Match report by James Howard
The sun was out and more and more people were filling up the ground, some lucky enough to have the new AFC Wimbledon strip. The official scarf was also available today in 2 different flavours, home and away.
As three oclock drew nearer, there was a good feeling in the crowd that we would get the much-needed win. The Dons came out to a massive cheer as usual and the crowd greeted new signing Glyn Shimell, the keeper who innocently let in our 1st ever goal when Trigger scored against Bromley. We greeted Hartley Whitney's keeper as we would normally greet the opponents keeper.
The game kicked off and it wasn't too long before Joe Sheerin scrambled the ball over the line. But Hartley Wintneys keeper dragged it back from behind the line and the referee said "no goal". I was beginning to wonder whether we had another biased referee, but the incident didn't get the team or crowds spirits down.
Five minutes later, Hartley Whitney were the victim of something very bizarre. The ball crossed the line for a corner and Andy Sullivan took it dreadfully. One of Hartley Whitney's defenders saw it roll towards him and thought it couldn't have been taken yet. Therefore, he picked it up in the area. Suddenly the referee pointed to the spot. He seemed to be the only one who knew what had happened. The player who picked the ball up did not get sent off, although it was deliberate handball. Kevin Cooper stepped up to take the penalty and another unusual thing happened, he missed. He hit straight it down the middle with no real power. We could have been 2-0 up by now, but it was still 0-0. I'm sure a couple of people round the ground were asking the question, "is this our day?"
We were still looking a lot better than them. Hartley Wintney were not really getting near enough to our goal to test new signing Glyn Shimmel. Half time drew nearer, but with about eight minutes to go until the break, Kevin Cooper struck. He took the ball inside the area, slotted it past their defender and managed to nutmeg the keeper - 1-0 and a major confidence booster to the side. Im sure they knew the job was far from over yet though.
When the lads came out for the second half, nervous times were ahead. Glyn Shimmel was given a great reception as he came to the end where I was standing. He was tested just ten minutes into the half when a Hartley Wintney player climbed high in the air for the ball and headed it towards the bottom right hand corner. Somehow Shimmel managed to push it past his post for a corner. Their corner came to nothing in the end. So it was still 1-0 to the Super Dons.
Sim Johnston was not putting a foot wrong in defence and Shimmel was keeping the defence very organised by shouting orders at them. AFCW were still pushing for that "crucial" second goal, but we had to wait until the 57th minute to get it and it was Neal Robson who scored. He got the ball just inside the box and hit it along the floor. It rattled the back of the net to make 2-0. Personally I don't feel comfortable at only 2-0 up after the game against Ash when we lost 3-2 after being 2-0 up. Anyway the ball was back in the centre circle and we had a nice two-goal cushion.
Hartley Wintney had a couple more attacks but, thanks to the defence and Shimmel, they came to nothing. Lee Sidwell and Andy Sullivan were playing very well in midfield, and so were Neil Robson and Lee Passmore. In other words, the whole team were playing their best. Danny Roberts was having his best game for us as far as I could see, although his girlfriends dad was the coach of Hartley Wintney and his girlfriends brother was their captain.
Seven minutes past the hour mark, 3,476 people witnessed possibly the best goal theyve seen for AFC Wimbledon, and it came from a defender. Sim Johnson hit the ball sweetly from 30 yards into the top corner of the net. The crowd went wild and so did the team. 3-0, and from my point of view, the job was done.
In the 77th minute, Trigger replaced Sheerin and Tony Readings came on for Danny Roberts. Readings still had his head bandaged from when he picked up that bad injury against Sandhurst. There wasnt too much action after these substitutions, but we did see a bit of Dave Fry who came on for Passmore late on.
However, Gary Parker managed to grab a late consolation goal for Hartley Wintney to make it 3-1. His looping header beat the impressive Glyn Shimmel. For the last ten minutes, Sim Johnston had to take goal kicks instead of Glyn Shimmel as Shimmy had cramp.
So the final score was 3-1 and we got the much-needed three points from the game. Even better was Raynes Park Vale losing to Withdean 2000 4-3. We caught up on them and some of the other teams above us as most of them didn't play in the CCL today as they had FA Cup duties.
Overall, a good win in front of another bumper crowd and we had a few Wolverhampton fans at Kingsmeadow today who were boycotting their game against the Franchise.
MAN OF THE MATCH: SIM JOHNSTON