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Tuesday 27 July 2004
Friendly - Senior

Gravesend & Northfleet    1 - 1    AFC Wimbledon
Roy Essandoh (78)
  (16) Gavin Bolger
 Charlie Mitten 1 Danny Naisbitt 
(sub 82)  [15] James Pinnock 2 Steve Gibson 
(sub 70)  Justin Skinner 3 Darren Dobinson 
(sub 46)  Graham Porter 4 Chris Gell 
(sub 68)  Manny Omoyinmi 5 Matt Everard (sub 62) 
(sub 46)  [16] Lee Protheroe 6 Antony Howard 
(sub 46)  Steve McKimm 7 Seb Favata 
 Jay Saunders 8 Gavin Bolger 
(sub 46)  [19] Chris Moore 9 Richard Butler (sub 62) 
(sub 46)  Jimmy Jackson 10 Jamie Taylor 
 Roy Essandoh 11 Ryan Gray (sub 46) 
 Sam Mott 12 Martin Randall (sub 62) 
  13 Paul Smith 
(sub 46)  Ben Surey 14 Lewis Taylor 
 [23] Andy Drury 15 Steve Butler (sub 62) 
(sub 68)  [25] Moussa Sidibe 16 Chris Head 
(sub 70)  Romauld Boliadj 17 Jones Bamfo 
(sub 46)  Lee Shearer 18 Robert Ursell (sub 46) 
(sub 46)  [2] Lee Gledhill 19  
(sub 46)  [31] Matt Rouse 20  
(sub 46)  [6] Francis Duku 21  
(sub 82)  [9] Jamie Wood 22  

Match report

Wimbledon snatched an early lead but eventually settled for a share of the honours at Gravesend & Northfleet.

Dave Anderson shuffled his pack, but stuck with what was basically a 3-5-2 formation as Wimbledon faced their second conference opposition in four days. Everard joined Gell and Howard in the back three, with Dobinson and Gibson as wing-backs and Gray, Bolger and Favata as the midfield three.

Both keepers came out to claim the ball in a stretched opening and Jamie Taylor sent a weak shot wide. Gravesend were severely unlucky not to take the lead, when Omoyinmi skinned his man and put a great cross in, only for Pinnock?s unmarked header to cannon off the bar and into the grateful arms of Danny Naisbitt.

The Dons then almost went ahead at the other end, as Mitten couldn?t hold a Gray shot from distance, but he managed to block the rebound behind as Taylor and Butler closed in.

On 16 minutes, the Dons carved their hosts open to take the lead, as Taylor laid a slide-rule pass for Bolger, who sprinted clear and calmly slotted the ball past Mitten from the edge of the area for a finish as clinical as the through ball.

The goal had come somewhat against the run of play, and certainly against the general tide of possession, but Wimbledon managed to hold out till the half-time whistle fairly comfortably. Naisbitt easily held a header from distance by Essandoh and then produced an extraordinary flying kick to deny an attacker in a goalmouth scramble following a corner.

Right midfielder Pinnock, the pick of the bunch for the home side in the opening period, slanted a great run across the area before driving narrowly over, a worryingly close shave which apparently necessitated a change of shorts from Seb Favata.

The Dons managed to weather the pressure and broke effectively ? only a cynical last-ditch challenge from Moore prevented Butler storming into the area on the goal-line after winning a physical tussle from a long channel ball.

A quick free-kick wasted another good home opportunity and McKimm sent a chip from the edge of the area onto the roof of the net, but the Dons held firm to enjoy a half-time cuppa ahead of higher-ranked opponents once more.

Gray was replaced by Ursell at half-time, with Gravesend making five changes.

As has been a frequent theme of these pre-season friendlies, the second half was a scrappier affair, with few chances for either side. Gravesend sent a far-post chance wide after the hour mark, but the game was largely played out in the middle of the park.

Steve Butler returned from honeymoon to replace Matt Everard in the centre of defence, with his namesake withdrawn in favour of Martin Randall just after the hour mark. Randall then sent a near-post header against the post from an Ursell cross, before the home side drew level on 78 minutes from a free-kick, as Roy Essandoh rose to head across Naisbitt at the back post.

The pace of Rouse and Sidibe stretched the Dons at last as the game drew to a close, but Butler, Howard and Gell coped well for the most part, with Naisbitt coming out well to kick clear when danger threatened on one occasion.

In the closing minutes, a combination of Naisbitt and the crossbar denied Essandoh at the back post once more and the rebound was scrambled away and then behind by Steve Butler.

But the Dons were good value to remain level and held on for a creditable 1-1 draw. The defence once more looked largely steadfast against pacy and skilful opposition, whilst the midfield held their own and the attack foraged well when opportunities fell their way. All in all another good workout as the August 14 season opener looms ever closer.

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