On paper, Maidenhead United seemed certain to offer the greatest resistance to the Dons unbeaten league run. They came to Kingsmeadow with a similarly unbeaten record this season, securing six narrow wins and a draw from their seven games, and with former Havant & Waterlooville striker Richard Pacquette up front, Jason Goodliffe, making his first league start of the season, looked set for a competitive afternoon.
The afternoon kicked off in fine style with the opening of the extension of the Paul Strank Stand, the presentation of a very welcome six-figure cheque by Dons legend John Scales and awards to Terry Brown and Jon Main, Manager of the month and player of the month.
Unlike the previous Saturdayís encounter with Weston Super Mare, the Dons navigated the first 73 seconds safely and settled down to their now-familiar passing game. However, the players seemed to have forgotten how to pass to each other. Thankfully, Maidenhead didnít seem to be coping much better with the onerous task of finding their team-mates, but in particular Tony Finn, Sam Hatton and Alan Inns started the game nervously, a condition that spread to the usually reliable feet of Chris Hussey and Elliott Godfrey.
Repeatedly the Dons gave possession away needlessly or were caught in possession. Kennedy Adjei and Tom Davis were holding their own in midfield but Unitedís Nicholls and Hinds were making better of the balls that they had been given. Goodliffe was keeping Pacquette quiet but worryingly Cooper and Sterling were performing a similar task on Jon Main at the other end.
With 25 minutes gone though, the Dons fans had something to cheer when Cooper handled Mainís attempted chip over his head and the referee pointed to the spot. Main dispatched the penalty to the left of former Wimbledon keeper Shane Gore and whatever it was that had prevented the Dons from passing accurately, suddenly lifted. Some fine work from Davis, in particular, and a rejuvenated Finn, panicked Unitedís midfield and full backs into some ill-timed tackles, but the only yellow card of the first half was shown to Main for a late challenge on Cooper. A one goal lead at half time was all the Dons deserved Ė would Terry change things around at half time?
The simple answer was yes. Off came the injured Hatton, on came new signing Danny Kedwell for his debut. Within minutes the former Grays Athletic striker had made himself popular, chasing lost causes, making sure Cooper and Sterling knew he was there and winning more of Andy Littleís long clearances than he lost. Whatever Terry had said at half-time had worked. Passes were reaching their target and the influence of Nicholls and Hinds was become less and less evident. A second goal was what the doctor ordered and it came on 68 minutes thanks to Tom Davis expertly converting Kedwellís pull back after a fine run by Luke Garrard. Five minutes later and Narada Bernardís legs tangled with Jon Mainís in the box and the referee was handing the prolific marksman another chance to score from 12 yards. Again he took it, for his eighth of the season and his third from the spot.
A three goal cushion was more than enough for the Dons to assert their pacier and more skilful approach to the game and three times they spurned the chance to add another to the tally as Gore made good saves from Kedwell (twice) and Main. Kedwell had earlier missed with an attempted 40-yard volley after Gore sliced a clearance into his path but the ball ended up on top of the snack van rather than in the back of the net.
With two minutes to go Pacquette did get a chance, and he took it with aplomb, sliding a Binns pass past Andy Little and into the bottom right hand corner of the net. A slight blot on the copybook but it was nothing more than a scant consolation for the now beaten visitors.
A game of two halves, seven bookings, four goals and three points for the Dons. A trip to second placed Hayes & Yeading awaits Ė a sterner test is expected, but didnít we say that last week?