Report by Rob Crane
After the euphoria of Sutton, this was the test. Wednesday night had been an unadulterated celebration of having a club of our own to support in defiance of Charles Koppel's schemes, a celebration of returning to our non-league roots, of having Wimbledon back. But today we would find out how sustainable the whole idea of AFC Wimbledon would be whether it would carry on thriving or whether it might risk dying a premature death.
Thankfully, the afternoon turned out to be overwhelmingly positive. The final score showed a defeat but everything else suggested that things are moving in the right direction. Despite the fact that every train station in south London had seemingly been shut for engineering works, and despite the fact that this was the first sunny Saturday for weeks, the attendance was a more than healthy 1,346
more than one thousand more than Dulwich's highest attendance last season. The vast majority were supporting the Dons but, in addition to the home support, fans of other clubs were again present, proudly turning out in their own club's shirts to give our fledgling club their backing.
The encouraging signs off the pitch were matched on it as well. The single training session held the evening after the Sutton game seemed to have helped give the squad a slightly more cohesive feel, despite the fact that players such as Dave Fry, Joe Sheerin and Dean Martin who had all impressed at Sutton were left out as Terry Eames seeks to give everyone an opportunity to impress. The presence of numbers on shirts was a welcome addition but it was still difficult to keep tabs on who was who. But then again, this wasn't really about coming to see individual players, this was about coming to see the team and, despite the lack of a cutting edge up front, they did well overall.
Dulwich scored an early goal when Wayne Cort , brother of ex-Don Carl, scored following a corner but the Dons were by no means over-run and gave a good account of themselves. Mehmet Mehmet was again a good influence in midfield and went on to win the match sponsor's man-of-the-match award. And although the first-half keeper displayed a few early nerves and dodgy kicks (well, what do you expect? We are Wimbledon, after all) he went on to give an impressive performance, coming eagerly off his line when needed and showing assured handling.
The Dons did have the ball in the back of the net during the first-half but, once again, that eagerly awaited first goal was ruled out, this time for offside. Once again a mass of substitutions were made at half-time with virtually the whole team being swapped around and the second period never quite
matched the first, either in terms of the team performance or that of individuals. But having said that, Dulwich were well marshalled and never really threatened except for one late break when Cort shot wide under pressure. Two players who did stand out though were Akim Gallimore (on for Drew Watkins at right-back) and the number 20 up front.
Somehow it never looked as if Wimbledon would score and sure enough it ended 1-0 to Dulwich. The atmosphere had once again been fantastic with everyone seeming to sense the progress which had already been made in just a few days.