In very unpleasant conditions, the Dons were the victims of their first giant killing in the FA Trophy at the hands of Uxbridge from the Southern Division One South & West. After a pitch inspection before kickoff, the referee deemed it to be of a suitable standard to play on. The home side included Mark Nicholls whose two goals had knocked out the Dons in the same competition four seasons prior when he was at Hendon.
The Dons lined up in a new system playing with Michael Haswell coming into a back three and Tony Finn playing at right wingback. Belal Aiteouakrim was preferred to Jon Main up front.
The Dons started off the brighter and nearly took the lead in the first five minutes. Danny Kedwell raced onto a chip over the defence by Dwane Lee, and managed to carve out space for himself but his shot dribbled along the muddy surface and safely into the keeper’s hands. A few minutes late Kedwell should have put the Dons one up when he got in front of his man at the near post to Chris Hussey’s cross from the left, but didn’t get enough accuracy as he saw his header sail over the bar. The surface was proving to be a real hindrance to the Dons usual passing style, and it told when Sam Hatton was gifted a one-on-one with the keeper but wasn’t able to take advantage as the ball stuck in the mud as he tried to break away.
Kedwell was involved again on 14 minutes when Aiteouakrim had the best chance of the half. Aiteouakrim’s brilliant first touch from Kedwell’s through ball took him one-on-one with Paul McCarthy in the Uxbridge goal, however, the striker took too much time on the ball and McCarthy was able to block his shot. Aiteouakrim was certain not to make the same again on 19 minutes. A poor ball back to the keeper was charged down by Aiteouakrim and kindly fell into Kedwell’s path, who unselfishly squared for the better placed Aiteouakrim to finish past McCarthy. That took Aiteouakrim’s tally to three goals in two games in the competition.
The Dons seemed to sit back on that lead and were also prevented from getting any sort of shot in on goal with the Uxbridge defence putting their bodies on the line to block anything that was thrown at them. The next chance came on the half hour, Hussey’s well struck shot clipped a defender and over the bar. From the resulting corner, Jason Goodliffe had his shot blocked and kicked away from danger only to be knocked back to Lee just outside the area, who could only chip wide of the far post.
With the Dons unable to get any rhythm in their play, Uxbridge saw this as their opportunity to hit back with their first real attack of the match. A mix up on the right caught Finn short and as the ball was taken past him, the Dons defence were left exposed down that side. This gave Dave Thomas plenty of time to pick one of two Uxbridge players at the far post and Johnnie Dyer was happy to oblige by heading Uxbridge level with just over five minutes of the half to go.
With a couple minutes of the half to go, Uxbridge nearly stole of the lead before half time when one of their corners was flicked on at the near post and flashed across the goalmouth. The Dons replied with a couple of late corners of their own but they came to no avail.
Ben Judge replaced Finn at the halftime interval and went straight into the right wingback position. The Dons started the second half with a couple of good chances, the best of which being a powerful Hussey shot from 25 yards, but it was always going wide. Uxbridge then had a very good chance themselves from a freekick ten yards from the halfway line. The ball was crossed towards the far post, it evaded everyone but fortunately Andy Little managed to push it away before it crept into the top corner.
Uxbridge persisted on attacking and it paid off on 64 minutes. The ball was played down the left channel to Lee Tunnell with Goodliffe in close attendance. The Dons captain didn’t read the surface well and in trying to keep the Uxbridge player at bay, he slipped allowing Tunnell to stride into the area and simply lay the ball to Dyer to score with ease.
Going for broke, Goodliffe was replaced by Jon Main and it nearly paid off immediately. Kedwell latched onto a ball down the right channel and sent a deep first time cross to Main at the far post who could only head at the keeper.
With fifteen minutes to go, Uxbridge nearly extended their lead when another good ball across goal from the left was cleared away by Haswell who narrowly avoided putting the ball into the back on his own net.
With time and options running out, Godfrey came on for Lee to make it four up front. Uxbridge limited the Dons to a series of half chances, first Kedwell saw an opportunity with McCarthy off his line, but the keeper retreated back in time to gather his lob. Then Uxbridge conceded a foul right on the edge of the penalty area. Hussey’s freekick was cleared but came back to Hatton whose shot was well blocked by the defence and gathered by McCarthy as the ball broke loose.
With the Dons desperate for that elusive equaliser, the game turned a bit nasty when Alan Inns went in for a challenge with the keeper and clipped him with the ball in his hands. All the Uxbridge players surrounded Inns and the brawl continued for several minutes with the referee standing back and hoping for it to calm down by itself. It resulted with Inns being shown a straight red, and Hussey and Hatton being booked for dissent.
Despite the Dons rallying and creating a flurry of last minute shots on goal, the Uxbridge defence remained stout and withheld to the end for a well deserved victory.