AFC Wimbledon 1-2 Colne
MISSED CHANCES AND lapses in concentration cost the Dons dear as they exited the FA Vase to a combative Colne side at Kingsmeadow.
The warning signs were already there as Martin made an early stop and Howarth found himself clean through, but scuffed his shot at goal. The visitors seemed to be first to every ball in midfield and started much the brighter of the two sides. They earned their reward on just ten minutes, when Simpson somehow managed to loop the ball over a stranded Martin after a prolonged goalmouth pinball session, in which the defence spurned several chances to head clear.
Somewhat against the run of play, the Dons got back on terms almost immediately as Gray curled a low free-kick around the wall and past Baxter's despairing dive. Speaking of diving, the Colne players seemed to take great delight in tumbling theatrically, with Simpson and Howarth the worst culprits.
Gray looped a scrambled shot against the post before Howarth threw himself to the floor in the Wimbledon area, failed to win his side a penalty but earned a corner. A total absence of marking allowed Scott Gizon to head home and put the Reds into the lead once more.
Simpson produced his best, or worst, piece of acting (according to your viewpoint) as half-time neared. Penalised for deliberate handball, he threw himself to the ground in an effort to convince the referee he had been elbowed in the face. Sadly, he received neither the academy recognition nor the second caution such blatant faking deserved.
Wimbledon found much more success in the secondhalf as they played the ball to feet and enjoyed some consistent spells of pressure. Early nerves saw Martin spill a cross, but thereafter Colne spent the majority of the time pinned back, looking to snatch a third goal on the breakaway. Oakins drove a shot narrowly wide and Cooper finished a flowing six-man move with a neat one-two and a drive Baxter did very well to tip over. Terry Eames introduced Scott and Graham in an attempt to engineer an equaliser, with Bolger moving out to the right wing. His crosses created problems and Favata fired over before Gray spurned the easiest chance of the afternoon - heading against the bar when it seemed easier to score.
With Wimbledon forced to over-commit, Colne began to exploit the space left behind the Dons' back four and Simpson shot wide on the break. Then Howarth missed a glorious opportunity to seal the tie for the Northerners. A Harvey backpass was woefully short and Simpson beat the exposed Martin to the ball. His pass went forward, which must surely have meant Howarth was offside, but with a flag once more conspicuous solely by its absence, he conspired to loop a shot over the bar.
Gavin Cooper saw a yellow and red card simultaneously as the game entered injury time, although whether this was for backchat or because the officials thought he had been previously booked in the first half was never made entirely clear. But Colne saw out the last few minutes untroubled to send the Dons crashing out.
Whilst their play-acting and niggling fouling won them few friends at Kingsmeadow, they were good value for their victory as they outfought and out-muscled the home side (with the aid of the woodwork) to earn a place in the next round.