Tag Archives: Lewis Taylor

Conference Score – Saturday 16th January ’10

AFC Wimbledon    2 (2)    Elder (2), Taylor (22)

Mansfield    0 (0)

Attn: 3584

Nathan Elder grabbed a debut goal after only 117 seconds against playoff rivals Mansfield, as the Dons took the points on a day when most other contenders took another weather break. Elder also had a strike ruled out later in the half before laying on an assist for Lewis Taylor to grab a second, and Wimbledon could have had more in the second half against a disjointed looking Mansfield side.

Elsewhere in the division, the wheels haven’t quite fallen of at Oxford, but they certainly don’t seem to be the dominant force they appeared earlier in the year, slipping to a 0-1 home defeat at the hands of Tamworth. York predictably overcame Hayes 4-1 in the only other game that affected the promotion contenders that didn’t fall foul of the weather.

At the bottom, Ebbsfleet are now in real trouble slipping to a 1-2 home defeat against our gritty Trophy opponents Altrincham, the Fleet have now played more games than anyone at the bottom. Forest Green leapt a couple of places beating Gateshead 1-0 at The New Lawn, leaving their opponents in the bottom four. Eastbourne Borough pulled away slightly after coming away from Cambridge with the points.

Dons match report to follow shortly…

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AFC Wimbledon 0 Kidderminster Harriers 1 – A Match Report

Ok, so I’m going to get my excuses in early. In fact I’m going to get them in before I’ve even written the report, but I’ve been feeling a bit unwell, so this match report might read a little, erm, different to my usual efforts. Because of this I will try to keep it short, which will be of no consolation to those of you reading this on Thursday morning. Oh, and sorry about the lack of photos, I left my camera at home…

After seven games unbeaten, it had got to the point where I had forgotten what it feels like to lose a game. Even Oxford was a fairly positive experience – we created a lot of chances, missed a penalty, and were genuinely unlucky. On Saturday we faced a genuine rival for a playoff place (and lets not talk ourselves down here – we are in that race as long as we are among the large group of clubs locked together on a similar amount of points). In the past when I have spoken about our young team having an off day, about experienced Conference sides coming to Kingsmeadow and doing a job on us and going home with the points – this is what happened, and the only surprise was it has taken fourteen games for it to happen.

It was one of those grim miserable autumn days, overcast with a cold wind, the sort of weather I now refer to as ‘Tamworth Weather’. And there really was no reason to doubt the Dons, they started well enough forcing a few corners down the right for Hussey to swing in. I can only imagine Hussey practices taking corners on a pitch that is about ten yards narrower than Kingsmeadow, the ease at which he curls them in at the near post straight to that first defender…

It was the visitors though who had the first shot on goal, Matthew Barnes-Homer picking the ball up twenty five yards out of the left and skidding an effort low into James Pullens arms. Then on fifteen minutes both sides created decent opportunities within a minute. Kidderminster’s John Finnigan found himself with a clear run on goal, but Pullen stood up well to make the save.

The ball was immediately delivered to the other end of the pitch where Montague and Taylor combined on the right for Taylor to play in Hussey, clear on the left. The exciting fullback was quickly closed down, only to cut inside and hit a right foot shot towards the top right corner. The ball took a deflection on its way which slowed the ball enough to allow keeper Dean Coleman to get across and claw it away for a corner.

It took another fifteen minutes for Wimbledon to threaten the Kidderminster goal once more. This time Hussey was the creator, hitting in another corner from the right that swung in, missed the big men at the near post and surprising Sam Hatton hanging around on the six yard line. Hatton had to lean back to guide his header towards goal, unfortunately this had the effect of making it look like he had cushioned it back to the keeper.

Hatton was in the right place at the right time at the other end seconds latter after a Daryl Knights effort was diverted away from goal giving the visitors a corner on the right. It was well struck, Husseyesque almost, and completely caught Jamie Pullen out. As the ball headed towards the net, blown in by the strong wind, Hatton stretched his neck just enough to flick it over his own bar and away for another corner.

The second delivery wasn’t cleared properly by the Don’s defence, falling to an unidentified Harriers player lurking on the edge of the box, who hit a low shot through a crowd of players. Fortunately Jamie Pullen was alert to the danger, getting down well to parry away before Adjei thumped clear. There seemed no clear favourite still as both sides tried to get forward, trading chances in what had become a watchable game.

A sign of things to come came five minutes before the break, when Barnes-Homer sneaked a stride ahead of Inns and hammered in a shot that would have severely tested James Pullen had it not flown straight into his arms. A the home side created another couple of half chances after, a Taylor cross shot from the right that the keeper did well to collect at ground level, and a mishit Luke Moore shot following a Taylor knockdown. Luke Moore has shown more than most creativity-wise this season but hasn’t really got hold of his shots since giving us perhaps too high expectations of him with his thirty yarder against Salisbury.

Half time came with the sort of mass change of ends not seen at Kingsmeadow this season. However several hundred extra fans in the KRE, or half of the KRE to be precise, didn’t have the effect of improving the atmosphere as you may have expected. With 3600-plus in the ground, it didn’t quite work. Plus the huge gaps on the Tempest didn’t seem to be filled by those JS regulars looking to take the opportunity to move there… were stewards still preventing non Tempest ticket holders standing there? If that was the case, something wasn’t quite right there…

The Dons players engaged in a quick warm up drill before the start of the second half, involving step ladders and cones. Sadly Matthew Barnes-Homer had slightly more speed and mobility than they did, so when the game restarted the Don’s defence stood like statues when he received the ball with his back to goal. Despite a clumsy turn, no challenge was forthcoming allowing the striker to slot past Pullen into the bottom right hand corner to give his team the lead.

Wimbledon’s response to this was instant and predictable in the context of the game – a mishit Moore shot straight at the keeper. But five minutes later they created and missed their best chance all afternoon. Some great work by Danny Kedwell saw him play in Lewis Taylor down the right channel. The ball came fast to Taylor, who got the luck of the bounce to take him past his man only to screw his shot well wide of the near post when eight yards out with the goal at him mercy.

I say the previous chance was the closest Wimbledon came to scoring, they did have the ball in the net on fifty-five minutes. Whether this really counted as a chance depended on your view of the event and how much contact Danny Kedwell had made with the goalkeeper, as a high ball in was dropped before being bundled in… Well, I got a little excited about it anyway.

Lewis Taylor had another decent chance at the other end, flicking the ball over the keeper and unfortunately the bar from a Hussey cross, and at the other end Brian Smikle could have doubled Kidderminster’s lead with a tad more composure, but to be honest the game petered out from the last twenty minutes onwards. The introduction of Main didn’t help. I’m not sure whether its fair to say Main was on a different wavelength to anyone else on the pitch, but a neutral viewing may well have wondered whether he was trying to play the same sport as everyone else. As usual he ran, he put in effort, but he’s nothing like the Jon Main of last year. I hope this doesn’t come across as abuse, but like Sanchez lived off past glories right up to the Premier League days, there is a danger that Jon Main could hang around making the odd cameo for months to come.

Hopefully he will put one away, but it seems like we need more than that right now. Just a good performance would do. Replacing Montague with him might have seemed a good idea at the time, but the horror of Main latest effort was just too much to bear. At least we know Monty has goals in him, Main could literally be still out there on the Kingsmeadow turf, on his own, but you’ll guess he probably still wouldn’t have found the net.

Is it time to give one of our younger strikers (i.e. Rapson) a go on the bench, allowing Main to drop down to the Reserves for a couple of weeks. Normally you would say our first teamers wouldn’t learn anything in the Suburban League, but Main needs to go back to basics. He almost needs to remember his entire game once more.

Its one thing having a player on the pitch who may as well not have been there, but towards the end of the game the referee revealed he had a few quid on the outcome himself, refusing to give free kicks to home sides way as well as punishing Dons players for heinous crimes like jumping for the ball, or having their shirts pulled.

It kind of summed up the afternoon though. However, on a day when nothing much went right, at least we made a game of it right to the end. We were never going to score, but Kidderminster were forced to keep it up for the full ninety. I actually stopped taking notes for the last few minutes (not that I missed much) as I felt so disappointed with the performance.

But as Terry said, young players will make mistakes. Whether this dip in performance stretches further depends on our next game at Forest Green, who coincidentally have all of a sudden remembered how to win…

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AFC Wimbledon 4 Histon 0 – A Match Report

Only seventy-two in attendance from Histon today, and apparently a few Dons fans mocking them for this. Well, let me remind you that Histon are a village club, to have seventy-two of them make the trip is superb, as impressive as the couple of hundred who made the short trip from Crawley on Tuesday, comparable with the six-hundred odd that Cambridge United brought down. As there were so few I couldn’t make out many of their chants, although I did catch a quick burst of ‘You’ve got no history’…. Seriously, what does that even mean?!

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, it was a good day for watching football… although I say that every Saturday, it’ll probably be similar temperatures next week for Kidderminster. In my mind of course it’s October so it will be single figure temperatures and dark by 4.15… Despite the pleasant weather we only had just shy of 3,400 turn out, a quite poor attendance given recent attendances. Are there one or two of us who only show up for ex-League clubs?

At least the lack of congestion at 2.50pm meant nearly all were in the ground to see the Dons make a lightning start, seconds into the game Kedwell picked up the ball on the left edge of the area and tried to bend one around ex-Dons keeper Danny Naisbitt, his shot appearing to take the keeper by surprise and he watched with some relief as the ball flew wide of the right post. Naisbitt looked happy to be back at Kingsmeadow, even if he didn’t always see eye to eye with some Dons fans.

histonh 002Although the Dons were looking pretty good on the ball, nothing much really happened until twelve minutes in, where the game well and truly took off after a mental sixty seconds. Lewis Taylor picked up the ball in the Histon half and headed for goal. He seemed to have missed his opportunity to get a shot off,  but moved his feet well and struck from the edge of the box. His effort was deflected and seemed to have caught Naisbitt out, but the keeper stuck up a hand and got fingertips to it. This only slowed the balls progression towards goal, and the Tempest End were in full celebration mode until a Histon man appeared from nowhere to hack the ball off the line.

This lead to a Histon counter attack, led by Danny Wright on the left, He looked up and found Josh Simpson all alone in the centre having got clear of Brett Johnson. Simpson had to control the ball before snapping a shot off, and in this time Johnson managed to get back around him and pulled off a magnificent last ditch challenge. Wimbledon went forward again, Jon Main receiving the ball on the left tight to the touch-line.

Instead of crossing, Main took aim for the far corner, his strike well kept out by Naisbitt. Yet the Histon custodian had only managed to parry the ball into the air for Luke Moore to side-foot over him and into an empty net. One-Nil to the Dons, scored by Moore and the assist must go to Johnson for his fantastic block that prevented the scoreline being reversed.

Jon Main had been given a starting place, maybe his last chance to impress while Terry Brown is still ‘experimenting’. Fifteen minute in he received the ball down the right channel and powered into the box. He had a couple of chances to get a shot away before he found himself bearing down on Naisbitt. He seemed to be pushed as he tried to get his shot away, but the referee decided no penalty, and Naisbitt forced his shot round the post for a corner.

Histon were not prepared to roll over for Wimbledon just yet though. On twenty minutes a long ball saw Knight-Percival get behind Sam Hatton at the far post, he lifted his header over James Pullen but off target, allowing the ball to bounce in the six yard box for the Dons keeper to collect. It was end to end for a while as Danny Kedwell caught sight of goal on the edge of the Histon box and stabbed an effort that may have caused Naisbitt more problems had it not been straight at him. Micheal Frew then repeated Kedwell’s effort at the other end for Histon.

histonh 003Wimbledon were playing well, using the ball in midfield for a change, especially Kennedy Adjei on the left and Steven Gregory just in front of the back four. The problem was the final ball just wasn’t there. This hasn’t been a problem for Wimbledon who have started the season at home creating numerous chances for our midfielders to waste. Histon on the other hand were playing a direct game that suited their players, and at least this was creating half chances for them to miss.

On the half hour Histon had a short spurt of pressure, beginning with a corner from the left that saw Jamie Barker unmarked eight yards out, but he could only divert the pacy delivery over the bar. A minute later Sam Hatton gave away a needless free kick in dangerous territory, which although being eventually diverted over the bar saw Terry Brown (who had been warning his players about giving away fouls) to shout “They aren’t hurting us (with their backs to goal), these (free-kicks) ARE hurting us! Stay on your feet!”.

And moments later the Dons back four lost their shape for the first and only time during the game when Sam Hatton was pulled out of position allowing a two on one break down the left. Josh Simpson took the ball himself, slightly over-running the ball allowing Pullen to nick the ball away from him.

Ironically it was Wimbledon who had the numbers on their next break as Matthew Langston collapsed in an extravagant heap while going high with his feet with Kedwell. The referee was having none of it, allowing Taylor to carry the ball on with Kedwell and Main in support. Unfortunately Taylors final ball was shocking allowing one of the remaining two defenders to get a foot in. Taylor seemed to be having difficulties releasing the ball, having previously seen crosses from both flanks sail harmlessly over the crossbar, yet still had a very big part to play in this game.

Histon went on to create maybe their two best chances of the game. Knight-Percival gave Hatton a little nudge to get himself goalside, and with the referee waving play on found Micheal Frew all alone in the centre with the simple task of tapping past Pullen and levelling the scores. Fortunately for The Dons, but perhaps summing up Histons day, Frew somehow managed to strike the floor rather than the ball and ended up taking an embarrassing tumble over it. Dons fans may have taken a deep breath expecting the worse, but were able to expel it with a nervous laugh instead.

histonh 005Minutes later Hatton’s attempt to deflect a cross from the left ended up unluckily falling to Danny Wright, who made the mistake of steadying himself before firing off a shot. This gave the split second Brett Johnson required to get a block in for a corner. Johnson and Lorraine were so assured this game that you wonder how anyone ever manages to score against Wimbledon, both of them brilliant in the air, take the ball from forwards with ease and know where to put themselves when a shot threatens the Dons goal.

Just before half-time, the Dons had a chance to double their lead as Hatton and Main found space at the far post. Unfortunately as Hatton moved onto the ball from the right and went to pull the trigger, Jon Main following the path of the ball got a foot in first, lifting the ball over Naisbitt, yet sadly not only was the ball heading wide, but it wouldn’t have had the legs to reach goal anyway. Main had been bombing around the park, but except for the incident that could have led to a penalty, this incident really summed up his participation – almost more of a hinderance than a help.

The Histon players returned to the pitch, and Naisbitt seemed to hang around on the half-way line for a while until the Wimbledon players returned to the pitch. As warm applause rang out around the ground, Naisbitt approached the Tempest. Maybe he had told his team-mates he was popular here? Despite that he got a few cheeky chants requesting to know who in fact he was, for which he applauded the fans, who responded in kind. Well, time is a great healer…

The first ten minutes of the half was the only period that Wimbledon looked like they would concede. I’m not sure what Brown had said to them during the break, but it seemed to make them over confident to the point that effort was no longer required. Brown himself was screaming at them to find themselves again. Despite the weight of pressure and dominance of possession, Histon only managed one effort on goal, a Frew snapshot which Pullen did well to get down to parry. Unfortunately Wright then blundered in as the keeper gathered, despite having no chance of playing the ball he put a real stone age challenge that kept Pullen down. Despite this, the referee neglected to show a card. I can only presume he had forgotten them, as he managed to make it through the game without showing any, a rare occurence these days even when taking The Dons superb disciplinary record into account.

I said Histon put on pressure for the first ten minutes of the half, and there was almost a symbolic change in the games momentum that lead from a Histon corner in the fifty-fifth minute. The corner was defended well and cleared as far as Jon Main, who beat a Histon player to the ball in his own half. He flicked the ball to Luke Moore who headed across the half way line centrally before playing in Lewis Taylor down the left.

histonh 006Taylor allowed Chris Hussey to take over while moving to a position just outside the box. Hussey found the bye-line and sent over a wonderful deep cross that was nodded back into the box for Kedwell. A defender managed to nod this half away but straight into the path of Taylor who smashed it back from ten yards into the right side of the net, giving Naisbitt absolutely no chance. A brilliant counter attack by Wimbledon capped by a stunning finish… by a midfielder! Yes I know Luke Moore was technically taking up a midfield position loosely based on the left, but Moore is more of a striker, and you would expect him to have netted a couple so far. Therefore Lewis Taylor became the man who broke the Dons midfielders scoring duck.

Straight after the goal, Brett Johnson was replaced by Alan Inns. Johnson looked as though he had picked up a knock, so lets hope he will be ok for the Rushden game on Tuesday. The Dons really took over from this point, Histon looked a little lost, and Steven Gregory took example almost scoring the goal of the season in the process. Picking the ball up on half way, he beat his man to the ball and seeing no obvious passing opportunity, he beat the next man too. On the edge of the area he seemed to realise where he was, and knocked past a third man, unfortunately overhitting it and allowing the alert Naisbitt to nip in and steal it off him.

The removal of a glum looking Main for Ross Montague and a tiring Taylor being replaced by Derek Duncan sandwiched a Histon half chance, Pierre-Joseph Du Bois heading into the side netting. As for Main, he looked like a player who knows he may not find any first team action for some time. A spell in the reserves may allow him to find his scoring touch (unless he has a ‘no reserve’ clause in his contract), or perhaps more valuable take a spell on loan to a Blue Square South club.

Alan Inns was in no nonsense mode. Everything in the air he gobbled up, and everything on the ground he met with force, challenges designed to make sure the ball went dead and our goal was in no danger above any other priority.

Hussey was finding plenty of space down the left to show his worth to any potential suitors who may have been buried away in the stands, yet the next Dons player to get behind Histon on this flank was Kedwell, pulling back for Kennedy Adjei to blast at goal, well saved by Naisbitt to his left. But a third goal was soon coming.

histonh 008Hatton, who had a mixed performance at right back, still looked good going forward. And he had a chance to bury the demons of Tuesday nights miss when presented with an identical opportunity. This time he blasted at Naisbitt, when the ball bounced straight back to him he calmly nodded the ball to Steven Gregory who lofted it out of Naisbitts reach into the left inside netting. A wonderfully calm finish, his first goal for the club, and The Dons were now out of sight.

Moments later Hatton turned creator again, this time heading into the box on his own and finding himself hauled down as Gwillim crashed into him and sandwiched him against a team mate. This lead to Hatton’s momentum taking him well inside the area, giving referee and linesman the mistaken impression that this was where the offense had taken place. It was harsh on Gwillim as well, who had impressed me in the first half with his dangerous crossing with either foot.

Of course. I had previously told us not to expect another penalty all season, yet here we were with our seventh gifted to us in our very next game! Perhaps we will only be given spot-kicks from now on when they are in fact no such thing? Big Danny Kedwell saw a chance to add to his tally, and smashed it side footed high beyond Naisbitt’s dive into the right corner. Kedwell is no longer at the top of the scoring charts as Holdroyd netted twice for Cambridge, but ten in twelve games is a fantastic start.

The Wimbledon fans were desperate for a fifth goal yet the closest they came was from a Hussey corner on the right, whipped in with vicious spin to the near post where Inns crashed a header against the bar (which is probably still shaking as we speak). Certainly not all Dons players were on form for this game, yet key players are at the top of their game right now. Lorraine, Johnson, Gregory, Moore, Kedwell and of course the incredible Chris Hussey can win games on their own, and it is our fortune that we have these players operating in such a manner for us right now. Yet we cannot expect these players to keep it up over the course of the season, and we need one or two others to raise their own personal bar on a regular basis to be talked of in terms of playoff contenders.

Those seventy-two Histon supporters headed off into the evening, downhearted but thankful they hadn’t been beaten by more. Their organised team were beaten by a Dons outfit which may lack consistency, but has the potential to take down anyone in this division – even Oxford as we saw last month. But Histon shouldn’t have any problems this year. There are teams below them who have problems much bigger than theirs, and this combined with determined performances should see them remain in the division to visit Kingsmeadow again next term.

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AFC Wimbledon 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 2 – A Match Report

Another League One club down at Kingsmeadow last night, and if the games are this good I think we will easily get used to this Wimbledon side. Unfortunate if anything to lose last night, despite playing a side that were superior to them, the Dons looked dangerous every time they ventured forward, and only some harsh luck (or poor finishing, depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty) prevented Wimbledon troubling the scorers… nah, that doesn’t really work in a football context does it. It’s still early in pre-season, give me time!

Unfortunate then that both Brighton goals came from Dons mistakes… although you could say Wimbledon rode there luck as far as the frame of the goal went; including one mighty punt from Albions second half keeper Michael Kuipers that caught out Paul Lorraine and triallist David Wilkinson in goal before bouncing off the top of the cross bar. Of course I didn’t see the ball leave his foot, being preoccupied with tweeting my opinions to the world (perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew? Perhaps… but once again, its still my pre-season).

To bring it back to the beginning for fear of making more excuses for my own poor pre-season reporting, the day didn’t start off well for me – in fact I missed the kickoff. This was due to an early running K1 driver, and a long wait for a 131 in Kingston town centre. I only missed it by a few minutes, this was enough to be late for the team lineups, so for the second home game running I spent most of the game with no idea who was playing for the opposition, at least until one of them scored. So apologies to any Albion fans passing, yet in my defence this is a Wimbledon blog, and (cough) it is very early in the season…

bha 003Wimbledon started off brightly, with the first half chance falling to them around five minutes into the game. A ball knocked into the box was half cleared to Luke Garrard on the edge of the area who fired just over. How great it was to see Luke in a Dons shirt again, although he did seem half a step off the pace, very unlike him and probably down to being a week or so behind the rest of the squad as far as game time went, and seeing a though his primary competition for his place Jay Conroy has twice as many minutes under his belt you would have to consider him in prime position for the number two shirt by the time Luton come to town.

Brighton surged back a few minutes later when their 11 found himself in space down the right channel and smashed the ball against the centre of Wimbledon’s crossbar, the ball bouncing down and away while Wilkinson was still grasping air. Brighton didn’t quite take hold of the game though despite having the best of the possession, and it was the Dons who came closest. Derek Duncan lined up a freekick right of centre, curled it round the wall only to see the Albion keeper scramble it wide low to his left with a little help from the upright.

Later in the half a Dons foray forward seemed to be about to come to an abrupt end as the ball ran away from Elliott Godfrey, but this wasn’t picked up by any of the Brighton players nearby, and Godfrey was able to catch up with the ball and smash it right footed just wide of the right post. Despite this Albion always seemed more likely to break the deadlock, and it finally came in frustrating style on 38 minutes as Wimbledon contrived to give the ball away in their own half, the ball was fed out to the left side of the field for Kevin McLeod to drive into the box and drill beyond Wilkinson and into the bottom right corner of the net.

The second half began with eight substitutions for the visitors, and perhaps they weren’t as switched on mentally as they could have been as Wimbledon took it to the visitor shortly after the break. An excellently timed challenge from Duncan saw him carry the ball at speed down the left flank, releasing Luke Moore. In fact the speed of the attack had left Wimbledon’s strikers flagging behind, so Moore cut inside, and seeing no-one had made it forward beat his man and sent a low strike bobbling across goal and wide of Brighton’s left post.

bha 006Derek Duncan was making the left back position his own. Strong in the challenge (although not always perfectly timed… he sent a couple of Albion players flying with desperate challenges), with the engine to get himself up and down the field with pace. I’ll talk about the differences between Hussey and Duncan a little later, but it may only be Duncan’s versatility that would allow Hussey game time at all next season.

Wimbledon turned the crew as time ticked away for the starting XI to make their mark. Hatton found space wide right, and teased a dangerous ball into the box, hacked clear by a Brighton man under great pressure from Kedwell just over his own crossbar. Kedwell didn’t make a huge impact on the game but worked hard all the same, his runs sometimes going unnoticed, sometimes creating space for colleagues behind him.

His strike partner tonight, the previously mentioned Moore, found the ball at his feet much more often and clearly knows what to do with it. Very offensively minded, Moore impressed in the hole against Wycombe and showed he is equally effective playing alongside a strike partner. Perhaps the most impressive of all is his willingness to defend high up the pitch a la Kedwell, despite his lack of inches compared to towering centre halves he never gives a ball up as lost, his ability to launch himself into the air and challenge the bigger men lead to a number of balls finding touch for a Wimbledon throw when perhaps a Jon Main challenge might have seen the ball flying back towards the Wimbledon half.

As the hour mark approached it was time for the aforementioned Main to make his mark on the game and show qualities of his own. It might sound stupid compared to his goalscoring exploits of last season, but a front three of Kedwell and Moore, with Godfrey just behind, will be enough to scare the life out of the best defences we come across next term. If we then bring on Jon Main with half an hour to go, against tiring defences, it could be enough to destroy the best of them. Injuries will play a part, as will the unknown fourth striker. Bossman didn’t appear last night but I’m sure I read somewhere that he was unavailable and was due to appear against FCUM on Saturday, however any thoughts that he might come good for us eventually have been slapped back into reality by recent news reports reminding us there are dozens of strikers out there who could do the business for us straight away. How long until we see random postings on Old Centrals asking ‘…ave we singed monagew yet…?’.

bha 009So Wimbledon’s mass cull of players certainly gave the linesman some counting practice, with only Duncan, Ricky Wellard (who was quiet last night) and Bret Johnson (who reminds me of Andy Thorn for some reason) surviving. A few minutes beforehand a much more significant substitution took place, with Mark Wright taking the field. I took a deep breath as a football mercenary with Them only last season was announced… to no audible reception whatsoever.

Once we ended up with a full complement of players back on the pitch, the game resumed. And miraculously it eventually regained the same flow it had in the first, making it hugely watchable for the last twenty-five minutes or so. In fact, on 68 minutes the Tempest End broke into its first prolonged chant of the season, which spurred the game back into action. Derek Duncan was first to try his luck, now playing further up the field, when he saw his long range effort handled in the box. Referee Jamail Singh, perhaps thinking back to a first half decision when he failed to give Brighton what would have been a soft penalty following a clumsy push in the box, waved play on.

But Wimbledon were just getting started. A few minutes later a strong Hussey run down the left touchline saw him flash a shot from a tight angle just over. I remember him doing this a few times when he could have pulled the ball back for a team mate, although in those cases he did enough to force a corner. If he concentrates on getting those on target he might score that way soon. Considering my previous opinion of Duncan, I have to say if there was only one place available I would give it to Duncan. However if possible, and when the circumstances call for it, we could do a lot worse than play both of them, as they seem to complement each other pretty well.

Another strong Hussey run saw him play a decent percentage ball low and curling back towards the onrushing forwards, missed by Main and Peter Rapson (who I will imagine will go on loan to a Ryman/CS side as soon as a fourth striker is brought in, but is an exciting forward in his own right and may deserve a chance himself in the first team before the season is out). Terry Brown then bawled out Lewis Taylor for not getting himself in the box, and this advice almost paid dividends minutes later.

Before that Taylor sent Main away down the right channel, but the striker hesitated momentarily, but for long enough to allow a Brighton man time to get back and block his effort. It wasn’t long before his pace took him free of the Brighton defence in the same position once more, this time sent away by a good ball from Wellard. This time he elected to drive the ball across goal, the ball again being deflected and dribbling wide of the far post. Taylor had taken his managers advice however and just failed to reach the ball in time, stabbing wide with the goal at his mercy.

bha 013Wimbledon fashioned an equally good chance moments later when Hussey again found room on the left. Spotting Duncan pointing for where he wanted the ball, he tried to sly it in only to see it half blocked and fall behind Duncan, sitting up beautifully for Jon Main to head home, and send the Tempest End into raptures. Unusual that, for a pre-season game, and entirely unnecessary as the dust settled and a second look revealed the ball wasn’t nestling in the corner,and had in fact flown wide.

While an equaliser now seemed a certainty, time had caught up with us, and a blocked Taylor effort moments later was the last Dons chance. Frustratingly Brighton took the ball down the other end, almost killing the game but for a brave save at feet by Sebb Brown. It was only a short respite or Wimbledon, a corner in injury time that seemed certain to be cleared was in fact chested across goal by a (fortunately for him) unidentified Don, Adam Virgo making no mistake and drilling under Brown to give Brighton the win.

Still, the majority of the 1167 crowd wenthome happy after seeing a very decent Wimbledon performance against a Brighton team who I’m sure will cause a lot of problems of most teams in League Two next year. The Dons need to get down to business and score a few goals, hold on to the ball in midfield but perhaps most importantly keep the tempo high in the remaining two games, against Fulham’s non-European squad XI, and first up FCUM or the SD Cup, appropriately sponsored by Co-Op this time around. If that game is even half as good as this one, we are in for a treat. And my dislike of pre-season friendlies has been cured.

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AFC Wimbledon 0 Wycombe Wanderers 1 – A Match Report

img115Football is back! Kind of… Thinking back through my supporting life, I’ve probably been to a good sixty or seventy pre-season games, and they never fail to disappoint, so long as you have very low expectations to begin with. At least you’re normally alright for some good weather. I remember burning myself on jaunts to Bognor and Sutton a few years ago, although the Sutton incident was partly down to my own stupidity, attempting to sit on a piping hot barrier in shorts. Perhaps they should have put up a sign – Caution, barrier gets hot when exposed to direct sunlight.

No chance of that yesterday. Although warm, it was very muggy and wet, meaning I had to bring out my rainy day clothing, in other words the same old waterproof that I managed to collect a series of strangely coloured beetles on a trip to Cobham a few years back while attempting to take a short-cut back to the station. Not that it put me off. I need my football fix, becoming sick of waking up on a Saturday morning with no plans, spending hours asking each other ‘What shall we do today?’ before eventually settling on going down the pub.

Those new steps...

Those new steps...

But the Wycombe game held equal importance for me as it did for the players. Pre-season games don’t just help the players get up to speed, they help amateur reporters like myself get back up to speed. The last time I wrote a match report was my epic London Senior Cup effort on the short lived Control>Shoot blog, gratefully received by approximately a dozen Hendon fans, yet this was over two months ago. The season finished at a bad time for me, I was at the height of my writing powers, and two months of updates along the lines of ‘Erm, we signed someone today, I don’t know too much about him…’ have made me go stale.

So it was with great excitement I stepped into Kingsmeadow, partly because I’m an absolute football geek, and seeing an extra step in the John Smiths and the newly re-profiled KRE, as well as The Wall, drove my excitement levels to a factor even the release of the fixtures could not match. There was one downer – as I took my place on the terrace I noticed a portion of chips, barely touched, had been left on the ledge.

So which inconsiderate bastard left those here?

So which inconsiderate bastard left those here?

Now as those of you who know The Anonymous Don, even if just by sight will know, I have put a little bit of weight on. Now my wife has been ‘encouraging’ me to return to my formerly svelte physique over the summer, and I have been doing quite well, but the project has been hindered by the fact I need lager, curry and the like to make me feel good. Extended periods of healthy eating depress me, but I was trying to be a good boy yesterday, so I limited myself to one treat, a full fat bottle of coke. Seeing those chips sitting there, mocking me, was too much. I could almost hear them whispering to me ‘Come on fat boy, you want some of this don’t you’…

Now obviously I’m not from Bromley, so wouldn’t have dreamt of taking the cold unwanted chips, but it took a great deal of self control to not carry my podgy self round to the tea bar to pick myself up a portion. I suppose the moral of this tale is, ‘Throw your unwanted food in the blue bins in case it tempts fatties to eat unhealthily’. Although I suppose it could have been a masterful piece of marketing by the club to encourage higher food sales…

The new wall would have looked great if some vandal hadn't written on all the bricks... and who stole one?

The new wall would have looked great if some vandal hadn't written on all the bricks... and who stole one?

All thoughts of chips went out the window, as what appeared to be a game of football broke out on the pitch. Plus who was this lining up for Wycombe? Well it looked like former Dons prodigy Carl Cort, indeed the tannoy even announced him as such. But this couldn’t be our Carl Cort, surely? Our Carl Cort was a pacy, alert, agile striker, hungry for goals. This impostor just seemed to wander around, occasionally sticking his leg out at a loose ball, never really getting into the game and when he did, never looking threatening. In fact he was probably only given a trial for a laugh, as Peter Taylor attempted to field the largest team ever to set foot on a field. Seriously, Peter Crouch would feel normal lining up with some of these boys.

Not that they looked entirely dominating to begin with. In fact the biggest early threat to the Dons goal was triallist keeper Sebb Brown. I would imagine through the warm up Brown was telling himself internally not to panic, to stay calm and relaxed. Sadly he looked almost asleep when miscontrolling a back pass, before hilariously losing sight of the ball despite the fact it was just behind him. Brown was robbed of the ball after what seemed an eternity, and to his credit he refused to follow the secret goalkeepers directive in this situation of immediately giving away a penalty in order to take everyone’s mind off the error, instead smothering the ball at the feet of a Wycombe player, presumably with a great amount of relief. Brown would go on to make several fine saves, but found touch with a couple of kicks, to the point I was inspired to write ‘He’ll do for us!’ in my notebook.

Danny Kedwell strays just offside

Danny Kedwell strays just offside

Wycombe had the better of the first half, creating the games proper opening chance, their 24 slamming the ball over the bar. Now I have to confess, it was hard enough keeping track of our new boys, and we were only advised of Wycombe’s 1-11 before the game, meaning even some Wycombe fans near me couldn’t identify him. In fact, seeing my camera and notebook and perhaps mistaking me for someone slightly more professional, they even asked me who he was. Oh dear.

The Dons weren’t outclassed, they just weren’t creating chances. There was still some good interplay, especially when Hatton and Luke Moore combined down the right for Sam to knock a decent looking ball over that caused Wycombe keeper Shearer all sorts of problems, sadly the ball was ruled to have curled out of play. Moore really impressed me during his 45 minutes. He always seemed to want the ball, and knows what to do with it when he receives it. I don’t think he will really become a fans favourite if only because there’s something about him which reminds me of Martin Randall for some reason… perhaps just in the looks department? 

At the back, Wycombe had a better quality of ball in the final third, and with Browns lack of height preventing him dominating his area from crosses, Paul Lorraine had to stay alert to flick a ball away under pressure at the back post. Then on 28 minutes whoever the Wycombe number 23 was… lets just calls him Wycombe 23, slashed a volley across goal and wide at the second attempt. Plus the Wycombe number 2 (hang on, I know him, that was George Daly I think…) was giving Chris Hussey a torrid time in one on ones, always finding a way past the youngster to knock a decent ball into the danger zone.

wwfc 017Finally around the half hour mark, The Dons fashioned a chance. Young striker Peter Rapson was sharp enough to pick up on a Wycombe error at the back before skipping across goal, beating two men on his way. He laid the ball off to Lewis Taylor 25 yard out, who perhaps could have let fly but instead intelligently picked out Danny Kedwell with a chipped pass. Kedwell could have perhaps guided his header across goal, but instead planted it straight into Shearer’s arms. Sadly this was the only time Wimbledon even tried to break the Wycombe defence down in the first half despite looking good on the ball entering the final third, especially down the right.

Wycombe took the game back up the other end, Leon Johnson crashing the ball against the near post from 25 yards from the left channel, the ball ricocheting off Brown for a corner. Then from the same position a minute later, Wycombe 23 hit a rasping dipping volley that Brown did brilliantly to palm over. The keeper did his confidence no harm by pulling off a smart save from the resulting corner. I still think he’s a bit short though…

Towards the end of the half Wimbledon had a couple of chances, the impressive Rapson mishitting his volley wide from 20 yards, before Kenny Adjei tried his luck from further out only to see the ball fizz over the bar. This brought the half to an end, wholesale changes meaning the second half would be almost a completely different game.

Rapson strikes.... wide

Rapson strikes.... wide

The Dons could take plenty of positives from the half though. Lorraine and Judge looked impressive in the air at the back, plus the midfield three, plus Moore in a roaming role, looked good with the ball. The standout performance came from Lewis Taylor. He showed great confidence and awareness with the ball at his feet, rarely getting robbed and consistently picking out colleagues with a range of passes. No wonder Terry Brown has been waxing lyrical about his standards in training. Taylor was one of the few Dons completely unfazed by playing a higher standard of opponent, to the point we must start to think perhaps if Wimbledon don’t manage to make it to The League in the next couple of years Taylor will on his own. Next season will tell us all we need to know about the lad.

Another huge positive was the performance of Peter Rapson. He really didn’t look out of place lining up alongside Kedwell; with Moore just behind, and while not the extra striker Terry Brown has been looking for is certainly one for the future. We saw the kind of player Brown wants in his squad in the second half, the previously mentioned Kelvin Bossman. Bossman has been listed in the programme for the two games it covered (Brighton being the other) suggesting he is going to be on extended trial with the club. He took the field alongside Main, neither wearing a shirt number yet neither really needing one, with Elliott Godfrey just behind wearing his familiar number 20 shirt…

In fact the only player to survive the half time cull was Jay Conroy. The new new keeper was a guy called Kieran Thorp, and we saw debuts for Brett Johnson (partnering Inns at the back), Derek Duncan, Gregory, Wellard and Cheeseman as well as the aforementioned Bossman. The large striker found himself up against Wycombe triallist Michael Duberry, who you will be relieved to hear still has a massive head.

The lads stretch it out at half time

The lads stretch it out at half time

Wimbledon looked much the better side in the second half, creating a chance immediately when Jon Main found space in front of the Wycombe defence before striking for goal. Unfortunately he completely mishit it, only to see it turn into a defence splitting pass for Elliott Godfrey, clear on the right, to screw his effort across goal. Derek Duncan, at left back, seemed to be having few of the problems Chris Hussey had in the first half. Facing up to a Wycombe man on the right edge of his own area, he expertly stole the ball of his foot before haring forward down the left. He then had the vision to pick out Bossman, clear down the left but with no one in support, only to side foot at the keeper when lashing it high towards the near post would have been a better option.

In fact Bossman and Duberry seemed to cancel each other out in a series of aerial challenges, meaning unfortunately that was all we saw of the man they are already calling The Tank (perhaps because he seems to be wider than he is tall?). Although he did have a freekick unfortunately blocked later in the half by the unfortunate Derek Duncan, meaning we are still unsure of quite how deadly he is from set pieces. Bossman will probably get chances to show what he can really do against Brighton, but he blew his chance today to earn himself a contract. The more time that passes until he does, the more time Terry Brown has to pick out a better option.

Bossman keeps an eye on Duberry

Bossman keeps an eye on Duberry

Prior to that Jon Main had a call for a penalty turned down (although as Jon Main always seems to find himself on the floor in the box I’m not quite sure how good it really was). Main found himself sent clear by Godfrey shortly after only to see his effort well saved by the replacement Wycombe keeper. Wimbledon were well on top despite Johnson having to match Lorraine’s effort in the first half of heading away under his own crossbar.

Of course this was when Wycombe showed their class when they needed to. If you were only watching Brett Johnson and Matt Harold it would have appeared as though Johnson had stepped forward perfectly catching Harold offside. Unfortunately ‘a Wimbledon defender’ (possible Ryan Jackson at right back) had dawdled, allowing Harrold a clear run at Thorp, who almost did enough to push Harrold wide only to see the man who gunned us down in the FA Cup last year to net the winner from an angle.

It was tough look on Wimbledon and tough on Thorp, who really had little to do in his second half turnout. As far as goalkeepers are concerned I suppose it’s now down to Thorp to prove himself in training, as presumably Pullen and Turner will take their positions on the Isle of Man.

Ricky Wellard still had time for one more Dons chance when, 22 yards out and central, he smashed his effort over the bar. Elliott Godfrey made way for the reserve teams baby faced assassin Matt Harmsworth to enter for a short cameo, before the game ended. So an unfortunate defeat for Wimbledon set against the background of early preseason. Wycombe looked slightly stronger as you would expect due to their full-time status, but Wimbledon didn’t embarrass themselves. In fact there is much to look forward to. Jon Main looked dangerous, especially when linking up with Elliott Godfrey who himself showed he isn’t going to settle for a place on the bench for Luke Moore’s benefit.

Terry Brown has some tough decisions to make, but judging by the very little we have seen so far, this can only be regarded as a positive. Now for some team bonding in the Isle of Man before Brown faces the task of turning this group of twenty-odd footballers into a team. And I face the task of remembering how to end a match report properly… 

CORRECTION

As you all know, Bossmans nickname is not ‘The Tank’, that was allocated to Damian Spencer who trained with us last week and has now signed for Kettering. Thanks to Old Isthmian on the Guestbook for pointing that out. This is what comes of having no internet for a week and failing to do my own research by turning up at training…

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