Tag Archives: Luke Moore

The Anonymous Don’s Summer Squad Preview Part IV – Forwards

Just when you thought I’d forgotten… ok, I actually had forgotten. With no Kedwell and no Mo the front line is looking very different to last season, but the delay in previewing has already seen a promising start…


I’ll admit to being a little confused by Charlie Boy’s arrival… surely not a replacement for Kedwell, maybe someone to give us more options from the bench after Mo’s departure… but it turned out Charlie Ademeno is looking like becoming a more than decent player in his own right. Not that we should have expected any different – remembering Grimsby fans commenting on the move, none of them questioned his ability, they just seemed a little miffed they didn’t see more of him on the pitch due to his injury records.

The length of time he spent on the sidelines went a long way to ensuring Grimsby allowed him to leave half way through a two-year contract, this a player they paid a five-figure sum for less than a year earlier. It also means Charlie has a contract built towards protecting the club should he spend most of the season on the treatment table, and means should he stay free of injury and score goals for us, TB might just have picked up the League Two bargain of the season.

While not the biggest forward, he uses his enormous strength to protect the ball and hold possession and bring others into play… which is the one aspect of Kedwell’s game I thought we would have most difficulty replacing. Unlike Kedwell, I’m not sure Charlie will be the most prolific of forwards, but that’s just going on his previous record – if he starts scoring on top of that it’ll be a nice bonus.


Is he a forward, is he a winger, or is he a full back? Well, to be honest we probably won’t see him very much in any of those positions this term, having fallen out of favour after a spell of indifferent form at the start of the year, allowing TB to bring Luke Moore back into the starting lineup. Yet although the O/S lists him as a defender, we’ve seen far more of him in an attacking role at first team level.

It’s a big season for Ryan, stepping up to the Football League. On his game last season his pace and direct running made him a handful for any Conference defence… the problem being when not performing to those levels he became a bit of a passenger. He hasn’t come close to getting game time in our early fixtures, which is a worry… I hate writing off young players, but I have to admit Ryan is one who I can’t see being with us this time next year.


The newest of the bunch, by all accounts a forward with plenty of pace and promise. Experience further up the leagues with Crystal Palace gives him a head start over some of our other younger forwards, the only slight worry being sometimes dropping down the divisions signals the beginning of a career slide for young players. Alternatively taking a step back is sometimes the only way to take two forwards, and if Djilali puts in even half the effort he did on his debut (still not fully fit, remember…) he won’t have any worries on the career front. We only have about an hour of football to judge him on so far, so I won’t, what I will say is his arrival gives us options…


Having already made the step up from county football to Ryman in a season, then from Ryman to Conference Premier a year later, Christian Jolley now finds himself playing in the Football League. Given the steep career curve Jolley has taken, an outside observer might expect him to suffer in the same manner Ryan Jackson is… in other words struggle for a contract next season.

But no… Christian has continued where he left off at the end of last season – not starting games, admittedly, but causing chaos and frightening the life out of League Two defenses as an impact substitute. Jolley has become something of a fan favourite thanks to his pacy, direct game, and we shouldn’t discount him having a run of starts (and hopefully goals) at some stage during the campaign.

And yet he is still young and inexperienced… still learning lessons. He will be inconsistent – one minute unplayable, the next fans forgetting he was even on the field. But once he gets over that, we could end up with some player on our hands…


With Kedwell having departed, I think a few of us were hoping Jack Midson would be the new Danny Kedwell, but have been proved wrong just a couple of weeks into the new season… it turns out Jack Midson is doing just fine being Jack Midson, and us Dons could find ourselves better off for it.

I can see Midson being as much of a hit with Wimbledon supporters as Kedwell was. We can already see for ourselves the qualities he’ll bring to the side… An eye for goal speaks for itself with four goals already, but bravery? Staples in a head wound that would have put lesser players out of the game at Dagenham. Plus we are already seeing plenty of positive comments praising his high work rate – Dons fans would forgive him for not being the twenty goal a season hitman if his hard work creates goals for other players.


I’ve always been a big fan of Luke, a tricky and intelligent forward who gets his fair share of goals but creates so much more for others. In fact I mentioned at the start of the campaign this could be a career season for Luke, providing he steers clear of injury. And what a start he made, showing everyone just what he is capable with a mazy run and finish at Crawley.

His goal tally might be boosted a little by the fact he appears to be our penalty taker this term, perhaps thanks to his nerveless penalty at Eastlands. Looks best when positioned behind a front two, like all our forwards he actually does an awful lot of work tracking back, not afraid to put in a challenge or two to win the ball back – definitely a Terry Brown player, a key member of the squad and the sort of player who, if he sticks around, will come in very handy if we find ourselves pushing for promotion in a couple of years time.

Tagged , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

Dons fans, half an hour before kick off

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

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

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

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

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

The Dons line up for another season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged , , , , ,

AFC Wimbledon 0 York City 1 – A Match Report

I think we were a little spoiled by our early home form. We got used to certain teams with huge budgets turning up at Kingsmeadow and not walking away with the three expected points. Well, except Oxford, but even they knew they had been in a fight. Then, at the start of October, bigger boys from The North started arriving, rolling up their sleeves and bullying us out of the game.

Yesterdays game drew comparisons with our previous two home games, except this week our potent strike force never even looked like they were going to bail us out of trouble. We only managed one shot on target all afternoon. In fact, I’m starting to get used to getting home on a Saturday evening feeling a bit down.

It seems as though the combination of players we have at the moment we can’t beat teams like York at home at the moment. It will be a different game when we travel up there in March, but right now it seems no matter how much of a fight they put up, our current crop were always going to be hanging on against a powerful side. It’s the difference between us challenging for a playoff place and spending the season in mid-table, which now looks likely.

So what was wrong with our lineup yesterday? Working from back to front, there were two clear weaknesses, our goalkeeper and our midfielder. I always thought Sebb Brown was a strange signing, yet over the course of the season when he was called upon to deputise for James Pullen he seemed to have drummed the simple errors out of his game. As a shot stopper he is competent, yet his distribution left a lot to be desired. Time and again he gave up possession with a series of kicks that found touch. I know conditions were poor, but a degree of concentration would have ensured the ball would arrive somewhere near its target.

Several players, as well as the manager, showed a great deal of frustration at this, and I’m not sure it would have been helped by the requirement of our entire team to pack out the area from corners and set pieces in order to protect his aerial deficiencies. This again gave up possession as it meant Wimbledon either had to hoof the ball clear, giving up the ball yet again, or try to play their way out of danger –  which lead to the only goal of the game.

I have mentioned in the past that we will have the same issues if we draft in young Jack Turner in terms of having to protect him, but honestly, why not? At least he is positive about coming for high balls. Plus he has a kick that would put any in this division to shame. I understand the theory that Sebb is being used to make the mistakes so Jack doesn’t have to at this early stage of his career, a first team start would be invaluable to his progress. Just send him out there, tell him there is no pressure on him and see whether he takes it. If it doesn’t work, bring Sebb back until Pullen recovers. If this really is a season of building experience, now we have a chance to give a start to a player who could well be our number one in a couple of years time.

The visitors physical nature showed up our midfield as the paperweight unit it is. To be fair to them, they didn’t give the ball away very much, but thats mainly down to them failing to win possession back very often. Plus when Sam Hatton turns out to be your midfield enforcer – well absolutely no disrespect to Sam intended, I though apart from the goal he had one of his better games and looked like the only midfielder capable of winning the ball in the air – but when you find yourself relying on him to win the ball back because no-one else will, then your going to have problems in this league.

It seems strange that Terry didn’t go for a tough midfielder, someone who is strong from box to box and isn’t going to lose out very much in a challenge. Someone who can lead the midfield, and who the younger players can play around and learn from. We saw this deficiency yesterday and it was like playing with a man short. While perhaps I have been one of the worst culprits in glossing over our midfield problems, it’s now the elephant in the room that we cannot avoid to ignore if we have any remaining ambition of putting together a run in the New Year.

The question is, will Terry take the opportunity to do this in January or will he allow the current bunch to lay out a season of comparative mediocrity? Although I have to point out, Steven Gregory is a really good player. You can see him playing at a higher level in future, and playing alongside the right mix of team mates he could be one of the men who help us out of the division. But Elliott Godfrey was lightweight. He tried really hard but he never got into the action. And Lewis Taylor just didn’t get into the game, mainly down to some fussy refereeing going against him.

On the subject of the referee, and moving to the game itself, he wasn’t going to let York use their strength to simply steamroller us. York started the better of the two sides without ever creating anything worth noting down, but I do remember Michael Rankine blasting well wide in the opening couple of minutes. Instead it was all about the antics of the York players, mainly their front two, and their baffling efforts to unsettle the Dons back line.

On another day Rankine would have been booked for an ugly early challenge on Lorraine, who seemed to be targeted by the visitors. It seemed a strange decision, as the big Dons defender kept his cool well – initially. It was Richard Brodie’s turn to have a go a few minutes later, where with the ball out of play he rushed towards Lorraine before barging into him, only to collapse onto the ground himself. It was actually one of the funniest comedy falls I’ve seen in a long while, and drew big laughs around the ground. Brodie naturally received a yellow, although the home crowd didn’t forget his intentions, booing him on the few occasions he found the ball at his feet.

Brodie and Rankine certainly look like a couple of beasts, Brodie himself could do with a mask and a chainsaw and I think he would have found his true vocation in the movies, whereas Rankine looks like the sort of person you see on real life documentaries, living on death row in Louisiana for eating babies. And it was Rankine who had the best chance of the first half, meeting a cross from the right only yards out but steering it well over the bar. If anything this outbreak of football was a mere interference to the more entertaining battle that was taking place.

Rankine was next in the book after a ‘collision’ with the unflustered Lorraine, and to the crowd’s delight Danny Parsloe beat him into the book for his excessive protests. The referee counted out the number of fouls Rankine had made, as usual pointing to nowhere near where these fouls took place but making his point. At this point Lorraine had the beating of his two rivals, and could have really pushed the pair of them later in the half had he not snapped himself, after another Rankine foul he pointed out that Rankine was treading a fine line a little too firmly and found himself in the book as well.

Overall an interesting but ultimately fruitless war ended from that point with all parties seeming to accept a draw. The fun and games were put aside as all parties put their minds firmly back on the football. Not that there was much taking place. York had the better of possession but they couldn’t turn it into chances. And in injury time of the first half Danny Kedwell managed what turned out to be Wimbledon’s only effort on target, taking down a ball on the left edge of the area before striking firmly towards the near post but easily smothered by the otherwise untested Michael Ingham.

Half time came as a relief with the hope that Terry might find those few magic words that could spark our misfiring team to life. A swooping flock of parakeets dived down in front of the Tempest and added a bit of colour to the occasion, but before anyone could ask whether they fancied displacing our problem pigeons they were gone. Still, they added a bit of colour to an otherwise drab afternoon…

The teams returned to the field and it quickly became apparent that it was the visitors who were most likely to take the game. Kicking towards their large but relatively quiet contingent of 400 or so in the KRE they seemed a step ahead of Wimbledon. Yet it took them a while to create anything, and the Dons had a couple of half chances. First a deep corner from the left was met by Lorraine, who nodded back into the six yard box. For a moment it seemed as though Brett Johnson was about to apply the finish from yards out but was beaten by a York head to turn it round for another flag kick. This corner was taken short and ultimately cleared, only as far as Steven Gregory, whose low effort was deflected into the air and just past the top left corner.

It must have woken York up for the need to find a goal of their own. A number of corners were cleared in desperation by the Dons defence, which even included Jon Main leaving very little choice but to hand possession back to York. Then a deep cross was met at the far post by Brodie, kept out via a desperate arm of Brown before the crossbar, the ball eventually hooked away to relative safety. I wrote in my notes that Wimbledon would be lucky to survive this spell, and like clockwork the goal came.

A couple of Dons defenders had chances to clear the ball before it fell to Sam Hatton in space on the right side of the Wimbledon box. With nothing ahead of him Hatton tried to dribble clear, only to be easily nudged off the ball for it to be returned at an angle for Rankine to meet with a firm header that gave Brown no chance. It was unfortunate for Hatton, who up to that point had been a man of the match contender thanks to his no-nonsense tackling and aerial ability, but it taught him that there are certain times when you can’t play football, and have to weigh up the percentages and knock it clear. If that means booting it into touch and regrouping then so be it. I get the impression they will have to learn th hard way a few more times this campaign before it finally sinks in…

With their backs against the walls a fight back looked unlikely, even with nearly half an hour of football to play. The referee had helped the Dons in the first half with his no-nonsense approach to infringements, but seemed to have taken a disliking to Lewis Taylor. Playing in his usual free role on the right, Taylor found himself tugged back time and again only to see the award go against him. I can’t be too unfair on the referee here, he did have a decent game when many others would have lost control, and maybe it was down to Taylor’s strange habit of waving his arms around like a man lost at sea whenever he gets involved in a footrace with an opposition player.

Gregory struck wide of the left post from distance with twenty-five minutes to go, yet Wimbledon only looked like they had half a chance of getting back on terms following the introduction of Luke Moore to replace Godfrey. He immediately looked the most impressive player on the pitch, picking up a ball on the left before finding the touch-line and prodding past Ingham across the six yard line, only to see Hatton beaten to the ball by a despairing York challenge.

Moore set about unsuccessfully trying to pick a hole through the York defense, one strong run from his own half was crudely halted by an unidentified York man on the edge of the box. With the ability to get everyone behind the ball it was no surprise that Hattons low free kick failed to beat the wall.

And that was pretty much it. Conroy made way for Montague as Terry Brown switched to 3-4-3 for the remaining few minutes, but this was to little effect. Really you had to question the decision to bring on Montague who never really looked like putting in a challenge capable of winning the ball, especially as Moore’s introduction had suggested perhaps bringing on Cumbers might have produced results while trying to play through York, and created space for Main and Kedwell.

Neither of the front two had a bad game, Kedwell forced back to defend all too often and Main isolated as his team mates dropped further and further. But to get the most of our talented front to we need to start creating chances for them. I think back to the number of chances Main wasted against Luton, Eastbourne and the like, and how he would just gobble up those kind of openings now he is back in form.

Perhaps the chances will come on Tuesday, and the Dons will regain a bit of confidence before a tough trip to Kidderminster next weekend. But before we can think of a comfortable win on Tuesday, we need to think about making sure of the win. Ebbsfleet have had their problems this season and are very much there for the taking, if Wimbledon feel the pressure too much to find a home performance we could find ourselves with all sorts of problems… and would a big win just paper over the cracks?

Tagged , , , , ,

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…

Tagged , , , ,

Ebbsfleet United v AFC Wimbledon – A Match Preview

The bad news first. I will be unable to attend the game myself thanks to a short term financial crisis caused by having to buy two tickets from Heathrow to Boston Logan over the Christmas period… unfortunately I do value being able to eat at least one decent meal a day over one game of football, and unfortunately Mrs Anonymous Don definitely does… although if her family lived in Guildford we wouldn’t be in this situation right now. Grrr….

Having said that, I should have known this would happen. Whenever we face a trip to Northfleet something happens that prevents me attending. To be honest I’m actually more worried about missing the trip to Rushden later in the month than this one (although if I haven’t got the money by then something will have gone terribly wrong…). Yet it’s still annoying, after all heading into October it sounds a lot better to say ‘I’ve only missed one game this season…’ than ‘The only games I’ve missed are…’. Especially as I am supposed to be informing the world of all things AFC Wimbledon through the medium of this blog…

Missing the game will also mean there is no match report… unless someone would like to volunteer a report? Seriously, it can be as long or short as you like, in any style you want. I absolutely guarantee I will use it… drop me an email using the address in the ‘Contact’ section above…

Anyway, on to the game itself. I already did a piece in the summer about Ebbsfleet, the usual MyFC bashing and some background which bear in mind will be a bit dated, but you can read it here – https://anonymousdon.wordpress.com/2009/06/07/the-conference-files-ebbsfleet-united/.

The Fleet fans have obviously had bigger news to digest this week, with the local council buying their Stonebridge Road ground to safeguard the clubs future there. However there is some internet chatter about the game including the return of Luke Moore. Unfortunately their supporters seem to have a ‘realistic’ view of how the game will turn out, many predicting a Dons win, which only means those predicting a win for Ebbsfleet will undoubtedly be proved right…

Don’t worry though, superstitious types out there. The mere lack of my presence means something memorable is going to happen. Our hosts haven’t scored in any of their last three games, which suggests they are overdue a goal (either that or they’re crap. I suppose we’ll find out on Saturday…). Still, there are no easy away games in this division, except for Grays but I imagine we caught them at just the right time.

The Dons team news is up, and Terry is already talking a couple of games ahead to Crawley and his squad rotation plans. The good news is that Jamie Pullen is back in the squad, along with Alan Inns. I would imagine one of them will start on Saturday… but which one? I better reveal all with my anticipated starting XI (feels like I haven’t done one of these for a while…)












Rather than last weeks 4-3-3, a return to the 4-4-2 lineup with a hungry Luke Moore alongside Kedwell, I would imagine Ross Montague may get a start in the next couple of weeks, but we will see him on the bench come Saturday. We know we won’t be seeing Elliott Godfrey, and with Moore supporting Kedwell we should see Lewis Taylor start, presumably down the right. No Derek Duncan should mean a return for Kenny Adjei, presuming he is fit. Our 1-6 are a done deal, ignoring squad numbers of course…

All this talk of the game on Saturday has now made me feel much worse. I may have to beg, borrow, or steal the money to attend (preferably the first or last… I have the scruffy face and stubbly beard at the moment, plus the elderly have just been paid…). Failing that, enjoy yourself those that are attending, and those that aren’t I suppose I’ll see you in the matchday stadium…

Tagged , , ,

Conference Score and Match Reaction Altrincham 23.8.09

Firstly, and just in case anyone has tuned in late not knowing the score…

Altrincham    (0) 0

AFC Wimbledon    (0) 1    Kedwell (82)

And that, if you didn’t know, has taken AFC Wimbledon into 4th place. True, only five games have been played, but for the young Wimbledon side this is more experience. Perhaps next year, we may be in fourth place preparing to face the league leaders with five games to go?

In truth, we probably don’t have the experience, as well as a lack of depth among our striking options, to hold up a serious playoff challenge over the course of this season. Look at how Kettering tailed off last year when they became preoccupied with the FA Cup. I expect a decent run in the FA Cup this year, and perhaps a huge push to get to Wembley in the Trophy.

I expect this season to be exciting. I also think we will win more games than we lose. Yet for every battling away win at places like Altrincham we are going to trip up in the manner we did at Eastbourne… especially in situations where the pressure is on. Plus although Salisbury rolled over for us last Tuesday, we are going to come across opponents hanging around the bottom half who will all of a sudden become very hard to break down.

I expect us to give Oxford a really good game on Saturday. Yet it’s how we perform in the following two games against Grays and Tamworth that will decide whether we are still in the playoff places come 5pm on the first Saturday of September. Looking further ahead, at some point Danny Kedwell’s rich goalscoring form will come to an end. He’s never been prolific anywhere he has been – even last year it was more about the goals he created than the many he scored.

Plus Terry has already spoken about his desire for Luke Moore to chip in with a few goals this term. If Moore can hit twenty this season, as he has the tallent to achieve, perhaps that will take the pressure off Jon Main a little. The fact that no league sides came in for Main last summer probably has more to do with the fact he was under contract, and we would have asked for silly money. Yet even if he was a free agent, I can’t believe clubs would have been falling overthemselves to sign him. Perhaps he would have got a trial here or there, I don’t think anything would have come from it.

As I have said previously though, Main is still getting chances. Perhaps against Oxford or Grays he will race clear of the defence and stick it away this time, then chances are he will start chipping in goals. My biggest problem at the moment is we haven’t seen any goals from midfield. With players like Hatton and Taylor, even Duncan, shouldn’t we have seen a goal from one of them in the last five games?

Like the league table however, the goalscoring charts are normally skewed by early season form that cannot be kept up over the course of the season. I’m sure by the end of September we will be in a position to judge our strengths and weaknesses a little better. Until then, and looking at some of the fixtures we have coming up, my only recommendation to you all is just to enjoy it!

Finally, I heard a supporter of ours collapsed at the game yesterday, apparently the Altrincham stewards dealt with it very efficiently. I don’t know the fan in question, but needless to say my thoughts, and those of all Dons fans, are with them now.

PS In case you missed the earlier news, I wasn’t at the game so there will be NO MATCH REPORT from me. Never mind, to make up here are some offerings from the media, and some of my fellow fan sites;

Local Guardian/Surrey Comet –http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/sport/football/4561030.Still_so_much_to_come_purrs_Dons_boss_Brown/

BBC Sport (for a laugh more than anything, see the description for the Alty chance…) – http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_conf/8207946.stm

BBC Sport text commentary – http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/w/afc_wimbledon/live_text/default.stm

Altrincham O/S report ***Excellent*** – http://www.altrinchamfc.co.uk/090822an.htm

It Must Be Dons – http://imbd.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/long-journey-for-3-lovely-points/

SW19s – http://sw19s-army.derrymeeleen.com/wp/?p=3904

AFC WimbledonMAD – http://www.afcwimbledon-mad.co.uk/news/loadroll.asp?cid=ED81&id=459412

Tagged , , , ,

AFC Wimbledon 4 Salisbury City 0 – A Match Report

Strange as it may sound, I left the stadium ever so slightly disappointed this evening… I wanted to hear Hawaii 5-0 over the tannoy! Although the habit of playing music after goals shouldn’t be encouraged I suppose… Not when we now seem to have kicked that one… 

5-0 would have been hugely unfair on a spirited Salisbury team who made life difficult for Wimbledon despite the disadvantage of being down to ten men, and were only killed off by a couple of Dons goals in a mad final minute of normal time, when tiredness lead to a couple of individual errors.

On a lovely evening for watching football, Dons fans turned up in their droves for our first night game, and return after two tough games on the road. Again I missed kickoff, this time standing in a vast queue for season ticket holders, before realising that one of our group needed to pay cash and heading for the much shorter normal turnstiles. I only missed a couple of minutes and to be fair the game was just bedding in (so there are no excuses for a poor report today!).

And some people were still entering the stadium eleven minutes in, thankfully not missing a moment of brilliance by Luke Moore. He picked up the ball just inside the Salisbury half, ran towards goal, and as the Salisbury defence backed off let fly with a right foot shot from fully thirty yards out that curled away from the keeper and into the top right hand corner of the goal.

Now Luke Moore has been threatening to do something like that since he first pulled on a Wimbledon shirt, but this superb strike was just the beginning of as fine an individual performance as I can remember seeing over the past few years. Going forward, especially on the break, everything seemed to go through Moore. Moore however, was simply the cherry on the cake of a magnificent team performance.

Salisbury didn’t manage an effort on target all evening, their first chance falling on the quarter hour was blazed well over. The ball was immediately sent down field and some poor defensive positioning led to Jon Main finding the ball at his feet running through the left channel and into the box. Unfortunately Main hesitated when he could have shot immediately, and the chance was spurned.

Salisbury may have had problems at the back, but they still caused the Dons some problems going forwards, Matt Tubbs failing to finish a well worked move on the right with a clean strike, instead screwing wide of the near post from the edge of the penalty are on twenty minutes. This was the last shaky moment the Dons defence had in the first half, the remainder belonging almost completely to Wimbledon.

Luke Moore showed how he can create a chance from nearly nothing midway through the half, taking a ball out of the sky onto his chest before whipping a lovely ball across the face of the Salisbury goal. I can only imagine neither Main or Kedwell really expected to see such a quality ball arrive as neither of them were in a position to attack the ball. Once again it shouldn’t take long for either of them to click on to the way Moore plays, and sensing a low ball rather than hanging back to attack a high cross would have resulted in a tap in for either frontmen.

Ricky Wellard had been given the chance of a first start, and played well enough. The game seemed to pass him by at some points, yet he worked hard, once he gets up to speed in this division he could prove a great signing. On one occasion he did chose the wrong option, on 27 minutes when he found the ball at his feet thirty yards out and tried a Luke Moore type effort of his own. This sadly flew high and wide, when he could have taken an easier option by playing in Hussey down the left, who had been beating his man for fun. I don’t begrudge him choosing to strike at goal, the fact he felt the confidence to do so will benefit him the day he hits one and it does fly in.

In fact the only real weak link (and its arguable that we even had one) was turning out to be Jon Main. He doesn’t seem to be working on instincts at the moment. Whether it is the higher standard of defending, or he is just getting use to new team mates, I don’t know. But he seems to be short of confidence right now, shown earlier in the half and on the half hour mark when he was sent clear by a flick down the left. Held up by his man, he delayed playing the obvious ball to Moore, who was free inside him. This threw Moore slightly, to the point that when the ball arrived to him he seemed to have got there before it, causing him to stumble on striking and seeing the ball bobble wide of the left post.

Main was to curse his ponderous nature in the penalty area once more five minutes before half time. Moore slipped him in and clear on goal, yet once more he failed to pull the trigger early and found himself robbed of the ball by a fantastic last ditch challenge. Fortunately for the Dons, Sam Hatton was on hand to pick up the pieces, but he too elected not to hit it first time. Instead he cut back inside, taking the last defender out of play completely but also knocking the ball away from goal slightly, meaning when he reached the ball and shot with his left foot, keeper Bittner had closed him down, getting enough on the shot for it to loop up and bounce just wide of the left post.

If the Dons fans thought they saw entertainment in the first half, well they were in for a treat during the second… although not always for the purest of football reasons… The fun began in the 47th minute, well the fun began for everyone except Sean Clohessy – he had to be substituted with a rather nasty head injury. His replacement was every-ones favourite former Dons target man Danny Webb, now reborn as a defender at Salisbury (mind you, Danny did do a fantastic job of keeping the ball out of the net during his Wimbledon days….).

No sooner had Webb made his entrance than Jon Main almost made his exit prematurely. Picking the ball up on the half way line, perhaps a bit of his frustration came to a head as he overhit the ball and flew in over the top with both feet raised. Perhaps realising Main, as a forward, has absolutely no idea how to tackle, the referee showed leniency and only showed a yellow card. If the official had seen any kind of malice in the frontmans challenge however, the second half could have turned out a whole lot differently for Wimbledon.

One thing I have said recently about Main is at least he is finding himself on the end of goalscoring opportunities. A player who is perhaps unfairly cited as doing nothing for 89 minutes then scoring will find himself criticised for not hitting the back of the net. Yet if you watch him closely he does buzz around the oppositions back four, perhaps not winning possession himself too often but certainly pressuring defenders enough to hustle them into allowing our midfield to pick the ball up easier.

The only photo I took that cameout...

The only photo I took that came out...

Yet like Kedwell, this is just the bare minimum we should expect from Main. Unlike Kedwell he doesn’t bring other players into the game and create chances almost out of nothing by sheer willpower alone. He showed these qualities to create Mains last contribution to the evening, picking up the ball wide right before beating his man, using his strength to hold him off before whipping in a decent cross. Main, just inside the area, could only direct it wide of the near post having throwing himself at the ball and perhaps getting a little too much on it.

As soon as was practically possible after the hour mark, Terry Brown made his usual change. Main found himself hauled off once more, and it is perhaps telling that the only time a substitution has worked in his favour was when he was brought on to change the game against Luton. Ricky Wellard was also sacrificed after an important hour of experience gained, replaced by Derek Duncan and Lewis Taylor to exploit the wide areas.

The changes seemed to spark Salisbury into life, and they spurned their best effort of the night. A free kick given following an immaculate Sam Hatton challenge was drilled just wide of the top right corner by an unidentified Salisbury man (hey… at least I’m honest about it…). Then came, from another freekick – this time from deep, a chance for Danny Webb, attacking the ball from the left side of the area and knocking a looping header just wide of the right post.

Just as it seemed Salisbury were about to gain a foothold on the game, they fell apart in the 70th minute. As their defence pushed forward, a Derek Duncan through ball saw Luke Moore rush clear, round Bittnerbefore being cut down by the goalkeeper. A penalty, but maybe worse for the visitors was the referee chose not to ignore this particular red card offence. Salisbury are running with a very small squad at the moment, so a substitute goalkeeper wasn’t an option.

Instead, to the delight of the vast midweek crowd, Danny Webb took the gloves and jersey (slightly too small jersey) and stood up to Danny Kedwell. The Dons hitman hit a penalty way too good for Webb, who perhaps found himself a little dazzled by the situation, watching the ball fly low and hard to his right. 2-0 Wimbledon, and at that stage it seemed as though a Luke Moore driven Dons could get any number of goals in the last twenty minutes.

Instead Salisbury regrouped, and were professional about the task in hand. In fact they looked the better side for periods in the last twenty. Wimbledon grew frustrated, chasing shadows, Lewis Taylor needlessly booked for a late challenge, and Derek Duncan was penalised for a strong challenge with his elbow raised to the opponents head – once more if the referee had seen this from a different angle he may have chosen to punish Duncan slightly more than just issuing a free kick against him.

Webb’s big moment came on 82 minutes. Another Kedwell run down the right lead to him knocking a tantalising cross low across the six yard box. Taylor missed it at the near, but it looked odds on Hatton would slam it home at the far a la his Wycombe Cup goal last season. However Webb got over brilliantly to keep out his left foot effort, as Wimbledon fans started to feel perhaps they wouldn’t be seeing any more goals on this occasion.

After a period of further frustration, which saw Ben Judge flash an effort from 30 yards low across the face of goal and just wide of the left post, Wimbledon added to their tally in the last minute of normal time. A hopeful Duncan ball over the top found Kedwell, who spun past his man perhaps a little too easily. Against a regular goalkeeper his heavy second touch would have been picked up, but Webb looked like a small animal caught in the headlights of a juggernaut, too late moving forward and allowing Kedwell to stab across him into the far corner for his fourth of the season.

Almost from the restart, and as the fourth official was preparing to show stoppage time on the board, Moore robbed a Salisbury man, ran on and tucked the ball seemingly through Webb and into the back of the net. Finally Wimbledon had made the most of their man advantage, and lack of experience between the sticks.

There was time for another scare to the Salisbury goal as a Ben Judge up and under spilled out of Webb’s hands and onto his head, somehow remaining there for what seemed like several seconds as he spun on the spot trying to locate it. He finished this circus trick by recovering and gratefully clutching the ball. It almost finished on a huge downer for the Dons, as Kedwell pulled up in the corner as if he had strained something – he managed to walk off albeit gingerly, raising hopes that perhaps all was not as bad as Wimbledon heads may fear.

Positive thinking may be what is required from Dons fans – 24 hours later there is no news on the injury (although I have heard that’s supposed to be good news…). Yet losing Kedwell will be like playing with ten men at the moment. While Moore and Taylor are equally strong at holding the ball up and bringing others into play, neither has the extra dimension of being an aerial outlet. Plus with or without Kedwell, Saturdays trip to Altrincham will be tough. We must see three points from places like this as a bonus rather than an expectation, which brings home the importance of decent home form.

Wimbledon added to their tally tonight, and did so in style. If clubs like Salisbury can be dispatched with such minimal fuss, we aren’t going to have any worries. In fact, some people have already started to talk of the playoffs – a little too early perhaps, but as I have said previously, we do not need to fear failure… or ambition. In fact, a little bit of expectation may not be a bad thing for our young side to experience right now…

Tagged , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The General Specific (Friday 5th June ’09)

So as I mentioned earlier, Luke Moore has signed for Wimbledon. Welcome to the club, Luke. He fits well into Terry Browns model of young players still full of potential. In fact Terry’s words on the O/S are interesting –

I also expect Luke to develop within the next couple of years into a quality Football League striker

Not ‘Luke has the potential to play in the Football League’ or ‘We are hoping Luke will develop into a League player’… Terry expects him to be a quality Football League striker. Its sounds like he is not alone in that opinion – a Football League club had made an offer for him.

Now obviously we know nothing of that clubs offer – it could just have been the offer of a trial for example – but the fact that Terry speaks so emphatically about him suggests he genuinely believes Moore can be a special player for us, not just in the Conference but the division above as well. That I believe him is because as I write this I’m listening to Terry’s interview on Cherry Red TV.

The way Terry talks just before the hour mark about how he ‘nicked’ his young players at Aldershot, how he ‘nicked’ Tim Sills from Kingstonian and ‘nicked’ Roscoe Dsane from Woking. He obviously takes great delight in putting young teams together that can challenge. At Wimbledon he has time to bring through younger players who have the ability to play in the Football League. We are in no rush to be challenging immediately (but even if the unexpected happens like last year there is no ceiling to the ambition of this club).

Perhaps I’m overdue a mid pre-season report, but I’d like to see how it all gels together before I start getting too excited. We now seem to have a quality young player in every position that if they apply themselves can be part of the Wimbledon side that gets back into the league. No disrespect to the aforementioned Dsane, who had a great season with us, but signing him as anything other than a backup would go completely against the grain of the clubs current transfer policy.

If these players are good enough, they’re old enough. Recent talk on message boards of an old head being required in midfield seems fair enough if we were planning for the title this season. But as far as I can see we aren’t prepared to bankrupt the club doing that. Even if we sign no one else this summer I believe we have the quality for a top half finish. Let Luton and Oxford spend their way out of the division, they can afford to after all. I’m looking forward to watching some excellent young prospects turn into a formidable team in the near future.

The news article mentioning Luke’s signing also stated there would be some news on our pre-season schedule during the start of next week. Start planning those trips to Farnborough and Tonbridge! 

Tagged ,