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Saturday 30 April 2005
Ryman League, Division One

Burgess Hill Town    1 - 3    AFC Wimbledon
Nick Sullivan (75)
  (36) Antony Howard
(50) Martin Randall
(79) Gavin Bolger
 John Sullivan 1 Matt Martin 
 Nick Sullivan 2 Antony Howard (sub 60) 
 Matt Piper 3 Charlie Bunce 
(sub 81)  Sean Edwards 4 Jon-Barrie Bates (sub 46) 
 Tom Edmonds 5 Mark Cooper 
 Kevin Townsend 6 Jon Boswell 
 Steve Harper 7 Richard Butler (sub 50) 
 Alex Robinson 8 Gavin Bolger 
(sub 72)  Darragh Ryan 9 Martin Randall 
 Leo Day 10 Mark King 
(sub 78)  Matt Geard 11 Chris Gell 
 Simon Bristow 12 Michael Woolner (sub 46) 
(sub 78)  Owen Callaghan 14 Steve Butler 
(sub 72)  Lloyd Cotton 15 Ryan Gray (sub 60) 
 Dave Soutar 16 Leon McDowall (sub 50) 
(sub 81)  Darin Kilpatrick 17 Danny Naisbitt 

Match report

AFC Wimbledon manager Dave Anderson sent out his Champions for their final match of the league season at Burgess Hill with at least one eye on the Cup Final next Tuesday.

First team regulars Woolner, Steve Butler, Gray and Naisbitt were left on the bench, with Ursell and Smeltz rested completely.

In their place came Charlie Bunce and Jon Boswell in defence and Mark King up front, all making their full first team debuts in a 3-4-3 formation.

Bunce looked a little uneasy at first, as the home side pressed down his flank, but all three youngsters settled well after the opening quarter and impressed throughout.

Richard Butler was closest to giving the Dons an early lead, but his header on 6 mins from Randall's cross hit the post.

Antony Howard may not look like a natural wingback, but he was enjoying alot of space on the right flank and should have opened the scoring on 28 minutes. He advanced unchallenged into the area, but home keeper John Sullivan was able to beat away his shot.

That man Howard eventually made the Hillians ( and the Kent Wombles who sponsor him ) pay with the opening goal on 36 minutes. Another charge down the right flank saw Howard in acres of space to drive an accurate shot across keeper Sullivan into the net.

Howard almost doubled the Dons lead before the break, only for his 43rd minute header to rebound off the crossbar.

Comfortable with a single goal lead, manager Dave Anderson introduced Micky Woolner for Jon-Barrie Bates at the start of the second period.

Before long the game was as good as over, as the Dons took a two goal lead on 50 minutes. Initially Richard Butler looked to be offside as Randall's pass set him clear, but play continued and Butler crossed for King , only for Sullivan to parry his point blank effort. The rebound fell to Butler, who crashed a shot onto the bar, for Randall to cooly slot the rebound home.

At 2-0 ahead, the Dons were well in control and the home side looked tired and in need of the final whistle. Richard Butler was taken off with the Cup Final in mind, allowing Leon McDowell to take his turn at harrying a weary looking defence.

With Howard replaced by Ryan Gray on the hour, Bunce moved to right wing back, with Gray slotting in on the left.

Chances continued to come and go for the Dons, with Randall and King combining well up front. Home keeper Sullivan helped keep the score respectable when producing an excellent stop from Randall, who had met King's cross with an excellent half volley.

With little to lose and the season's finishing line in sight, the home side threw substitutes on and pushed full back Nicky Sullivan into the forward line. It was Sullivan who then pulled a goal back for Burgess Hill in unlikely fashion, when his cross swirled over Matt Martin and dropped inside the far post.

Coming on 75 minutes, this goal may have given the Hillians hope of levelling the scores and in fact Sullivan should have done so soon afterwards, but he sent a free header wide of goal.

As so often this season though, the Dons were able to reassert themselves clinically and close the game out. On 78 minutes Gavin Bolger broke down the left and calmly slotted the ball past Sullivan from 15 yards. The goal - apparently Bolger's first of the whole campaign - provoked mass celebrations on the touchline from players and management alike.

The Dons closed the game out in the ascendancy and but for keeper Sullivan's reflexes, could easily have won by a greater margin.

So AFC Wimbledon finish the season as they started it, with a convincing win in bright sunshine, confirming their rightful place as Ryman League 1 Champions - top from the first day to the last.

Special praise is due today to all three Dons debutants - two of whom have progressed from the championship winning U-18's into the first team in a matter of weeks.

Roll on Tuesday night for the chance of revenge against Walton & Hersham

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