Tag Archives: Lee Minshull

The Anonymous Don’s Summer Squad Review Part III – Midfield

Part three of the summer squad review focuses on the midfield, where Brown has assembled a core of talented young footballers…

REECE JONES

Reece Joined the club last summer, and looked impressive during preseason, prompting this blogger to comment that on technical ability alone he looked as good as any midfielder we had at the club. Reece was probably quite unfortunate to have made his debut in a tough away fixture at Rushden, thrown on when Brown had limited options, and seeing the ball consistently thumped over his head, the game passing him by.

The next time we saw Reece in first team action, he was once again called upon in the midst of an injury crisis against Eastbourne, and really impressed most Dons regulars with a proactive display in which he was unlucky not to get himself on the score sheet. Reece was rewarded for his patience with a start against Mansfield, although he saw plenty of action in the county cups, and had a short spell on loan at Kingstonian.

You would expect Reece to be shipped out again this season, maybe to a BSS club, or once again back up the first team, but I expect in a forty-six game season with associated cup games there would be scope for Reece to gain more first team experience before the end of the season.

BRENDAN KIERNAN

Brendan stepped up to the first team from Marcus Gayle’s reserve/development squad, and quickly earned a debut in the televised game at Crawley, a rare positive on a disappointing night for the Dons. Brendan possesses quick feet and plenty of pace, and has shown the potential to develop into a first team player. You would expect Brendan to make a few substitute appearances next term, as an impact players his contributions are more noticeable than Reece Jones, for example.

Yet Brendan’s performances during preseason have shown, as you would expect of a young player, he still has a lot to learn. It sometimes takes a while for a football brain to develop alongside the talent, and Brendan was found guilty of trying to make too much of an impression, overplaying, taking that one too many touches when releasing the ball quicker would have benefited the team. Yet this is something he’ll learn given more and more game time, and we look forward to seeing more of this exciting prospect over the coming twelve months.

LEE MINSHULL

Lee is a different sort of midfielder compared to some of the other players we have in our squad, but one most supporters would like to see more of. Lee brings a considerable physical presence to the team – the positives and negatives were shown early in his Dons career, with his unfortunate sending off on his debut quickly followed by a powerful header against Eastbourne and his first goal for the club.

Yet physical presence is not a property that will allow you to walk into this Dons side, and ignoring his physical presence reveals a midfielder similar to more diminutive colleagues in terms of technical ability. While Lee might not be an automatic first pick, his general flexibility (particularly his ability to fill in defensively) means he will see plenty of action from the bench.

SAMMY MOORE

Terry Brown has regularly moaned about the lack of goals he gets from midfield, yet he can have no such complaints with Sammy Moore’s contribution last term… seven goals from thirty starts, pretty much one in four, and would have certainly got himself into double figures had he not suffered a serious injury.

The injury itself demonstrated the other side of Moore’s game, one that the Dons missed in his absence despite promotion form in the Conference, and will be invaluable in the Football League. Moore threw himself into a 40-60 challenge, the force of which dislocated his knee. Sammy has made an impressive recovery to take part in preseason, but will still have to wait for a chance to return as an automatic starter.

JAMES MULLEY

James Mulley’s arrival took us all by surprise, I don’t think any of us were expecting him to make the impact he did given his background, the fact he had been at Hayes but hadn’t played much. Yet once over an unconvincing half game at right back, Mulley really started to shine… immediately in the case of his twenty-five yard effort in the second half of that Hayes game.

Mulley probably would have continued to have played a key role in our promotion campaign, had he not been unfortunately sent off at Crawley… unfortunate because the challenge just didn’t need to be made in stoppage time, and because it reduced the input he had in our run-in. Still, Mulley rounded off the destruction of Fleetwood with a tidy finish to cap off the goal of the night, and looked the best player on the pitch when coming on at Eastlands (although tiring opponents may have helped).

Yet Mulley funds himself starting the season behind Yussuff and Wellard in the pecking order, and competing with Sammy Moore when fully fit. A sign of our strength in depth maybe, but frustrating for the individuals not able to play an immediate role in our return to the league.

MAX PORTER

I suppose the easiest way of replacing Steven Gregory was to simply sign his England C team-mate from last season… although its unfair to label Porter as a replacement for Gregory, particularly as Porter was signed a month before there was any suggestion Gregory might leave. But having filled Gregory’s old position in midfield, comparisons are going to be made…

While Porter might not have the same range of passing his predecessor had, he adds to the team in different ways. He is certainly much stronger in the challenge, and added bonus in a position where helping out defensively when things go wrong is an important secondary requirement. I suppose the big question we have now is who will play that role if Porter is ever unavailable?

RICKY WELLARD

This time twelve months ago, Ricky faced perhaps the most important season in his career, facing up to the prospect of forcing his way into the Dons Conference side. It’s fair to say around Christmas time that things weren’t entirely going to plan, despite playing well on occasion, Ricky just wasn’t consistent enough, and found himself out of the side as a result.

Yet Terry Brown decided what Ricky needed was a change of scenery, and shipped him off on loan to Cambridge for a month. Not only did Ricky get to start regularly, he was rated very highly by the Cambridge fans and staff alike. Ricky returned a much more confident player, a changed man almost, putting in a number of outstanding displays including running the game on his return with the Dons to the Abbey Stadium, a performance that earned him a standing ovation from the home fans.

That Ricky started against Crawley on Friday night says he is the man right now as far as Brown is concerned, the shirt is his to lose. Yet like last season the Dons faithful may need some convincing that Ricky is good enough for the division he is playing in, having finally convinced doubters he was good enough for the Conference, he needs to repeat the trick in League Two.

RASHID YUSSEFF

Toks was the perfect example of the sort of professional TB is looking to recruit last term. Coming down from Gillingham, he didn’t immediately command a place in the starting lineup, yet there was no fuss from Yusseff, despite the fact he seemed destined to be a perennial substitute (Toks early performances from the bench were superb, his first few starts unconvincing).

Eventually winning his starting role towards the end of the season, Toks looks set to be a key player for the Dons next term. A technically brilliant left footed midfielder with an eye for goal, having scored six league goals in twenty-one starts last term, that will come in more than handy if he can reproduce that scoring rate in the Dons return to league football.

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Eastbourne Borough 2 AFC Wimbledon 3

I do like to be beside the seaside, especially when it ends with the Dons topping the table…

This was the sort of away game that makes you wish every game could be like this… a million miles from slogging up the M1 in midweek to watch crap. As soon as I set foot off the train I knew this would be different. For a start, I’d heeded a two-day weather forecast and therefore found myself clad in a waterproof top that was earning its money, if only to hold all the sweat in. Fortunately, this was one of those very rare away trips that involved an overnight stay, so I had the chance to change clothes and grab a quick beer in my sea-front hotel before jumping in a taxi to the ground.

The reason for the luxurious travel arrangements was down to the first appearance at a Dons game by Mrs Anonymous Don since Maidenhead at home almost two seasons ago… a fixture notable for the opening of the Strank Stand extension (which we sat in), a 4-1 home victory…. oh, and the first appearance in a Dons shirt of our current captain. You have to wonder where we would be right now without Danny Kedwell. Would we still be scrapping in the BSS? It’s possible… Jon Main’s goals may have taken us most of the way there, but Kedwells input was huge, as was his contribution last season when we couldn’t rely on Main.

Speaking of JM, he found himself on the bench for this one after an ineffective start to the campaign. Whether this is just him getting used to the new system or not, I don’t know. I mentioned in the Rushden report how isolated he looked. For all his hard work tracking back, he is being asked to perform a role that Christian Jolley is just far more effective at. Young Jolley got his chance from the start this time around, things may be a bit different when Newport roll into town on Monday, if Main starts we need not read any more into this than he needed a rest…

In Ricky Wellards absence, we saw the first start from Lee Minshull after his rather unfortunate suspension, and judging by his performance I think he has been missed. His passing was as crisp as Gregory or Moore, yet he brings a physical presence we miss when he isn’t there. I don’t want to overstate his size, it’s not a key factor in his game… but it helps. Lee managed to get himself on the score sheet, yet also managed to give away the free kick that helped the hosts back into the game…

As far as Eastbourne were concerned, you couldn’t wish for a nicer place to go or nicer club to visit. As far as the game was concerned, we faced the divisions top scorers and they showed their early attacking potential – it’s great to come across a side with limited resources who don’t just ‘park the bus’… I’m sure they would have created a whole lot more had Jamie Taylor not found the deck more often than I seem to remember him doing when he played for us, and Richard Pacquette reminded everyone he is only in the game for the pay packet.

As the half progressed Wimbledon came into it more and more, once Kedwell opened the scoring with a near post effort that seemed to pass through Rikki Banks in the home goal. If the Dons used up a bit of fortune with that effort, the hosts rode theirs for the rest of the half, with some woeful finishing capping off wonderful passing moves as Wimbledon threatened to run riot. I’d love to write more about the half, but I spent most of it explaining to the missus what was going on; and why, no, the man standing behind us was by no means an expert despite shouting quite loudly!

The early second half followed a similar pattern to the first. This time the Dons managed to hit the woodwork twice before finally adding to the score, first a Minshull floated cross/shot effort bouncing clear from the top corner via the inside of the post, then Steven Gregory smacking one off the bar, all in the space of a few seconds. Finally, Luke Moore found Lee Minshull at the far post, who made no mistake with his header to double the Dons lead, and with Luton losing, send us top of the league.

Of course an Eastbourne win would have taken them top, and despite the odds looking like they were firmly against them, they set about clawing their way back into the game. They managed it, to their credit, thanks to a couple of well worked free kicks. I could highlight the soft underbelly that was the Dons defending for both of these goals, yet that can wait for another day. Defending like that will come back to haunt the Dons if it becomes habit, we can only hope for an improvement as the season progresses (with fingers very much crossed…)

The day had been building up to one moment. Eastbourne had helped out by pushing for the win themselves, which left space for Sam Hatton to pick up the ball deep in his own half. He cut through Eastbourne before picking out Danny Kedwells run and threading the ball through to him. The captain rounded Banks, before sidefooting home, sending AFC Wimbledon top of the non-League game for the first time. Watching from the side, what a wonderful view it was watching those Dons fans behind the goal jumping around – I haven’t seen celebrations like that for some time…

I missed what must have been an interesting train ride home, but it was worth it to spend an evening watching over the water from a pub, supping a pint, just enjoying the moment. In 24 hours time the Dons may relinquish top spot, and may not regain it for some time. But at that moment… well, it didn’t seem to matter much.

Apologies for the trunkated nature of report for what was an action packed game, very much more to follow in the second part of the Dons Bank Holiday double when they return to action tomorrow against Newport…

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AFC Wimbledon 2 Charlton Athletic 0 – A (Friendly) Match Report

Man, that was hot. I really wasn’t built for weather like that, and judging by the news that the club have already sold out initial stock of the new shirt in XXXL sizes, I can’t have been the only fatty suffering in those conditions. Fortunately, our all new professional Dons are a super fit  group of young men, and put on a fantastic show against… well I don’t want to use the description ‘League One opponents’, as Charlton supplemented their bare bones squad with a number of trialists and young players, and you would hope for their sake that the eleven they finally settle on to start their season show a lot more quality than those on display here, albeit in a glorified training game.

Still, you can only beat whats put in front of you, and the Dons own group of youngsters and trialists put in the sort of performance you just don’t expect to see at this early stage of pre-season, full of energy and understanding that belied the fact they had only been together for a couple of weeks. In fact, the scoreline could have been even more embarrassing for the visitors had the Dons put away a few more of their chances, especially in the first half.

After a slow start the Dons started to show intent, mainly through the front three of new skipper Danny Kedwell flanked by Luke Moore on the right and Main on the left. The new formation asks more questions of players like Jon Main, and it was a (pleasant) surprise to see him back helping out Michael Noone, the first half left back, on a number of occasions. Yet Main was also the Dons prime threat, having a couple of chances breaking down the left channel, the best of which appeared to be heading in despite Charlton keeper Elliot until a desperate goalline clearance from an unidentified Charlton player (I was at the other end of the field – as per usual!) hacked the ball off the line.

The first half was the slower of the two, and Charlton should really have lead going into the interval (although this would have been harsh on the Dons first half XI). Former Reading forward Gunnar Thorvaldsson nodded past Jack Turner, only for his shot to hit Brett Johnson covering on the line with the entire goal to aim at from six yard out.

The Dons really picked up the pace in the second half, helped by the introduction of Andre Blackman and Christian Jolley down the left. Blackman looked very much like the most naturally talented footballer on the field, which isn’t a surprise as if it hadn’t been for his lack of discipline he would still be at Bristol City. Hell, he would probably still be at one of the Premier League clubs that kicked him out instead of preparing for a season in the BSP with the Dons. Jolley, on the other hand, is all about pace and enthusiasm. He may spend a little time on the bench next season, and when he does get on he might well be the poster boy for the phrase ‘the Inconsistency of Youth’, but in the long run he has the building blocks to turn into a real gem for us.

Yet it wasn’t Blackman or Jolley that immediately caught my eye, it was big Lee Minshull in midfield. You sensed most Dons fans are wishing him to do well, he really is the sort of imposing midfielder we so desperately needed last year and I found myself wishing for it to work out for him over the next year.  After an unfortunate injury to Mark Nwokeji (which fortunately doesn’t seem to be as bad as first feared while being carted off on a stretcher) Minsull completed the game up front.

Before this, the Dons had taken the lead. A set piece fell to former Barnet captain Ismail Yakubu in the box, who switched sides with some clever footwork only to telegraph his shot a little, allowing Elliot to make a save. Fortunately for the Dons, trialist Javonne Morroy was on hand to tap home and give the home side a richly deserved lead. And it was Minshull who doubled the tally, after some great work on the left by Jolley and Blackman. Jolley set Blackman free, and the full-back blistering pace took him away from his faultering marker. Cutting in from the left it seemed likely Blackman would finish himself, but instead he intelligently squared for Minshull to crash home at the far post and put the game beyond the visitors.

All in, a convincing victory, and a morale booster at this early stage. Next weeks visit of Millwall will be a tougher test, as will the arrival of the Arsenal kids a week before the season starts  But you get the impression we will learn more about our rebuilt squad in games such as Maidenhead or Woking (ironically mentioned here as I won’t be able to attend either…), and there is a lot of hard work before Southport. Perhaps all yesterday did was settle the nerves of those who had seen a lot of names they han’t heard before this sumer come in, when other clubs in our division are spending thousands on proven talent. The amount of quality floating round as free agents at the moment suggests this might just be the right time to put together a team on a buget, the quality of some of our triallists yesterday showed that – especially Fraser Franks at centre half.

To sum up – the Dons are back!

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