Match report by Karen Hardy.
So good, some folk paid to watch them in the rain! Yes, there were a good number of people under their brollies standing at the uncovered end of Kingsmeadow to see AFC Wimbledon notch up another win in the CCL. Indeed, they were part of an attendance of 3,350 which was excellent in the pretty dreadful conditions.
The match itself was hard, slogged out in the mud and rain against a team who seemed more concerned with trying to wind up the superb Bassey than getting the ball in the net. The Dons started well, with Tony Readings sliding in just missing contact on a free kick by Cooper after Coops himself had been fouled. After only 5 minutes, we were given hope that perhaps this game would live up to the goal fest from last week. After an elbowing, Cooper took a swerving free kick from just outside the box which seemed destined for the top right hand corner but the Chessington keeper, Mark Daniels, plucked it out of the air. However, the game soon settled into a pattern of niggling fouls, plenty of whingeing and perhaps for once not enough bookings! I should add that most of this sad behaviour was by the opposition not AFC.
Nerves started to jangle when the C&H number 3 Dominic Justice put over a curling left footer from a free kick which Shimell brilliantly put out for a corner. This was after a fairly innocuous push by Mark Nicholas to give away the free kick when moments earlier the referee had totally ignored tussling and general argy bargy between Bassey and Daniel Martin on the left touchline. The first goal should have come on 16 minutes when a corner from Robson dropped in and was knocked goal-wards only to be cleared off the line in front of a noisy west bank crowd. Cooper took too long when the ball came to him and the effort came to naught.
The ball did end up in the AFC net after 17 minutes but, for once, the referee noticed and penalised the Chessington attackers pushing Glyn into the goalmouth, ball in hand. Shortly afterwards Robson, having a very solid game, attempted the first Russell/Oakins type lob of the match but was offside. More exchanges between Bassey and Martin still went unpunished by the ref. Perhaps he needed the lights on earlier than their appearance at 3.30. The Dons had a couple of corners following some deft touches by Nicholas and hard work by Bassey and the man in black finally had a word with the Chessington defence.
Shimell pulled off a terrific one-handed save on the line to deny the visitors a goal which would have been undeserved to say the least. What a keeper. Shortly afterwards, the ref finally got his book out and took down the details of the C&H number 7, eliciting the first anti-official chanting of the afternoon as he had failed to book much worse efforts. Much oohing and aahing shortly after when Danny Oakins produced a low drive across the face of the goal. The nine year old in my company summed up the first half with "Their number 10 keeps faking" following an altercation between Readings and the said no. 10. Hopefully the second half would see some more positive action on the goal account.
Chessington seemed to have responded positively to a tea break talking to and came out quite perky, causing the wombling fans to have a little worry that this might be the end of the winning streak. A moment of relief came with the good humoured reaction of the cameraman who got the ball in the neck. After a few minutes though, we were back where the first half had left off with C&H’s number 8 (Bachawki) booked for clattering Oakins, Moorhaise doing the supplementary moaning as usual. Chessington were rewarded for what looked like a dive with a free kick in the D, but after much pratting about the ball hit the five man wall. Ha ha.
The Dons started to wake up and after a long free kick taken by Shimell landed on Russell’s head the ball went through to Cooper in a close encounter with the C&H keeper which the no. 1 grabbed. On 55 minutes, a free kick was awarded to AFC just outside the box, perhaps this was our chance. Rather than the expected drive into a top corner, Neil Robson placed a low firm shot to the right and into the goal. Much relief and jubilation amongst the fans, we were back where we belong – in the lead.
Unfortunately, just 4 minutes later the damp crowd was stunned by a goal from the opposition following a free kick on the edge of the box which was bundled through by Nick Bailey. Back where we were. Wombles had been buoyed up by the first goal and this setback just seemed to push them on to greater things. Robson took a free kick which went to Cooper who had a blinding shot blocked. Oakins pulled off a tremendous tackle as the ball came away to keep the pressure on. Robson had a long range shot to the top right corner saved. Glyn saved a low header from Darren Everitt.
At last our salvation came on 63, a through ball to Coops saw him round the keeper and stick the ball in the net. More celebration in the rain. The crowd picked up its cheering and became positively lively. There could have been a third when the hard working Russell had a shot put out for a corner which was wasted. The rain tried to come down even harder.
The Match sponsors' Man of the Match Oakins showed his worth when he chested down a dangerous cross from sub Wicks following a rather fast run down the right hand side, with the ball going out for a goal kick, somehow. Chessington completed their substitutions on 78 minutes, while the Dons also put on Ward and Marshall for Cooper and Sullivan. The visitors then seemed to remember they were picking on Bassey resulting in a foul and a bout of handbag swinging and, after lengthy consultation with the linesman, the ref booked Martin (at last) and Readings who was perhaps a touch lucky to stay on. Wardy looked fresh after his brief break and was on the end of a good move from a free kick with his shot just going wide.
With five minutes to go, the Dons were still pushing for more goals, a good shot by Sidwell was saved. Readings put in a superb tackle unperturbed by his recent booking. Moments later Shimell had his one dodgy kick of the game and Chessington returned down the right hand side, Glyn then redeemed the situation bravely diving to the feet of the oncoming number 10 who must have hurt himself tripping over the keeper. Not a good place to receive treatment in front of Dons fans shouting abuse, "What does that mean, Mummy?" asks the nine year old again, looking at my notes. "Erm, they’re being rude...". A couple more moves on goal and the game finished, AFC victorious once more.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Simon Bassey