Coney Hall 0 - 5 AFC Wimbledon
Good Friday came early for a large and vociferous travelling Dons support. Not one person could claim that they did not get full value for their admission money, as the Dons disposed of Coney Hall in impressive fashion to reach the CCL Cup Final. A hat-trick from Kevin Cooper and a trademark header from Matt Everard were overshadowed by another top-drawer strike from Jamie Taylor, though the Dons were aided in their cause by the early dismissal of the Coney left-back for a tug on Cooper's shirt in the penalty area.
In truth, this was a match the Dons could and should have won by a greater margin. Despite enhancing his claims for the CCL Golden Boot, Cooper was guilty of of a glorious miss, unbelievably managing to fire wide from a yard out when unchallenged in meeting a Gray cross from the right. Cooper managed to find the crossbar with his second chance, when presented by calamity keeper Tucker with a rebound from Gavin Bolger's effort as the crowd stared in disbelief. However, the referee had spotted some shirt-pulling in the box and Coney's first dismissal presented Cooper with the chance to redeem himself. He made no mistake from the penalty spot. From then on the Dons superiority would never be seriously called into question, the loss of Sullivan through injury early in the game made academic by the introduction of the resurgent Sidwell. A second goal was rapidly forthcoming, Gray the provider with a free kick won by Oakins, and Everard the executor, demonstrating his ability at set-pieces yet again.
Dons fans were now in the mood for a goal-fest and Cooper was eager to oblige as he turned away from his marker and sent a shot just inside the post, for which keeper Tucker may have been unsighted as his movements seemed delayed. Having seen most of his goal-kicks disappear into the main stand and an earlier mis-kick present the Dons with a free-kick yards from goal, Tucker's woe was compounded as Jamie Taylor scored the Dons fourth goal with a casual flicked shot, calculated to leave Tucker with no real chance and just dipped in under the crossbar. Taylor's goals since joining from Aldershot will make the end-of season video an essential purchase and he is certainly endearing himself to the fans, making the loss of captain Sheerin so much more bearable.
Ross Standen in the Dons goal made a couple of decent stops, particularly after an Everard mistake let a Coney striker through one on one, the giant keeper saving with his legs to avert the danger. In the main though, his role was that of a spectator and a similar fate befell the Coney manager who was banished from the touchline for his voluble protests to the referee, to the cries of "Sit down, shut up" from the yellow and blue masses.
In the second half his deputy walked the same path for rugby tackling the linesman (!), and the Dons finished the scoring with another Cooper goal well constructed by Sidwell. Some of the attacking moves by the Dons were a joy to watch and worthy of a considerably higher level, but lapses of concentration in defence allowed Coney's diminutive striker several opportunities straight through the middle, the bulk of Standen proving sufficient deterrent on each occasion.
Generally, the Dons were in the ascendancy and a late attack was only repelled by a Coney handball on the line from a Cooper effort, resulting in another red card for the Coney Hall collection.
Bizarrely, the penalty was taken by substitute Simon Bassey, the only regular outfield player this season not to have scored. It was certainly well-struck but had the venue been Bedfont or Feltham, I fear a low-flying aircraft may have taken a direct hit. Tucker heaved a sigh of relief and the referee blew up for full-time. The team were applauded off as the supporters contemplated the glorious possibility of a league and cup double, with only North Greenford seemingly able to throw a spanner into the works.