Match report by Tudor Jennings
A flattering scoreline for what was in reality a close match for much of the game.
It took a while for both teams to find their feet, helped in no small way by some subjective refereeing and an assistant linesman that seemed to not like the idea of “Uncle” Keith Ward winning the ball cleanly in a couple of tackles in front of the Main Stand.
Perhaps it is not so much the level of football that has concerned me, as much as the standard of refereeing. In the cold light of day it is important to realise that these guys will hardly ever have come up against the pressure of making decisions in front of several thousand partisan fans. It doesn’t make it any the more easier when one poor decision or inconsistency (as at Ash) can cost you points and perhaps even 1st, 2nd or 3rd place at the end of the season. I guess this is a learning experience for us all.
Indeed, after a rash challenge by Simon Bassey left him (quite rightly) with a yellow card to his name Bedfont’s tactics became all too clear. Perhaps Bassey’s reputation precedes him, but for the next five minutes certain members of the opposing team seemed intent on winding him up. After 20 minutes a challenge for the ball left Bassey on the floor and Bedfont’s number 6 on top seeing how far he could press our player into the pitch. This led to a “one in all in” multi player fracas normally reserved for ice hockey matches. Unfortunately the official was left with no alternative but to send both players off with straight reds and leave the teams facing each other down to ten. In hindsight this was a good decision as Bassey was likely to be shown another yellow sooner or later and took the heat out of a situation that looked likely to get out of hand (unlike at Southall).
Soon enough the Dons used the extra space on the pitch to good effect with Cooper dribbling out on the right and able to chip the ball in to Lee Sidwell. Lee used a bit of voodoo to bicycle kick the ball across the 6-yard box and allow Sheerin to power a header home in front of the ‘open’ end. 1-0.
From that Wimbledon kept control of the game and looked to be about to go in up at half time when a rare run from the halfway line and a bit of luck allowed a Bedfont player to reclaim the ball and run with it. He sent a well measured diagonal ball out left for his team mate who (not for the first time this season) was allowed to bear down on goal and slip a ball underneath Glyn Shimell (a la North Greenford) and tie the game with almost the last kick of the first half.
The second half started incandescently with a finely worked goal after only a couple of minutes by Lee Sidwell – controlling the ball in the box and shooting past the Bedfont goalie after the usual good approach play by the rest of the team. From then on it was a game of cat and mouse with both sides having opportunities to score. Indeed at times it seemed that the Dons were hanging on for the 2-1 as Bedfont played the ball patiently from the back on several occasions, looking for an opening that a well organised Dons midfield refused to allow Bedfont to create.
Bedfont continued to be frustrated by this and an off the ball incident left Danny Oakins on the floor in our penalty area clutching his face. The referee and his assistant both missed it and Danny slowly picked himself up and got on with the game (after coolly having a little word with one of the players during the next break in play- perhaps enquiring how many minutes were left to play?). Maybe Danny could pass on a few tips to Simon about revenge being a dish best eaten cold?
Quite a few chances happened at either end. Cooper with a good shot just rising all the time and over the crossbar into the ever vocal “West Bank” crowd. A Bedfont cross from the right almost pulled it back to 2-2, but the powerful header connected too well and it flew to the right of Shimell’s post. At the other end a Bedfont defender panicked and, with no one remotely close to him hit a similar strength header 5 foot to the left of his own goal and out for a corner.
The game was heading for a close finish when, with 6 or 7 minutes left, Wardy was given the opportunity to run down the right and stretch the Bedfont midfield. A pinpoint pass to Joe Sheerin gave him time to control the ball and stroke the ball into the net past the despairing keeper for his second brace in two games. Bedfont’s night was summed up when one of their defenders attempted to squeeze the goalie’s water bottle into the crowd. Fortunately for him the water trickled out. Much as time had for any chance of a recovery. 3-1.
Shortly after, Joe was substituted and room was made for Ali Russell to use his height and strength on the demoralised Bedfont players. His chance came soon enough and a crisp ball was played out to Andy Sullivan on the left. The cross fell just behind him. Adjusting quickly for a big man, the Tower of Power swung round and unleashed a crowd pleasing volley which left the goalie no chance. 4-1.
AFC were rampant and a fifth followed just before full time when another cross met Wardy’s shiny noggin. Danny Oakins decided to make sure by poaching the goal by giving it an extra flick from about a yard out. Gary Lineker would have been proud. 5-1.
Bedfont left the field promptly on the final whistle. Their number 7, so talkative in the first half, not even daring to acknowledge the fans. Our players stayed to warm down and bask in the glory of another 5 goals and another 3 points. A real team performance and each player took their bow from the exhilarated West Bank crowd as the 2,500 fans made their way to the bars or the car park.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Simon Bassey
Unlucky to be sent off after being singled out by the Bedfont all-star wrestling team. Unwittingly created the space for 10 men on 10 for 70 minutes of fun filled Wednesday night action. For that at least we should be thankful.