Carshalton Athletic 1 AFC Wimbledon 4
Neil Robson, a local non-League legend and not far short of 1,000 games just below the paid ranks. Carshalton Athletic, the club he played for over 300 times in two spells and AFC Wimbledon, his current club, making their second visit to Colston Lane after the 5-0 tonking of Raynes Park Vale there at the end of last season.
AFC started with Ian Concannon, a trialist who has scored regularly for Didcot Town and AFC Wallingford, and Ali Russell up front in place of Joe Sheerin, sidelined with a chest infection, and Kevin Cooper who took a knock against Watford. Sean Daly started for the first time since his close-season injury and Noel Frankum and Simon Bassey were paired in the centre of midfield in preference to Gavin Bolger and, lest we forget, the injured Gareth Graham. Carshalton started with a strong line up, including Robson at left back, and made several pre-arranged substitutions at half time.
The first 45 minutes were very level, both sides playing some decent football without threatening the opposition goal too much, although Lee Sidwell shot wide after 20 minutes and five minutes later Ali Russell chased down the keeper only for the rebound to bounce wide. The Robins' only chance was a run and cross from the byline that was mishandled by Ray Merry, but he covered the resultant shot well. Andy Sullivan brought the crowd to life with ten minutes of the half remaining when he went on a 20 yard run, shimmying past several opposition players, before shooting across the goal and wide.
Carshalton started the second half with several substitutions, and this seemed to throw their game plan a little astray. Dons however, in particular Russell and Sullivan, were really up for it, and only two minutes into the half they made the advantage count, Russell crossing from the right for Concannon to smartly bring the ball down and coolly side-foot the ball home. Another Sullivan run and shot wide just before the hour confirmed the Dons superiority, but with just over twenty minutes to go it was one apiece, Matt York picking the ball up a good twenty five yards out and crashing the ball past the stranded Merry. Dons hit back within two minutes, Lee Sidwell robbing the keeper on the right edge of the box and easily passing the ball into an empty net. Neil Robson and Ben Chesters came on with fifteen minutes remaining and a minute later the match turned. Matt Everard was harshly punished for some handbags after a strong challenge thirty yards out, but the free-kick from Carshalton was clattered against the crossbar with Merry stranded. Dons thanked their good fortune with a five minute purple spell. On 79 minutes Concannon headed over from close in, three minutes after and Neil Robson's corner was lashed home at the near post by Danny Oakins and just two minutes later Concannon completed the scoring, heading home a superb cross from Darren Dobinson.
Although not as comprehensive as the score-line might suggest, this was still a fine victory for the Dons and, on the back of the win at Dorchester, augers extremely well for the coming season.