stronger. And yet, I’m still interested in where all of those guys will end up next season. Yakubu has already been in discussions with Fleetwood (perhaps unfortunate that if he can’t find a League side willing to take a chance on him, there aren’t too many southern sides that will be challenging for the Conference next season…). One or two of them could come back and haunt us at some point in the future…

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News Round-Up 24/5/11 – Brown Cuts Five

Ignoring the fact three posts within 24 hours is normally newsworthy enough as far as the Anonymous Don is concerned, today has seen Terry Brown announce five players have been released…. and there were a couple of shocks. The trio of strikers were not a surprise, Jon Main’s departure has been an open secret for weeks now, but Yakubu and Harris leaving stunned me a little.

It always seems a little harsh cutting players who have played a huge part in our promotion almost before the champagne corks have hit the floor, but that’s football. Yakubu seems to have been a victim of his injuries, and Harris eventually lost a season long war with Fraser Franks to decide which talented youngster would prevail, but I personally though Brown would give all five centre halves their chance – at least for next season.

Not for the first time, Brown has surprised me, but going on previous experience we should expect to see a couple of exciting replacements coming through the Kingsmeadow door over the next two weeks.

It goes without saying I wish Delano Sam-Yorke, Mark Nwokeji, the legend that is Jon Main, Ed Harris and Ismail Yakubu all the best for the future, and I will be recognising their contribution to the Dons in the coming weeks.

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Rushden 1 AFC Wimbledon 0

The problem with starting the season with a winning streak is even experienced supporters with twenty-five full seasons of following their team (like myself) can be fooled into thinking this might be the year we break all records as we romp to the title… until the first defeat shatters the illusion and we resign ourselves to a season of frustration and joy in equal measures.

Our first defeat of the season came in frustrating circumstances as the Dons dominated the game. Hang on, sorry, the Dons dominated the game for the first three minutes. For the remaining ninety-two minutes of play both sides played as if they had their memories wiped and were just coming to terms with this new spherical object bobbling around the place.

The hosts satisfied themselves with the basics – getting the ball forward quickly, keeping it tight at the back, etc. Wimbledon tried to play their normal brand of passing football, sadly not realising that the spell that makes the ball magically go where they need it doesn’t work away from home, where they are reduced to mere mortals cursed with poor touch and little vision.

Yet it could have been so different if either Yakubu’s header had veered either side of Rushden keeper Roberts (more on him later…), or Luke Moore had buried the rebound rather than looping his header onto the bar (it hit the bar right? It was quite murky down the far end…). It could have been a repeat of last season. Instead the game settled down, the Dons started to come apart and the visitors began to come into it themselves, especially once Sam Hatton left the game half way through the first half. Hattons replacement, Ryan Jackson, has been one of the highlights of the embryonic season so far, but when used in an attacking position on the right. When introduced as Hatton’s replacement at right back, he looked a little lost, unsure when to press on or hold, often finding himself not quite there positionally because of it.

As well as this, Rashid Yusseff was having a few difficulties fitting into midfield in place of the injured Ricky Wellard. Toks has looked impressive during his cameo appearances against Histon and Tamworth, but after a disappointing start he disappeared into anonymity midway through the half only to reappear occasionally to give the ball away. Up front Main and Moore looked isolated either side of Kedwell… Moore seemed to receive more than his fair share of high balls, which he stood little chance of converting into anything meaningful… and I have no doubt Jon Main will be his awesome self if presented with a chance in front of goal, but suffers when he receives the ball awkwardly on the half way line with little support.

Against a better side (perhaps that is a little unfair on Rushden – it would probably be more accurate to give them the benefit of the doubt and say ‘against a more confident side’…), the Dons would have gone in a couple of goals down. But the hosts were having their own problems creating chances, unless a chance counts as a mishit shot from twenty yards skewed wide these days. Their best effort came when Howe found space on the right, only to loft a back pass into Seb Browns hands while attempting to chip the goalkeeper.

Half time came with presumably the majority of the sparse crowd wondering why they had bothered making the journey, especially the Dons fans who paid £17 for the privilege. You have to wonder what Premier Sports viewers (sorry… THE Premier Sports viewer) will make of this tripe on a regular basis… and there are too many games like that at our level. At least a highlights package with a more mainstream channel would have given as much exposure to clubs whilst also papering over the rather boring cracks…

The Dons fans could cheer themselves up in the second half however – Dale Roberts was only yards away and well within earshot of some rather loud abuse from the Dons support, chants of ‘Where were you when Terry scored?’ and absolutely nowhere for the goalkeeper to hide, after his girlfriends rather public indiscretion with his former team-mate Paul Terry. If you’ve never seen Dale Roberts, consider this. John Terry has been beaten a few times with the ugly stick, and his brother resembles him if crossed with a slightly retarded pit bull. Now imagine the sort of guy who would make Paul Terry seem a looker, and you’re half way there…

Not that Roberts had anything else to do but listen to the good-natured ribbing… The Dons started the second half in pretty much the same manner as they did the first. This might have worked at Southport where the luck went our way, but tonight nothing was going for the Dons. Despite this the defence were holding firm… and by ‘the defence’ I mean Yakubu and Johnson. Yakubu in particular was solid, real no-nonsense defending at times, on several occasions having to recover after his initial clearance was gifted to the opposition by a lacklustre midfield. As for the full backs – I mentioned before Jackson was learning a hard lesson, and Andre Blackman, despite admittedly getting stuck in, seemed to spoil his hard work losing possession following one touch too many on rampaging runs into the opposition half.

It was slightly frustrating watching Andre, as there wasn’t much wrong with the performance except in the detail. Like Jackson, when he gets his positional sense cracked and learns to distribute the ball at the right time, he’ll be fine. It is slightly annoying to hear people accuse him of being greedy with the ball, it’s actually a blessing to have a player who feels comfortable running at opponents (especially ones who scare so easily…), and hopefully it won’t be too long before he starts to realise when he’s running down a blind alley and becomes the devastating force we know he can be. Having said that he did pick up a rather unfortunate booking before later firing the ball into the stand following conceding a throw. Fortunately, the referee saw it as a misguided attempt to speed up returning the ball to the opposition rather than any petulance, yet it didn’t exactly endear him to the home support. Still, in my experience these provincial types don’t normally need much of an excuse to hurl abuse at a Blackman…

When the goal came it was the sort of incident that makes you want to storm the referees room en mass to recover your travelling and ticket expenses from his wallet. And if he didn’t have enough to cover all of us, I’m sure the still thriving slave market in certain parts of the world would have appreciated a bit of fresh blood… The incident that started this course of events should really have finishing with Rushden’s Howe trudging down the tunnel in disgrace, having thrown an arm in Blackmans direction. The referee managed to make a bit of a meal of the incident, but it seemed certain a red card would follow… in fact for the first time that evening I felt comfortable, knowing the man advantage would at least secure a point. Yet eventually he had a quick word with the culprit… then let him off completely.

Of course the Dons managed to make a mess of the resulting free-kick, and somehow conceded one themselves… which was taken very quickly and nowhere near the incident (something the Dons had been pulled up for all evening long), finding its way to Howe in the right channel about twenty yards out. As the Dons stood off, he hit one across Brown that seemed to do something strange in the air, dipping over the keeper before finding the net via bar and post.

As I said before, this kind of blow is normally easier to take knowing the Dons were playing poorly, but the opposition had really given them a run for their money in the crap stakes, Finding ourselves a goal down following this type of incident was really tough to take. The Dons attempts come back into the game only seemed to end up resulting in Rushden counter attacks which were fortunately wasted as frequently as they were presented.

In the absence of Ricky Wellard and with no Lee Minshull to fall back on (and boy could we have done with him in the last few minutes…), Toks was eventually replaced with Reece Jones. To be fair Jones deserved a chance to show what he could do, but you get the impression that it was more for the experience than any realistic expectation he would make an impact. Jones will come good for us, with a little hard work and a lot of patience, but the pace of the game seemed to take him by surprise from the off. 

Eventually, one of the Dons few shining lights in Christian Jolley started to get a grip on the game. Rushden had little answer to him on the left, the only disappointment being his team mates inability to feed the ball to him with greater regularity. Jolley had replaced Jon Main, and I have to say I felt sorry for Mainy on the night, he had little impact on the game and it was an obvious call to bring on the pace and width of Jolley, but as a striker he got little decent service from his colleagues and it can’t be all that fun to endure that for sixty minutes before being hauled off for the fourth game in a row.

While Jolley gave the ball away (no one was immune to that on the night), he also provided two wonderful balls into the box from the left that were begging to be put away by someone, only for the ball to ricocheted around the box before somehow ending up in the grateful hands of Roberts. Four minutes of injury time were played, although Rushden had realised they weren’t going to score again and had one eye on the clock well before then. This reached its nadir when the referee ordered Corcoran from the field for treatment, yet allowed the Rushden man to hang around on the pitch for an age before finally yellow carding him, much to the anger of those in blue as time ticked away.

To be fair to the referee he had been very much in charge earlier in the evening, and only lost control when he blew his whistle at around 7.45 and allowed the game to begin – we would have had a decent time together if he hadn’t bothered… Fortunately he had added time on for the Corcoran incident, enough in fact to allow him to turn down a huge Wimbledon penalty appeal – and to be fair to him it was the sort you appeal for knowing he will only give it to make up for some earlier injustice… and those who read my Southport report will know what I think about that! It was very much a corner though, which explained why the referee gave a goal kick…

The final whistle went, which allowed Roberts his own personal moment of triumph and meant we had to endure this gurning oaf pumping his fists and wagging his jug ears in our general direction. I’m sure that went a long way to killing a few personal demons, at least until he woke in the middle of the night, noticed the cold empty side of the bed and remembered once again how small a man he really is. Well, we can only hope…

On another day we would come out of this type of game with a point. There were periods of the match when the Dons seemed unable to string more that two passes together, but the opposition were equally weak. They may have managed to get the ball into our box more than we did theirs, but for all their territorial advantage the hosts had the nervous manner of a side yet to claim a win. They were there for the taking, but Wimbledon put in the sort of shift that was way below recent performances in terms of quality. If they could have captured just a hint of what they showed during the second half of the Tamworth game it would have been a different story. Digging deep and earning points when you haven’t played well, even if you don’t particularly deserve to, was probably the difference between a play off place and upper mid table for us last term, and it will be again this year.

And yet… despite the poor performance, despite the negatives, it was just only ninety minutes. Two big games await this weekend, two winnable games. Lets not set ourselves any targets, but things could look a lot brighter come Monday evening.

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