Report by Dave Boyle
I didn't know where Leatherhead was to be honest and like many coming out of the station, didn't have a clue how to get to the ground either. Luckily, someone had a map. We were saved. Lesson one - always print out the directions helpfully provided on this site. 1000 other people managed to find their way there too. Nice power station and two arched brickwork bridges on the way too, architecture fans.
The team made it there OK though, but seemed to be slightly in reverse with this performance; they could have got something out of the game, but didn't.
After the heroics against Kingstonian five nights earlier, there was an air of expectation before kick-off. That wasn't a slur upon Leatherhead, more a feeling that the team had acquired a sense of belief in themselves and felt on the verge of making the next step.
The game began with some cagey exchanges, with no team having the upper hand. Clear cut chances were few and far between, but the Dons looked threatening at times, particularly when getting the ball wide. On one such occasion, Akim Gallimore managed to nudge the ball past the last man only to be brought down. To add insult to injury, Akim had to be replaced, when his speed looked like it might threaten all day.
Half time approached, and a pre-match visit to the bar showed it to be like a sauna when packed out with thirsty fans. Like a few others, I made my way around to the bar, where two bar staff attempted to serve what seemed like the majority of SW London. Suddenly, everyone was distracted and the word came in through the door - penalty!
Decision time. Watch the penalty? Drink? I eventually made my way outside, only to find the indecision had prevented me for getting a good view. Apparently, Sully took the kick, the keeper saved it, and managed to get a hand on the rebound. I can't confirm this from my own eyes, only to say it matches the 'ooh - aahh -ohhhhh' expression of the massed ranks of bar refugees. By the time I got back I'd even lost my place in the queue. There truly is no god.
Second half. Promising. Dave Fry's got the ball on the edge of the area - the midfield are linking up well and through balls look to be a good option. Dave skips past one. Shoot! No. Beats another man. Shoot! No, takes it round the keeper and then shoots. Goal! Not quite. It's very confusing when the side netting shakes the whole goal. Bugger.
More threatening by the Dons. Daniel Jones skims the bar with a header (apparently the ref had blown up, but I didn't see anything). Then one blazes over from about 10 yards. Score in a minute? You bet. Leatherhead go down the pitch, get wide, put a cross in, and the shot gets a deflection and in. To rub salt in the wounds, they get another, as the Dons tire and heads drop. 2-0 it finishes, and the Maureen Woolridge Memorial Cup will have to wait another year.
After the first few games, there's as much a sense of carnival about games - a sense of disbelief that we're playing at all. It's not happy go lucky, but it's not far off for many. This game marks a turning point - there's a sense of injustice. We played OK - we could have played better and maybe we could have - should have? - won. They've made me annoyed and I'm frustrated. Now it's real football.