Match report by Paul Jeffrey
“Why does it never rain on our team?
Is it because we’re the Dons and we reign supreme?”
Apparently, these were Fran Healy’s original lyrics for Travis’s chart topper, but the other Ash supporting band members made him change them.
But Fran was right. Here we are in mid-October basking in bright sunshine again down at character rich Memorial Ground . Life’s great at the moment isn’t it?
At first glimpse of the CCL table, this looked a banker for AFC Wimbledon. On a run of 5 straight league wins, scoring 19 goals en route AFC are on fantastic form in the league. Farnham Town on the other hand haven’t won at home all season, and their one away victory was at bottom of the table Viking Greenford. With 17 points separating the two teams going into today’s game, surely AFC were strong favourites. But appearances can be deceptive. Farnham had only lost one more game than AFC Wimbledon, and had only conceded 4 more goals. With 5 draws before today’s game, they’re the CCL’s draw specialists along with Chessington & Hook, and indeed their last two games ended in draws. If only they had more firepower, just 11 goals all season, surely they’d be further up the CCL.
Never-the-less, despite Shimell and Sheerin’s absence, AFC fully expected to pick up 3 points today, and my prediction going into today’s game on the WISA website was a narrow 2-1 win.
And what happened? Well both scenario’s actually. We absolutely murdered them, and only won 1-0, Danny Oakins slamming home an 85th minute free kick to the audible relief of the thousand plus travelling Dons fans.
This was so nearly one of those days.
Terry tinkered with the formation to account for the absence of Sheerin and accommodate the sublime Bolger. We played 4-5-1, with Cooper up front ably and frequently supported by Oakins & Bolger through the middle and Sullivan & Sidwell down the flanks, so that most of the time, we actually were playing 4-1-5.
And from the off, it looked like paying dividends. We simply overran their midfield and had around 80%+ of possession.
Yet, for all our dominance and midfield creativity, we simply couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. Every single one of our front 5 were guilty of some appalling miscues and misdirected headers. To be fair, the dandelion covered pitch was awful and most of the time the ball was bobbling around so much it was difficult for the guys to get a decent strike away. Also, we should give credit to Farnham’s keeper who was outstanding, and what’s more, apparently he usually plays central midfield!
Never-the-less, we should have put more than one of the twenty clear goal scoring opportunities away. But, what on earth am I moaning about! It was frustrating but bloody exciting to see AFC conducting wave after wave of attack.
Here’s a sample of the action for those who missed the game:
15 Minutes: Fantastic run down the right channel by Sidwell, a poor mis-kicked cross was salvaged by Cooper who got in front of his marker and turned him beautifully, only to sky the shot well over the bar.
17 Minutes: A Sullivan corner see a Bolger knockdown to Cooper in loads of space. He blasts his shot against a defender and it goes out for another corner. This corner falls nicely to Sidwell who blasts wide from 20 yards.
20 minutes: Bassey and Cooper exchange passes, Bassey floats a cross to the far post, where Sidwell rises unmarked and heads wide.
30 minutes: Sullivan corner again, falls to Cooper at the far post and he blasts it across the goal and it goes out for a goal kick.
42 Minutes: Great cross from Sidwell on the right, Bolger rises above the defence and majestically heads it nowhere near the goal.
And so on, I think you get the picture. We were even more dominant and even more profligate in the second half. I mean, we really should have slaughtered them.
It took Farnham 25 minutes to have an attack, and it ended with their striker taking a leaf out of our boys’ books as he skied his shot into row B (it’s a very small ground you understand). Farnham only really started to get o the game once we went one up and sat back, and they never really looked like scoring at all.
So, onto individual performances and praise.
My man of the match was Gavin Bolger. He is a class apart when on the ball, and he could have had at least four in the second half alone.
Close behind was Simon Bassey. Simon played left back, and he seems more comfortable and assured in that position. His partnership with Sullivan down the left was paying dividends time and time again.
When Lee Sidwell gets the ball, you always feel something is going to happen and usually it does, he was also outstanding today.
And of course, Danny Oakins who ran himself into the ground today, he was popping up left right and centre and got his just desserts when he scored the winner.
Finally, congrats to Ray Merry for keeping a clean sheet on his AFC debut. Although, I think my granny could have kept a clean sheet today.
Overall, it was a great performance; the new formation looks solid when defending and fluid when attacking, and I really believe we are just about there now in terms of having the right balance and quality of personnel but we’ll need more composure and luck in front of goal when we meet AFC Wallingford in a few weeks time. I wonder if the sun will be shining down on us then?
MAN OF THE MATCH: Gavin Bolger