Tag Archives: Welling

AFC Wimbledon 0 Welling United 1 – A Match Report

As I walked home from the ground, or more accurately trudged home, a gentlemen of my age approached, smiling, and asked me what the score was. Before I had a chance to answer he unwisely added ‘They won, didn’t they?’. ‘No. Wimbledon lost 1-0 today’ I stammered. The guy looked momentarily confused, then looked at me with a combination of pity and guilt before we each headed in our respective direction. Pity, as his question had reopened a whole can of pain for me. Guilt, that he had asked the question to begin with.

The hazy Meadow

And it had started so well. I had a nice lunch, then headed off to the ground early to pick up my Eastleigh ticket. Such a mild spring day allowed me to leave the coat at home, and bring my sunglasses along with me. Not because the sun was particularly strong, more that at the first sign of warm weather most Cambridge Estate residents try to leave as much exposed skin as possible to attempt to improve their tone from alabaster to something slightly healthier, intensifying the suns rays as it bounces off them into my eyes. Ironically this only has a negative effect, their skin coloured pinky red until the end of August when it conveniently burns off, revealing a brand new milky layer just in time for Autumn.

Despite that, Dons fans walking down Kingston Road were bubbling. Little groups in animated conversation. Boisterous youths bouncing off each other, just waiting for an excuse to break into song. The sun was shining. Hundreds were milling around outside the bars just soaking up the day. Its at this point I’d like to make my bid for at least a nomination in the Understatement of the Week in a Blog, Fanzine, Newsletter or Other Body of Writing Produced in a Non-Professional Capacity Award by saying things went a little downhill from here.

And I think it might be all my fault. I spent the hour before I left at a family lunch telling my uncle that if we won and Hampton lost then in all probability the 12 point gap produced would be too much for the Trumptonites to overcome. I made a token effort to apease the Football Gods. I littered my opinions with plenty of ‘if’s ‘maybe’s and ‘providing Hampton don’t win their game in hand’s. But what really screwed me was when I told my wife I would ‘bring home a bottle of champagne if we won’. From that moment the Best Case Scenario wasn’t going to be an option, and the scenario that played out come three o’clock came with a big sticker on it marked ‘Worst Case’.

My first fears were when I got to my place, which today was in the John Smith Stand. What I’d previously experienced as a happy excited feeling (not THAT kind of happy excited feeling though…) had suddenly transformed itself into a nervous rumbling in my stomach. My mouth felt suddenly dry. As the game kicked off I suddenly remembered the consequences of what would happen if we didn’t win today.

Cash and Brown

If the players felt this same sense of panic it didn’t show initialy. Great work by Danny Kedwell won Wimbledon a thrown down the right, quickly taken to Sam Hatton whose whipped cross was punched away under pressure by Wings keeper Charlie Mitten. Hatton was involved again when Chris Husseys deep cross found him completely unmarked, failing to find the far corner or better positioned team mates and floating harmlessly over. But yet the game remained very open, with James Baker proving a handful for the Dons defence largely due to his skillful, strong and very persistant running with the ball. On a couple of occasions he danced into the Dons box, of which one was somehow not turned in by two colleagues, the other drawing a superb save from eventual man of the match James Pullen.

Wimbledon then sparked into life again, as Main showed unexpected strength when latching onto a through ball despite being held back, getting away a powerful volley that Mitten failed to hold. At one point it looked as though Mitten may have mimicked predecesor Taylors gift of a goal to Main in the corresponding fixture, however the ball squirmed straight upwards and back into the keepers grateful arms.

The two teams had enough time to trade chances before the break, as Baker once more broke into the Wimbledon area before squaring to strike partner Moses Ademola who failed to find the net. Another Pullen save lead to Hatton being forced off the ball unfairly just outside the box. Hatton and Hussey lined up the angles but it was Dwayne Lee who drilled past the wall sadly too close to Mitton. It was a rare positive for Lee, who looked to be lacking fitness and not at all up to speed with the pace of the game. Lee’s afternoon was to get worse in the second half as the Dons left the field for the break to muted applause.

A quiet start to the second half was only enlivened by a couple of corners forced by Dons, and an inswinging low Hussey free kick that had to be pushed wide by a scrambling Mitton. Yet it seemed there was serious problems with the Dons midfield. A solid Welling midfield led by former Don Rob Quinn lorded it over Wimbledon at times. They seemed to have so much time and space to craft chances, whereas Mertons Finest barely had time to get the ball down before finding their offensive decisions rapidly reduced by a fast approaching red shirt. The unfortunate Lee suffered more than most, being exposed in front of the back four.

Of course the Negative Brigade in the John Smiths now had all the ammunition they required to slaughter the laid back number four, and he found himself hauled off by Brown on the hour. Not before a few Dons fans had let themselves down by abusing their own player. One guy behind me shouted ‘Get Lee Off’ repeatedly for a good two minutes, and even mild mannered me got sick of its childish manner, until one straw too many landed and I decided to confront him. Sadly this coincided with Lee finaly being hooked. In retrospect this was a good thing for me, as if I’d asked him to cut it out he would have immediately missed the point and asked me to defend Lees performance, which in all honestly I can’t. But it riles me that certain supporters in this section of the ground show complete naivety and lack of knowledge in situations like this. Lee hadn’t acted unprofessionaly at any point, he just played his normal game and it didn’t come off for him today. When he started to make errors our response, in fact our duty, as supporters should have been to pick him up again. No matter how many games you go to, or how much you donate financially you cannot in all seriousness call yourself a Wimbledon supporter if at this point you think its a good idea to abuse one of your own players. If by some stroke of luck one of the offenders happens to read this report, can I just say please, please can you take in what I have written above. Because when title races go down to the wire, minor problems like these snowball and all of a sudden become very very important. If you think as a supporter there is little you can do to help the lads once they cross the white line then in a way you would be correct, yes. But you sure as hell can cause some damage if your not careful. Rant over.

img_0362Lees replacement was the more attacking option of Saunders, with Adjei moving in front of the back four. For some reason this caused the Dons midfield to seemingly evaporate completely. Welling had the ball over the line soon after but the effort was crossed off due to an offside flag. And Welling got their reward for a brave attacking performance after Sam Hurrell found some space in the left channel, powered towards goal before driving a shot off the post. Several blue shirts were reduced to statues as the ball rebounded to Sanchez Ming to put the Wings ahead.

This isn’t a criticism of the clubs organisation, yet a relatively large away following of around 150 self-segregated themselves into a small section of the Tempest End during the second half, where the acoustics allowed their superb support to dominate vocally during the second half. If full segregation had been in place those Wings supporters would have been back in to corner of Kingston Road and John Smiths, barely heard by most of the stadium. Instead they were given the opportunity to keep their players motivated. And it was Wimbledon that looked demoralised as defensive mistakes lead to two one-on-ones that Pullen brilliantly kept out.

Then the icing on the cake. A Dons corner fell to the reliable Kedwell, lurking yards out at the far post. As the ground rose as one, Kedwells header flew off his head and over. With mere minutes remaining some Dons fans (like me) saw this as an opportunity to watch the last few minutes closer to the exits in order to stand a better chance of being near the front of the queue for Bromley tickets. The Welling fans celebrated enthusiastically at the end, causing a few Dons fans near me to mutter about Cup Finals, which probably wasn’t fair to Welling, who came to The Meadow and were exceptional, played open football restricting the Dons chances and creating enough of their own to justify victory. I was perhaps a bit unfair about Wellings promotion hopes in my Match Preview on Friday, I still think they won’t catch the pack occupying the play off places at the moment, but the honesty and hard work of their players means it won’t be for lack of trying.

As for Wimbledon, it just wasn’t going to be our day today. Too many players suffered an off day and with Trumpton destroying Chelmsford 4-1, the title is effectively in their own hands too, even if it would mean them scoring a few goals. Theres now too much loaded on next weeks tricky away trip to Eastleigh, and we will do well to keep our six point gap intact over the next few games before we visit the Beveree next month. The momentum has swung in Trumptons favour this week, as it did for us last Saturday. If anyone was in doubt that there are still plenty of twists and turns left in this title race they would do well to look at the last couple of weeks in the Blue Square South, notice a pattern, and expect it to repeat itself right up to April 23rd.

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The Welling United Match Preview

Overview

There’s a football match on at The Cherry Red Records Fans Stadium on Saturday. Wimbledon v Welling. Wimbledon are doing quite well this year apparently. Everyone’s invited, but only the first 4700 are guaranteed entry. Tell all your mates. Go on. Get yourself down the ground on Saturday. You know you want to.

Home

Planet Of The Apes extra James Pullen remains our only recognised goalkeeper as Little begins his year on the sidelines following his bizarre knee injury, loanee Gindre is apparently on trial in South Africa presumably for gun smuggling or something like that, so young Jack Turner should deputise as long as he feels no ill effects after his morning game at Little League. As for outfield players, before TB speaks later its pretty much guesswork and paper talk as to who is fit for tomorrow. With quality signings providing cover and competition in pretty much all areas of the squad (although we can be pretty sure Conroy will start tomorrow…) I’m wondering whether its worth bothering to worry that much about it. Although we should get more of an idea of the starting lineup later in the day when TBs Friday update appears on the Official Site, one player definitely not featuring tomorrow as confirmed by the FAs Suspended Player List is one ‘Benjamin Judge’ due to him taking justice into his own hands at Weston. One bonus on the list (which can be found here http://www.thefa.com/TheFA/Disciplinary/SuspensionLists/PendingPlayers.htm) is that Trumpton late goal specialist Francis Quarm won’t be ruining my day when I check the Blue Square Updates on my phone at approximately 5pm. I had nightmares about ‘Hampton Quarm 90’ for a long time… Incidentally Trumpton are building a new stand to enable them to compete in the playoffs, so on our visit there next month we’ll be able to see exactly what you can make from scaffolding, Meccano and a few dozen remoulded buckets.

Away

Technically still in the playoff chase, yet fourteen points behind as I write albeit with a game in hand on the trio stuck on 64 points except for Hayes who they have two games in hand over. Even if they manage to repeat their 4-0 demolition tomorrow and win the games in hand, I still see an eight point gap being too much for the Wings to overturn, despite an easy run-in after tomorrow. Welling have shown a huge amount of promise this season and if they keep hold of top scorer Charlie Sheringham should be in a better position to challenge next season. Sheringham netted twice against the Dons at Park View Road in November although was dropped to the bench for last weeks game. Its at this point I am legally obliged to remind everyone that Charlies dad is the famous Teddy Sheringham, however I would add the only similarity so far between them is the high turnover of clubs, with Charlie spending his youth career hopping between Championship clubs before finding his was to Park View Road. Dons fans hoping to see more comedy from keeper Taylor after his gift in the corresponding fixture probably won’t be surprised to hear it was his last game for the club. This Welling team will certainly not be in the mood to give anything away so cheaply this time.

The Fans

Them – looking forward to it but being realistic in their expectations for travelling support, with figures of around a hundred being offered on their fans forum. You won’t be seeing them big up their support either like most other clubs at this level, neither will there be a strangely high turnout of Welling fans that most Welling regulars couldn’t recognise (pay attention Trumpton…). If they do manage three figures then that’s highly impressive for a club at this level as nearby Hayes only managed a third of that. Only Newport, Chelmsford and Bath have really impressed me with their support this season, though having said that we still haven’t had the pleasure of a visit from Team Tax, so beware the invasion come early April…

Us – 3500 minimum tomorrow, and that’s being conservative. The pull of a team looking to extend their lead at the top to twelve points, as well as the fear that it could be reduced to six and back into Trumptons hands, will hopefully be enough to tempt the ‘Pick & Choose’ brigade to turn up for the remaining four home games, and we could go close to capacity for Basingstoke and St Albans. Get there early tomorrow. Just in case.

Blue Square

Dons 1/2

Draw 11/4

Welling 9/2

As usual nothing for Dons fans to get excited over. The most promising price seems to be on the HT/FT market, with the very likely Draw/AFC Wimbledon currently 16/5. The Correct Score market seems to favour Dons winning 1-0 or 2-0 with 11/2 offered. Optimistic bet of the week is the 400/1 quoted for Welling to win 5-2, 6-0, or 6-1… so get your 20p’s on them as you’ll need cheering up if a disaster like that happens…

The Anonymous Opinion

For some reason I haven’t been worried about this one at all. I have it down as a nailed on home win. Perhaps its something to do with our home form being so good, we just don’t expect to drop points at TCRRFS. Perhaps the pre-match nerves will kick in come the morning, or on my way to the game? Dropping any kind of points tomorrow could be potentially disastrous depending how Trumpton get on against Chelmsford. We’ve seen in recent weeks how determined TB has been not to let this slip now, and the squad is too professional to allow this to happen. Newly added strength in depth will be more than enough to get us over the line, and an important step will be taken tomorrow. I’m going for 2-0 Dons, and after cursing poor Chris Hussey last week I’m playing it safe this time with both goals coming from Jon Main.

Come On You Dons.

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The Final Seven (The Run-In Previewed…)

Last summer, following the euphoria surrounding our dramatic playoff victory at Staines, opinion seemed to be pretty universal on how competitive we were expected to be this term. The word ‘consolidation’ was being bandied around more often than a lunchtime advert on Living TV. And consolidate we did, ensuring our league survival by Christmas. By then we had allowed our heads to be turned by a much bigger prize.

Promotion to the Conference National is so close I now can’t see us not playing there next season. Failure now could be our most painful experience as football fans. While the odds seem overwhelming, I always seem drawn to Hugh Everitt IIIsMany-worlds theory, which as a master wordsmith I could obviously explain to you simply myself, yet why should I bother when someone has already written on on Wikipedia for the layman. And as I am wearing the Wikipedia t-shirt I got for Xmas, I may as well just cut and paste that for you. It is defined as “there is a very large, perhaps infinite, number of universes and that everything that could possibly happen, or could possibly have happened, in our universe (but doesn’t) does happen in some other universe(s).”

Considering this, you can perhaps see why my bedroom ceiling has been examined at great detail as I lie awake at night pondering the implications. From the position we are in now, we should win the league in the majority of outcomes (assuming that Welling winning 13-4 or something ridiculous on Saturday is an outcome that could not possibly happen). I’ve always thought there was something a little funny about the world we exist in. For all we know we could be about to witness something unlikely. Something weird, like Chelmsford managing to clinch the title after appearing to throw it all away in February. If the unlikely happens, we will be picking up the pieces well into next season. Perhaps. Maybe I should stop being such a doom monger and just preview the games?

WELLING (HOME) 21st MARCH

The slayers of Trumpton head to The Meadow on Saturday looking for another scalp to reinvigorate their playoff hopes. I’ll be giving a comprehensive preview on Friday (just like last weeks comprehensive ‘effort’, haha!), but for now I predict a similar game to Hayes or Worcester. Tight, and 2-0

EASTLEIGH (AWAY) 28th MARCH

They’ve come a long way since their early season blips in August, getting tonked in consecutive away games at Bromley (1-5!) and St Albans (0-5!!!), and had really turned things around by the time they became the first and to date only team to win at TCRRFS in the league this season. Despite their easy looking run in they will probably fall well short of the title. May clinch second with a good run, but at the moment can relax slightly as they are pretty much nailed on to feature in the playoffs. A draw will be a fantastic result for both teams, so Ill go for 1-1, but expect Our Dons to be hanging on come the final whistle as Eastleigh press in an effort for the extra points from a win that will make them the only team to do the double over us this season.

TEAM BATH (HOME) 4th APRIL

Team Tax have been inconsistent recently, and appalling in their last few fixtures including crashing 0-3 at revival team Bognor. With results like that they could be effectively be playing out the season as their hopes at the moment are as small as their fanbase (whatever happened to the five thousand screaming knob-heads that turned up to that FA Cup game a few years ago? They should give every student a free season ticket, as not only would they get some kind of atmosphere but if they work out their attendance like we do they could get some cracking ‘crowds’ down there). TTwere something of an unknown quantity this season, and after shocking everyone withtheir start, slipped down the table as winter kicked in. While possessing some obviously talented players, you have to question whether Tax will ever have the strengthin depth to challenge for promotion from this league, and perhaps they have found their level. Yet one thing we have found out during our six year AFC adventure is there is nothing a player that normally plays in front of 200 likes better than having a good game against a club that pulls in 3000 every week. For that reason we must fear Tax turn up on a bad day for us and turn us over, as they have the potential to do so. However I have been impressed by the professionalism and battling qualities of our Dons this year, even during our recent poor form. This is the earliest we can win the league, and as I’ll be across the pond that day I suggest the likelihood of us winning it after this one as quite high, unless a few other Dons have booked holidays across the playoffs, in which case we won’t win it at all. My prediction… 1-0.

BASINGSTOKE TOWN (HOME) 10th APRIL

How long ago does it seem since our August trip down the mainline to the Town of Many Malls? Our fourth game and our fourth win was easier than the 1-0 scoreline suggested, it wasn’t hard then to see ‘Stokes season was going to be a struggle. Relegation seems to have been staved off by a run of decent results, leaving them clear and the survival hopes of the bottom three seem to have less life in them than Natasha Richardson at the moment. Either way a home game against a team at the bottom should never be a problem for a team gunning for the title, and I’m going for a 3-0 Dons win.

BROMLEY (AWAY) 13th APRIL

Ah! Our old friends Bromley! You remember them, from Ryman One, and that playoff semi-final two years ago? Whatever happened to them? They rolled up at TCRRFS on Bank Holiday Monday back in August as genuine rivals, boasting the likes of Nic McDonnell and Danny ‘You can’t afford me!’ Hockton. The large posteriored hit man Hocktonfound himself back at The Meadow on the end of a thumping with Braintree, with Hocktonmore interested on telling the John SmithStand what he’s been spending his extra £50 a week on. And with McDonnell taking a break from football its been down to ex-Sutton striker Warren McBean to bang the goals in, currently well behind in second place in the scoring charts to our own Jon Main. Inconsistency has been Bromleys problem this year, just not showing enough form for a play-off push, however they are going to pull out all the stops for the visit of their larger and more illustrious near neighbours (that’s us by the way). As its such an awkward place to go I’m sure of a high scoring draw, 2-2.

TRUMPTON NOT RICHMOND (AWAY) 18th APRIL

It could be all over by now, but if there’s anything left to play for Trumpton are going to give it their agricultural best when the Big Boys make the long three mile journey from the Metropolis to the village, almost doubling the population in the space of a few hours. Trumptons super-skinny squad should be absolutely knackered by this time, and I think it won’t be the close encounter many are suggesting. If the titles still on for them and they decide to play a more open game Trumptoncould seriously get stuffed if Wimbledon are in the mood. I’m going for 3-0 and the title if the villagers are still in contention, with a 1-0 Dons win should we have won it already.

ST ALBANS CITY (HOME) 25th APRIL

Its very likely that we will know our destiny by now, and our final game of the season could be a farewell to the Blue Square South, hopefully forever. If we need any kind of result the complexion changes and it becomes brown trousers time. Imagine if we need a draw to be certain and it was still 0-0 with ten minutes to go? It’ll be the longest ten minutes of our lives. Comfortable in mid table, the Stalebunscan play withno pressure, and could cause problems up against a nervy defence. If the league has been won by now it’ll be even worse, an end of season game played at zero pace, with the crowd tiring towards the end spending their time waiting for the trophy to be presented and the players running around in Blue Square We Are Going Up t-shirts. I won’t make any predictions on this one except whatever happens, we can guarantee the crowd is going to be over 4000. Then have to worry about crowds like that being the norm rather than exceptions for our first season back in a national league.

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