Report by Bert
I’d love to tell you that this was an exciting cup match, with end to end goalmouth action and plenty of action. I’d love to. But I can’t. It wasn’t. In all honesty, this was probably the worst we’ve played since our last visit to Walton. Having said that, Walton Casuals were just as bad and, in the end, the large crowd impact on the penalty shoot out was enough to take us through to a second round tie at home to the curry-meisters of Southall.
The Casuals had done everything possible off the pitch to make the day a success. Tickets in advance, beer tent, burgers, live music, extra parking, porta-loos, a 48 page (non rip-off) programme and an entertaining 8-5 mini-soccer match between their Under 9 team and our Academy team put everyone in good spirits for the kick-off.
Earlier in the day it had looked like Dons might be playing their first ever match in wet conditions, but by 3 o’clock the weather had eased and a re-jigged side took to the field. With Joe Sheerin (hamstring) and Ali Russell (holiday) missing from the forward roster, Terry Eames gave debuts to new signings Mark Nicholas and Gavin Bolger, Glen Mulcaire was drafted in to partner Kevin Cooper up front and Sim Johnston was back from his sojourn at Netherne Village for a place on the bench.
The match itself really was a dire affair. Other than a quick flurry after 10 minutes, when firstly an Andy Sullivan run ended with a weak shot and then a Keith Ward shot from a corner was blocked, there was no real action until a minute before the break. Dons worked the ball down the right wing and Kevin Cooper received the cross on the edge of the box with his back to goal, let it run across his body then turned and struck a sweet shot into the keepers’ bottom right corner.
HALF TIME 1-0
The second half on the pitch was notable only for the Walton Casuals equaliser, although off the pitch things were a little hotter. On 76 minutes Casuals’ substitute, Darren Noad, chased a ball over the top down the left and lobbed Glyn Shimell from 20 yards. Glyn’s banter with the crowd indicated that he wanted to be the penalty shoot-out hero again! How prophetic that was to turn out.
FULL TIME 1-1
Two periods of extra time only managed to produce one item of any interest - Sim Johnston replacing Simon Bassey and playing up front, presumably in an attempt to utilise his height in search of a late winner, but it was not to be. So, for our second consecutive cup tie, it was all down to the spot.
END OF EXTRA TIME 1-1
With the fired up Dons’ fans behind the goal, Lee Passmore coolly stroked home the first kick, and Emerson Barr-James levelled for Walton. After Andy Sullivan had slotted home the second, Glyn Shimell saved Darren Noad’s attempt. Kevin Cooper fired home Dons number three and, after the Casuals third spot kick had crashed back off the bar, Mark Nicholas knocked home the decider and left Danny Wheeler kicking the floor in frustration. This also saved Dons Trust member and AFC Wimbledon fan Neil Campbell (also known as the Walton Casuals number six) from the moral dilemma of taking a penalty decider against the team he supports!
WON 4-1 ON PENALTIES
The England game, watched from a local hostelry in the evening proved equally dour, and equally successful..
MAN OF THE MATCH: Mark Nicholas.