The Dons showed another side of their repertoire as they ripped apart the side that were the favourites for the Blue Square South title before the start of the season. Havant & Waterlooville boasted former Lewes players Paul Booth, Ian Simpemba and Gary Holloway in their line up, all of who were on Terry Brown’s most wanted list. The Dons kept the same side for the fourth game running, and the team spirit and understanding were clear to see.
The first fifteen minutes were pretty subdued and Wimbledon were restricted to two long shots from Kennedy Adeji, both of which were wide of the mark. As the half went on, the Dons' attack began to make full use of the gaps that started to creep into the visitor’s defence, and they should have taken the lead through Tony Finn. The roaming forward was sent clear through on goal by Jon Main and with only the keeper to beat, took too long and Kevin Scriven in the Hawks goal was able to block his shot for a corner. Sam Hatton then had a chance to test out his speciality long shots with the Hawks defence retreating but his effort dribbled into Scriven’s arms.
The game started to get a bit niggly with a few fouls in the midfield area. Holloway was booked on the half hour for a needless challenge on Tom Davis. Danny Kedwell then went into the book when he nearly latched onto a teasing ball into the box. His momentum took him forward and even though he barely clipped the keeper the referee deemed it worthy of a booking. Adeji was being allowed to get forward more than usual and earned his side a freekick just outside the area when he was fouled by Jamie Collins, who also received a yellow card. Hatton could not repeat his effort against Bedford and hit his freekick into the wall.
With minutes of the first half left, the Hawks almost took a timely lead. Ben Judge’s miskicked clearance ricocheted off his shoulder and into the path of Holloway, whose cross from the right narrowly missed the head of Luke Nightingale but fell kindly for Matt Gray running in from the left, who blazed his shot well wide. The last action of the half for the Dons came to Finn whose low shot from a tight angle was saved well by Scriven and the Hawks defence managed to clear under pressure from Kedwell.
The second half started very promisingly for the Dons who forced a corner within seconds. It took only three minutes of the second half before the pressure paid off and Wimbledon went a goal ahead. Kedwell fought for possession with two Hawks defenders and when the ball bounced kindly for him on the edge of the area, he had just enough time and space to strike a powerful dipping shot on the half-volley over Scriven, to the delight of the rammed Kingston Road End.
Main had the chance to add a second when he latched onto a through ball from Finn, but unfortunately could only find the side netting. A slight calamity at the back nearly saw Andy Little gift the Hawks an equaliser when he dropped a throw onto Leberl’s head but luckily saw it hit the woodwork and go out for a corner. Adeji was then involved in another Dons flowing move and after a one-two with Finn, was denied by Scriven diving to his right.
On 53 minutes Hussey broke down the left beating two men and passed for Main to double the Dons’ lead at the second attempt, smashing the ball into the bottom corner. Havant & Waterlooville almost replied immediately through a header by Holloway but Little comfortably held onto the ball. That was followed by a couple of long range efforts for each side. First Luke Garrard was allowed space to bring the ball forward only to see his swerving shot being punched away by Scriven for a corner. A minute later, Shaun Wilkinson had space 25 yards out but his powerful strike sailed inches over the bar.
Not having much luck in attack, Craig Watkins replaced Booth upfront but it was the Dons who continued to have the majority of possession. With twenty minutes to go, Adeji was desperately looking for one of his long shots to go in, especially with Havant giving him so much space in the middle of the park. He dropped his shoulder to deceive one of the Hawks’ players before firing a rasping shot with his right foot that cannoned off the inside of the post and away the wrong side of the line.
Dan Royce was brought on for Matt Gray and within minutes he stamped his authority in midfield by getting booked. Former Don Danny Webb was the final substitute for the Hawks, coming on to applause, even if a bit ironic, from both set of fans. But it was his replacement in the Dons side that sealed the game. Adeji superb first time pass under pressure found Main down the left, who skipped over Simpemba’s attempted tackle, broke into the area and then unselfishly squared for Kedwell to lift the ball over the advancing Scriven and into the net.
By this time Wimbledon had not made one substitution but within the last ten minutes had the luxury of bringing on Elliott Godfrey, Michael Haswell and Belal Aiteouakrim for Finn, Hussey and man of the match Kedwell respectively.
The next league game sees the Dons away at Chelmsford City which will arguably be the biggest test so far this season for Terry Brown’s ever confident squad. Whether spirits stay high remains to be seen after this coming weekend’s trip to Maidstone United in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.