Match report by Ed 'Pablo' Scott
Hey hey, another glorious away day in Combined Counties football and another wondrous and unique AFC Wimbledon experience. Not only are you looking for a gloriously baroque sounding football club - Chalfont St Peter ('I didn't know he had piles' quoth one wag), you had to stagger through an allotment to get there. (Sorry about your cabbage sirs). When you finally got to the ground, the long awaited and much heralded curry tent consisted of three gentlemen looking at a jumble of poles on the ground muttering "I thought you knew how to put the f****** up". Beer, curry (no tent, served al fresco), the sight of our players arriving looking up for it, the club chairman lugging drinks into the dressing room - once again an AFC Wimbledon match was proving to be a great evening out, and still 90 mins before kick off.
Unfortunately, quaint and baroque as Chalfont St Peter FC sounded, what at first glance seemed to be a beautiful view over the rolling Cotswolds out of the back of the clubhouse, proved on closer inspection to actually be the pitch. Such were the undulations in the surface, when Kevin Cooper went for a pre-match wander amongst the dunes, we could only see his head and shoulders when he was standing on the penalty spot. Mental note Mr Eames; crampons in the kit bag next time we travel away. When the match started, it was clear from the off that Southall were going to be a niggly proposition. Not only did they have a phalanx of splendidly be-turbaned percussionist loons on the sideline, but their back four certainly was keen on dishing out ankle taps, elbows in ribs and god knows what else. By the end of the game, tempers were fraying somewhat on the pitch, in the dugout, on the away supporters grassy knoll and out back with the curry men who were arguing over the last naan bread.
Consistently throughout the first half, and indeed most of the game, AFC enjoyed the lion?s share of possession without converting any of the chances they generated in the box. Cooper again was the player who managed to generate a couple of shots on goal, with Sheerin once again working very hard without much reward. Another heartening performance was from Dave Towse at left back. Comfortably had his stroppy handful of oppo in his back pocket all evening, and had plenty more cajones left to start attacks down that flank. Aside from Coops' tame effort (probably rendered a bit difficult by the 40 metre crevasse on the edge of the area), Simmo and Ward should have planted their noggins more effectively on a couple of well flighted Sully corners perhaps (Sim clearly finds the 30 yard thunderbolt a lot easier) , but I guess you had to give the nigglers from Southall their due, they were proving to be a tough team to break down. Whilst our flank men were proving threatening attacking outlets, the centre of the park was getting submerged in attritional warfare with no room for faint hearts (but plenty for elbows in ribs and language that would make your mother blush.) On the other hand, Southall barely got a sniff of the Womble onion bag and when they did Shimell looked like he could pick their tame efforts out of the air all day.
Second half came around with the Womble masses (another 1000+ crowd on a midweek night - slap yourselves on the back, do) congregated on the grassy knoll at the other end of the ground. Appropriately the Southall massive came out this half like a whole bunch of Lee Harvey Oswald?s and Jack Ruby?s, things started getting a bit controversial. Naturally the referee really wasn't up to the job (and a word about the various offsides/ decisions by his line running colleagues - absolutely rotting, pus strewn and filth stained garbage - yes, that good). Despite my pro womble eyes, it seemed ludicrous as the half wore on Sheerin and Passmore went into the refs book, whilst Southall seemed to get away with murder (ie two footed tackle followed by screaming blue murder in the linos face seemed to merit nothing more than a stern look).
Once again, our best outlets seemed to be Sully'n'Sid down the flanks. Indeed Lee Sidwell pulled an outrageous stunt to bamboozle the hell out of Southall?s left back (very satisfactory, he was in fact one of the more irascible members of their mob) which I struggle to explain in words; he appeared to wrap his left leg three times round his right before nutmegging himself, dummying twice and doing a cartwheel whilst his opposite number's brain exploded. The audience in were in raptures and indeed I heard several proposals of marriage carelessly slung Lees way... unfortunately such Cryuff-esque shimmying lead to nothing more than an honourable mention in the match report - once again few clear chances were created, and when Coops got a one on one with the keeper which had us all mentally pencilling one nil in our head, he shot tamely wide. As the half closed down both Coops (hamstring from running up and down hills all day) and Sheerin's ever-popular toe caused our strike force to limp off. Trigger came on, and resolved himself to beat up both their centre backs in the space of 5 minutes flat. Good man that Trigger - earned himself a yellow, sparked off a mass eyeball to eyeball confrontation, and the undying admiration from those of us who like our forwards nasty.
As the match ended, relations between the dug outs were less than cordial, but hell, Southall got the point they clearly set out to get, we managed to keep a clean sheet and the curry made sure we all had constant reminders about our night out for most of the next day. Roll on the seaside.
MOTM - honourable mention for Sully for bombing down the flank all match, Joe for working his nads off as per, Dave Towse for his great debut but go on Lee Sidwell, take a bow for that tasty piece of monkeyshines.
MAN OF THE MATCH: LEE SIDWELL