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Saturday 24 August 2002
Combined Counties League Premier Division

AFC Wimbledon    3 - 2    Cove
Lee Passmore (52)
Neil Robson (54)
Lee Sidwell (88)
  (36) Scott Hannah
(53) Mark Anderson
 Andy Bell 1 Lee Edwards 
( )  Keith Ward 2 Dean Larkham 
 Danny Roberts 3 Neil Woodfer 
 Danny Oakins 4 Scott Hannah 
 Sim Johnston 5 Martin Day (sub 90) (
 Lee Sidwell 6 David Rumbles 
(sub 90)  Neil Robson 7 Steven Moss 
(sub 45)  Simon Bassey 8 Gary Smith 
(sub 90)  Joe Sheerin 9 Mark Anderson 
 Kevin Cooper 10 Justin Horner 
 Andy Sullivan 11 Mark Mercer (sub 72) 
(sub 45)  Lee Passmore 12 Lee Harvey (sub 72) (
(sub 90)  Dave Fry 14 Chris Kelly 
(sub 90)  Glen Mulcaire 15 Craig Baverstock (sub 90) 

Match report by Jason Baskaran

The gates opened at midday allowing trickles of fans to enter the ground, and to make sure that there wasn’t another major queue to delay the kick-off. This meant that nearly a thousand fans were already inside the ground by 1pm. The heat was intense and the atmosphere was building.

Having seen the Dons lose on Wednesday evening, I felt a bad sport, and didn’t want to write anything about it. I felt as though we were hard done by, and at least deserved a draw with a well-organised Chipstead side, but it was not our night.

After the start of the Cove game, it didn't look as though it would be “our day” again. A bizarre mix up caused our defender to attempt to clear the ball from the box, only to hit the post for a corner. This made the Dons look very shaky indeed.

In the 36th minute, after a few attacks from the Dons, came a goal for Cove. It was a carbon copy of the first goal scored by Kingstonian and Chipstead. After this the Dons seemed to fall asleep. The crowd were hushed, and our dream seemed to have evaporated in front of us: the dream that we would storm the league; that every attack would lead to a goal; clean sheet after clean sheet; three points after three points. Sadly, it looked as though this dream would be more like sitting mid-table and getting 1-1 draws away to Viking Greenford.

picture: Phil ShemmingsAt half time, I pictured myself in Terry Eames’ shoes; what I would do? I knew what I would do, I would tell them that there were 3,330 souls outside whose main passion was their football team, and by losing, their hearts would be crushed. Whatever Eames said it surely seemed to have a marginal affect.

A few minutes into the second half, a goal came after due effort. We celebrated jubilantly and felt as though something may be salvaged from the game. How wrong we were. Straight from the kick-off, their attack seemed to glide through our players, as though they were training cones, and slotted the ball neatly past Bell. The crowd felt sick, and the look on Eames’ face spoke a million words.
Still we kept on chanting, banging the advertising boards and cheering our team on. Within thirty seconds, a shot was blasted in and the crowd behind the goal held their arms up ready to catch the ball. But the ball took a wicked curl and bent into the back of the net. The keepers’ face was priceless, and the fans hugged and celebrated.

The Dons finally asserted themselves and took the opposition by the scruff of the neck. We forced a torrent of attacks, inundating the Cove box with near misses accompanied by near jubilant screams from the stands. In the 89th minute, however, all our efforts were rewarded. The Dons created a goalmouth scramble, which allowed a shot to be laid past the keeper.

The seconds seemed like minutes, and the minutes seemed like hours, as close to five minutes of injury time was added. In that time our boys could have got another three: two skims of the post, and one save by their keeper.

Throughout the second half we showed that we could play as a team, and win as a team. No one doubts the quality of the individuals on the pitch, but people have doubted the quality of the team. Do eleven David Beckhams make a good team? Exactly. What we showed in the second half was that AFC Wimbledon are a team to be reckoned with. Watch out Ash United, we’re getting into gear.

picture: Phil ShemmingsWithout a doubt, man of the match must go to Kevin Cooper again. Although the whole team played well in the second half, I feel that Cooper puts in 110%. He was running from each flank, creating and taking opportunities, coming close on several occasions and showed that he is a real Womble. Hats off to our fans as well, after being one down at half time we still all stuck together. Eames reciprocated by applauding and doing a funky chicken to the ‘West Bank’.

The CCL season has just begun, and winning two out of three of the games is a tremendous achievement; having a team is one in itself. If the Dons can do the business at Ash on Monday, then I won’t put anything past our boys. The spirit that was shown was second to none. To get out of this league is going to take a whole lot of everything: luck, commitment and perseverance. From the 10th July at Gander Green Lane to this match, I have seen the Dons reborn in an image that I only found feasible in my wildest dreams; the never-say-die attitude and the feeling that the team belonged to us.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Kevin Cooper

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