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Saturday 04 April 2009
Blue Square Football Conference South

AFC Wimbledon    2 - 0    Team Bath
Kezie Ibe (52)
Tom Davis (90)
 James Pullen 1 Jake Meredith 
 Jay Conroy 2 Matt Lock 
 Chris Hussey 3 Greg Lake 
(sub 87) ( 47)  Dwane Lee 4 Dan Dillon ( 61) (sub 62) 
 Ben Judge 5 Gary Warren 
 Jake Leberl 6 Sami El-Abd 
 Samuel Hatton 7 Dean Smith 
 Tom Davis 8 Matk Canham 
 Danny Kedwell 9 Tom Piotronski (sub 53) 
(sub 76)  Jon Main 10 Matt Cooper 
(sub 64)  Kezie Ibe 11 Takumi Ake (sub 72) 
(sub 64)  Elliott Godfrey 12 Ben Thomson (sub 72) 
 Nick Gindre 13 Darren Chitty 
 Rob Saunders 14 Shaun Benison (sub 53) 
(sub 87)  Michael Haswell 15 Mike Perrott (sub 62) 
(sub 76)  Anthony Finn 16 Andy Caton 

Match report

The Dons returned to winning ways in the face of studious resilience from Team Bath and one of the strangest refereeing decisions in living memory.

After two successive defeats no-one connected with AFC Wimbledon was doubting how important a victory against Team Bath would be. Not only had the Dons lost two games in a row, they hadn't played to anything like their full potential in either game, and with Hampton & Richmond, Eastleigh and Hayes & Yeading all on impressive winning streaks, the pressure was on.

Terry Brown was without Jason Goodliffe and Alan Inns, so opted to pair Ben Judge and Jake Leberl at the centre of the defence and reverted to his early season 4-3-3 formation, with Kezie Ibe joining 46-goal partnership Jon Main and Danny Kedwell up front. The unlucky Rob Saunders joined his fellow evictees from the number 11 shirt, Elliott Godfrey and Anthony Finn, on the bench.

Team Bath. managed by former QPR and Bristol Rovers defender Andy Tillson, hadn't come to help the Dons cause, but neither did they seem overly ambitious in their approach, getting at least nine men behind the ball at every opportunity and denying the Dons any space to create chances. Defenders Warren and El-Abd looked assured and had the measure of Main and Ibe, forcing Kedwell to drop back into a deeper role in his attempt to affect the game.

With Team Bath's lack of cutting edge, the game ebbed and flowed until one side or the other side reached the final third, and then any promise of an attacking threat was nullified by poor crosses or wrong decisions. A Main header on 25 minutes that flew 15 yards wide was the Dons' best chance of the opening half-hour, but Judge and Leberl were coping just as easily with the visitors' Piotronski and Cooper.

With three minutes of the half remaining, the Dons should have taken the lead. Ibe found himself one on one with keeper Meredith and had to decide quickly whether to try to round the onrushing stopper or sidefoot the ball past him into the bottom corner. Unfortunately he chose a third way and attempted to lob Meredith, but got it all wrong and shinned the ball into the air, presenting the keeper with the simplest of saves.

Seven minutes into the second half, he made up for his error. The Dons' best move of the game saw Dwane Lee play a delightful ball down the right flank into the path of Jay Conroy, who broke into the box and sidefooted a pinpoint pass into the six-yard area, where Ibe applied a calm finish for 1-0. 52 minutes of ineffective huffing and puffing and two simple passes had undone the Students.

The visitors then threw caution to the wind by taking off their centre-forward and bringing on another one, a sure sign that a draw was what they had come for, but with Tom Davis back to something like his best, the Dons were intent on making sure they left with nothing. But chances were still hard to come by, and 10 minutes after scoring Ibe was off, replaced by Godfrey and with half of the half left, Main also got the hook and Antony Finn came on in his place.

Finn shortly became involved in one of the strangest refereeing decisions you will ever see. A long James Pullen clearance bounced over everyone, and the impressive Warren watched it carefully before steering his header back to Meredith, under pressure from Finn. However, the defender hadn't reckoned on his keeper being six feet behind him, and the two collided heavily as the ball trickled over the line for a corner. But amazingly, both the referee and the linesman on the near side awarded a goal kick, much to the bemusement of everyone in the ground. Whether or not Team Bath took this as a sign that luck was on their side is debatable, but suddenly Canham and Cooper conjured a couple of half-chances out of nothing, and the Dons, who just minutes before had seemed set for a comfortable victory, now looked edgy.

A head injury to Pullen with just a minute left on the clock, and just 60 seconds after Brown had made his final substitution, was cause for concern, but the keeper emerged with his blond mane tamed by a swathe of bandages, much to everyone'e relief. Even more relieving, though, would be a second goal. Finn's 20-yard effort flew narrowly wide on 90 minutes, but that second goal did arrive, seconds into injury time and thanks largely to another odd decision.

A volley from Godfrey was so wild that it threatened to go out of play for a throw-in on the far side, but the ball bounced on the touchline and spun out for what was surely a goal kick. Bizarrely, the referee awarded the Dons what would be the first of two corners. That was put behind by Lock; the second was only half-cleared by Smith, and Judge's long ball was pounced on by Kedwell, who fed Godfrey, and although his weak shot would have been saved, Davis was on hand to drill a shot into the net from five yards.

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