AFC Wimbledon 4 - North Greenford United 1
SOMETIMES it's hard to sum a game up in a few words, harder still to sum up an evening. North Greenford United gave the Dons an almighty scare and it was never easy, but AFC Wimbledon eventually triumphed by a flattering 4-1 scoreline to complete the CCL Double at Woking last night.
So much for the game, but if you weren't there, it's nigh on impossible to do justice to the evening. Standing on the small terrace behind North Greenford's goal in the first half, watching the full cavernous stand at the other end sway in a sea of blue and yellow, songs ringing around four sides of the ground, it seemed impossible this was a level eight cup final. Lump in the throat stuff and another coming of age day for the club.
To begin at the beginning, in the preparation the players were surprisingly quiet, by their own standards possibly even a little nervous. North Greenford set their stall out to defend fairly deep, close the Dons midfield and fullbacks down, and look to hit on the break.
After some early half-chances, which primarily fell to Cooper, and a Taylor effort disallowed for offside, it was the underdogs who struck first. A left-wing cross found Reed in the area in space and he fired home for a shock lead on 18 minutes.
But within a minute, Gavin Bolger brought the Dons level. Andy Sullivan's cross fell to him on the penalty spot and he swivelled to fire underneath Jallow.
The Dons were struggling to impose themselves on the game in their normal fashion, largely thanks to some excellent Greenford defending and harrying. Cooper was denied twice more by Jarrow, who also tipped a mishit Gibson cross over. Gray had the best remaining chance of the half after Cooper's cross-cum-shot deflected across Jarrow, but couldn't connect cleanly and the keeper got across to tip it wide. At the other end, Ashley Leenders fired straight at Standen as half-time came with the score 1-1.
In the second-half, the fans grew increasingly anxious as the scores remained level. Lee Sidwell replaced Sullivan as the Dons looked to make the breakthrough. A huge kick from Standen bounced clear of the defence and Cooper's shot beat Jallow, but rolled wide of the post.
Finally, on 64 minutes, the Caveman made the breakthrough as so often this season. Lee Sidwell was fouled as a corner was cleared, and Jamie Taylor floated a great cross to the back post for Everard to head home.
Taylor continued to torment Greenford, stretching the defence with an array of clever flicks and slide-rule passes. He set up Sidwell, whose low cross eluded Cooper but was scrambled behind by Jallow with Gray in attendance. On 72 minutes, Taylor ran down the left-wing and supplied a sublime low diagonal cross which Cooper gleefully sent back across Jallow from the edge of the six yard box.
3-1 should have made the game safe, but only an astonishing miss kept the Dons in the clear. Standen raced out of his area and was well beaten as the ball was slid past him. The North Greenford substitute just needed to tap it home at the back post but somehow blazed over an empty net.
Thereafter the Dons held on reasonably comfortably and added a fourth in injury time. Bolger seemed well offside on the right, but the flag stayed down and his cross enabled Cooper to round Jallow and complete the scoring.
The final whistle sparked jubilant scenes and the majority of the crowd came onto the pitch to see the trophy presentation in the Main Stand and applaud a gallant Greenford effort. With the team already all clutching their trophies, Matt Everard and Joe Sheerin put one hand each on the cup and held it aloft to a rapturous reception.
Credit should be given to North Greenford ? possibly the nicest and friendliest team in the league ? who played a major part in a very entertaining and clean game, but the night belonged yet again to the Dons, and the celebrations at Kingsmeadow were long and loud.