AFC Wimbledon 3 - Westfield 0
AFC Wimbledon kept the league juggernaut rolling ever onwards and moved one step closer to the Seagrave Haulage League title with a competent, comfortable yet surprisingly charmless win over Westfield at Kingsmeadow.
The visitors kept two banks of four deep in their own half, leaving two forwards to fend off scraps. Whilst this strategy was a triumph of pragmatism over romance, with 0-0 the lofty pinnacle of its ambition barring an act of defensive hari-kari by the Dons, it made it hard for the home side to stretch the play as they had done against Bedfont.
Matt Martin followed in the footsteps of previous yo-yo players Danny Roberts and Noel Frankum by returning to start in place of the departed Lee Carroll. Up front, Saturday's hat-trick man Paul Scott go the Nicky nod to start alongside Joe Sheerin rather than Kevin Cooper. This pairing lasted until a twisted knee forced the club captain off on 32 minutes. As soon as he had sorted his socks and boots out, Cooper scampered on to prove a point to acting manager Nicky English.
But despite the best efforts of the Dons attackers, some resolute defending and wayward crossing saw the score steadfastly locked at nil-nil at half-time. Robbie Pink produced a fine save to deny Darren Dobinson and, amidst a succession of half-chances and snap-shots, Ryan Gray's superbly executed volley which cannoned into the base of the near post was as close as Wimbledon came.
Nicky English explained after the game that he decided to switch to 4-3-3 at half-time to create spaces in the Westfield back four and to the this end Gray stayed up front in the second half, with Andy Sullivan tucking in slightly on the right and Seb Favata moving out to the left of the midfield three.
The opening goal was pretty much created out of nothing as Westfield player-manager John Cassidy slipped on the half-way line. Paul Scott pounced to run 40 yards with the ball and fire home past the advancing Pink on 51 minutes.
Three minutes later it was 2-0. Steve Gibson's corner floated straight in at the far post, though there was more than a suggestion that Oakins' attempts to stand firm could have constituted a foul on the Pink. The referee ignored Westfield's protestations and gave the goal, although confusion reigned for some time as to who had scored, not helped by Oakins' helpful hand gestures prompting Phillo to credit the wrong full-back with the goal originally on the PA.
Oakins was then tripped on the edge of the area, while running away from goal, and the referee pointed to the spot. Following two successful conversions, Gray kept the spot-kick duties despite Cooper's presence on the field, but hammered his effort so far over the bar his club nickname may have to change from Giggsy to Waddle.
With nine minutes remaining he atoned somewhat as Cooper cut the ball back after being set free by Frankum. He may have missed from twelve yards, but the winger made no mistake from two and powered the ball into the roof of the net for 3-0.
At the other end, Martin made one good save to deny substitute Mark Mercer, but the Dons were otherwise untroubled defensively. It may not have matched the flamboyant football of the past fortnight, but the evening's efforts saw the AFC Wimbledon goal difference reach +100 ? a fantastic achievement at any level of football.