Match report by Jill Stratton.
Dear oh dear, what was I thinking agreeing to a plea to write a match report, and more to the point exactly what possessed them to ask me in the first place?! Still, I’ve always liked a challenge and this was definitely going to be just that, especially considering I left the Southall match the other week believing we had won 2-1!
What a relief waking up to sunshine and a lovely blue sky after the last fortnight of rain and snow which had caused the cancellation of 2 games and leaving me in desperate need of some AFC action to feed my addiction.
Kingsmeadow was busy earlier than usual as the AFC Wimbledon board were holding the first open meeting with fans. After all the recent discussion of a possible ground share with Tooting and Mitcham and with all the rumours and reservations surrounding this it was inevitable there would be a large turnout. The meeting was very informative and hopefully answered a few of the questions that have arisen.
So, on to the important part – THE MATCH! Would we be able to get 3 points against the team who had gone 10 games unbeaten and were lying 4th in the table? I was pleased to see Steven Cook as referee as in previous games he has been excellent and he maintained that high standard once again today.
Andy Sullivan was suspended after picking up 5 bookings so I had to re-think my man of the match! Our new signing from Tooting and Mitcham Steve Lawson was in the starting line up and was given the captains armband. Terry decided to start with Coops and Russell as the strike force.
Kicking off the first half Wimbledon were attacking the athletics end. We didn’t have to wait long for the first taste of goal action but true to form it was the opposition going 1-0 up after only 7 minutes with Godalming & Guildford’s No 10 Danny Newman slotting the ball away.
Luckily we didn’t have long to wait for the Wimbledon comeback with Cooper putting one away after 9 minutes to bring us back in to the game.
Sean Daly picked up a thigh strain so was substituted after about 10 minutes being replaced by our second new signing Noel Frankum. Terry made a couple of changes moving Uncle Wardy to left back and dropping Robbo into the right back position.
The game continued with a couple of chances at both ends. Lee Passmore had a clash of heads which left him heading for the tunnel with blood dripping from the wound. Somehow he still managed to keep smiling, what a hero! After some treatment and a stitch he was able to come back and continue playing.
After 25 minutes Sidwell was brought down on the edge of the box. The referee awarded a free kick, taken by Robson. Unfortunately it only made it as far as the Godalming wall.
Soon after, Wimbledon were on the attack again, with Ward making a run up field before passing in to Coops who shot wide.
Just as it looked like we would be going in at half time level Cooper scored his second of the game to put us 2-1 up leaving everyone heading for their half time pint or cup of tea very happy.
In a poignant moment during the half time break the family of Kevin Sandiford placed a wreath on the pitch and the ground observed a minutes silence in his memory. Kevin was an ardent Wimbledon fan who passed away recently after a brave battle with cystic fibrosis.
The teams emerged for the second half but luckily there were no goals or major incidents because I would have missed them, having been distracted by the glorious sight of a dons hero from our FA Cup winning team, John Scales, possibly the best looking player ever to pull on a Wimbledon shirt (apart from our current squad of course!).
With the distraction of Scalesy, coupled with the realisation of the fact that Godalmings shorts were infact incredibly short (not that us girls were complaining) it was very hard to focus on the match so apologies for any inaccuracies!
On the hour there was frantic goalmouth action when G & G went on the attack. A goalmouth scramble was eventually cleared by Neil Robson allowing the fans to breathe again and the West Bank to continue singing their hearts out.
After 65 minutes Cooper made a run down the right wing passing the ball to Bolger to continue but alas there was no-one in the box to finish off.
After the, how shall we say, lively and physical encounter with Godalming and Guildford earlier in the season (how can we forget that fantastic referee Mr Fish?!) I was waiting for them to try and rile our players. Cue G & G substitute No 14 Simon Ray, the bottle blonde who looks like he spends more on hair dye than our Coops (sorry Coops!). Ray’s first touch resulted in a free kick being awarded to Wimbledon.
Ray looked lively but with around 10 minutes to go he elbowed Bolger straight in the eye and left the referee with no choice but to show him the red card and send him off for an early bath (and a chance to check in the mirror if his roots needed doing).
In the 90th minute G & G got a corner which had every Wimbledon fan worried and hiding faces with their hands but it didn’t reach the back of the net and was followed by the final whistle signalling another Wimbledon win keeping us in the chase for promotion to the Rymans next season.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Kevin Cooper.