And so it is that the Surrey Senior Cup will still be found at The Fans? Stadium next season. Unfortunately for Dons fans, it is the name Kingstonian that will be etched upon it, following a dismal 1-0 defeat to our geographically closest of rivals.
A healthy 3,300 or so Dons fans filled Woking's Kingfield stadium will yellow and blue for the club's third consecutive cup final appearance in a game in which Wimbledon started as clear favourites against a side who finished outside the play-off positions in Ryman One. However, the Dons had appeared battle weary in the previous week?s play-off encounter with Fisher, and the queue outside physio Mike Rayner?s office spoke volumes about the injury problems at the club.
As it was, Shane Smeltz and Dwayne Plummer returned to the squad following their suspensions, while Scott Curley began the suspension he'd earned for a straight red at Hendon several weeks earlier.
On the night, Dave Anderson went 4-4-2, welcoming back Wes Daly in centre midfield following a knee injury lay-off, and opting for Dwayne Plummer and Robert Ursell on the wings. Micky Woolner continued at right back, while Tony Battersby came in as Paul Barnes? strike partner. Richard Butler, who had suffered a reaction to his groin injury, was deemed fit enough only for a place on the bench.
And the creaking Dons side were up against a determined-looking Ks, and a series of weak challenges and needless free-kicks soon saw Ks gain the upper hand.
And Kingstonian almost took the initiative when diminutive winger Martyn Lee drove an early free-kick just wide of Andy Little's post. The Dons looked to hit back in the next move of the game, only for Woolner's first-time drive from the edge of the box headed off the line by a well-positioned defender. But just as the Dons looked to be press forward, Ks took the lead. Little came out to clear a long ball to the edge of his box but was hauled up for handball. Lee again stepped up and his strike deflected off the Wimbledon wall to leave the keeper with no chance. Lee followed up with an exuberant celebration in front of the Dons' fans - which would later result in an official apology - but the damage was done.
The Dons came out for the second period looking to up the tempo, and looked to have a bit more spring in their step. Within seconds of the restart, Rob Ursell fed Tony Battersby who bore down on goal with only the advancing keeper to beat. Unfortunately, the ball bobbled just as he was about to hit it and his lob first beat the keeper only to then evade the bar by a clear yard. Dave Sargent, pushed on, then combined well with Battersby and Ursell to play in Dwayne Plummer, only for the winger?s shot to be beaten out by a wall of Kingstonian defenders.
Paul Barnes was next to try his luck, getting on the end of a Wayne Finnie long throw only to see his left foot volley fly wide. With the clock ticking, Anderson threw on striker's Richard Butler and Shane Smeltz - in place of midfielders Plummer and Daly ? as a last throw of the dice. Almost immediately, Butler went close, getting on the end of a delightful chip from Ursell, only to somehow end up heading over the bar from inches out. Seconds later, Smeltz saw his goalbound shot hit the ankles of teammate Dean Brennan rebound to safety.
At the end of the 90 the Dons had given their all, but the game had proved a second match too far at the end of a long hard season. Kingstonian took home the bragging rights on this occasion, leaving the Dons trophyless for the first time in three seasons. Having reached the Ryman Premier League play-offs and a cup final, the season was a veritable case of ?so near and yet so far?. However, with the squad shaping up nicely towards the business end of the season, things certainly look promising for 2006-7.