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Saturday 03 September 2005
Ryman League, Premier Division

East Thurrock United    1 - 1    AFC Wimbledon
(og) Wes Daly (02)
  (62) Antony Howard
 Mark Hardingham 1 Andy Little 
 Jon Turnbull 2 Wes Daly 
 Scott Holding 3 Dave Sargent 
( 72)  Mick Stanbrook 4 Wayne Finnie 
(sub 70)  Dean Palmer 5 Steve Butler 
 Dean Chandler 6 Mark Cooper 
( 59)  Lee Burns 7 Barry Moore ( 61) 
(sub 75)  Danny Harris 8 Matt York ( 53) 
 Steve West 9 Matt Fowler (sub 46) 
 Tony Boot 10 Shane Smeltz 
(sub 85)  Danny Hazelden 11 Jeff Campbell (sub 41) 
 Martin Touhy 12 Michael Woolner 
  13 Josh Lennie 
(sub 75)  Sammy Cooper 14 Craig Carley 
(sub 70)  Danny Jones 15 Antony Howard (sub 46) 
(sub 85)  Steve Harrison 16 Sonny Farr (sub 41) 
 Jamie Riley (GK) 17  

Match report

AFC Wimbledon came back from a horrific start to take a point on their second trip to Essex so far this season.

An early kick-off due to the England game seemed to weigh most heavily with the Dons. With only 2 minutes on the clock, wingback Wes Daly under very little pressure somehow put through his own net rather than clearing the ball.

With former Dons trialist Tony Boot up front for the Rocks, the 700-plus Wimbledon supporters got to see what Dave Anderson decided they would have to miss out on. A harsh judgement on this showing only would give Anderson the better of that decision.

Wimbledon never really got into their stride until shortly before half-time. East Thurrock hustled and bustled and had the better of the play, but aside from a cracking strike from a bootless Lee Burns which went over Little's bar, the Dons 'keeper dealt comfortably with everything that was thrown at him.

With 41 minutes gone AFC Wimbledon midfielder Jeff Campbell had to go off with an injury to his groin. Sonny Farr replaced him, making his first appearance of the season. Immediately the Dons seemed to perk up and before the referee blew his half time whistle a free-kick from Moore went very close - close enough to deceive half the crowd who thought the equaliser had come.

Half time saw a clearly struggling Matt Fowler replaced, with Antony Howard coming on and a reshuffle in the Wimbledon line-up. The improvement seen before half-time continued and the Dons looked much stronger. Leading scorer Shane Smeltz created an opening for himself but his shot from the edge of the box was tipped round the post by Rocks 'keeper Hurlingham.

Apparently Antony Howard started out as a striker, and all his early learning was needed to keep a cool head when the decisive chance fell to him with 62 minutes gone. Wes Daly made up for his earlier blunder by breaking down the left and putting in a cross with the Kent womble steered home with a deft touch.

The Dons continued to dominate the second half at least as decisively as the home side had the first but the winner which looked on the cards never came. With the referee seemingly plucking extra stoppage time out of the air, the last serious attempt fell to Shane Smeltz. Through with only the 'keeper to beat, the whole of the Wimbledon faithful were sure he would convert, but the ball sat up just as he struck it and the shot went over the East Thurrock bar.

As the whistle finally sounded, and the crowd trooped into the bars to watch the international match, there was relief at remaining unbeaten, but disappointment that a promising second half had not produced three points.

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