Match report by Jim Drewett.
Can I swear in this report? No? B**&£@s!
This was the cup we really fancied. Unbeaten in the London Senior since Terry Eames could fit into a pair of medium shorts, a home draw in the next round, Tooting and Mitcham waiting in the semis… ah well, all of a sudden the Cherry Red Books Trophy looks fruitier than ever (sorry).
The players fancied this cup too, make no mistake. For the first 20-30 minutes the Dons tore at their Essex opponents and Hartley Witney was but a distant, albeit scenic, memory. Oakins was relishing the chance to go up front and run amock – hold on, that's what he does whatever position he's playing – Bolger and Passmore were looking dangerous through the middle and Cooper, fresh from a visit to the salon, was looking even more streamlined than ever.
If we'd scored in this first 20 minutes, could fresh-faced Barkingside have recovered? Their defence was having a torrid time, their midfield were resorting to any means to stop the blue and yellow tide and if they're enormous number 5 hadn't been blocking out the light from the new super-bright floodlights we'd surely have run away with it.
Oakins got to the by-line, but his cross to an unmarked Cooper lacked power. Or was it a shot? Then the key moment of the half. Cooper was sent clean through by a midfield through-ball. Oakins was to his right but you wouldn't expect Coops to need him, or use him. Coops cooly rounded Lee Newcomb in the Barkingside goal… only for the big fellah to somehow dive back at his feet and claw the ball into his grasp. No swearing allowed, you say?
Four minutes later a Lawson header had Newcomb flying through the air to just tip the ball round the post. The Dons forced a few corners, Bolger had a battle with a paper cup that kept blowing on the pitch (sorry, it was too cold to write proper notes) and the half petered out with Barkingside unsportingly giving no indication of the kind of football they would play after the break.
The second half started with Shimell being forced into action, the thud of ball on glove echoing down at the now deserted West Bank end. 'Oh no', amongst those huddled together for warmth up at the Athletics End the realisation set in, 'we haven't given them their goal start yet'.
Sure enough, it soon came. A neat ball was threaded through the Dons back four, and Sam Bonhma finished neatly and inevitably. Suddenly it felt five degrees colder, and the inane chanting from the AFC Wimbledon 'runts' (tenuous movie reference1, see City of the Gods - best film of the year so far) got a bit more embarrassing.
Cooper had a good chance to equalise almost straight after the goal, but again Newcomb saved. AFC should have had a penalty, too. Handball is a foul, right, and the Barkingside defender might as well have caught Chris Theodore's cross, held it up in the referee's face and gone aaaaarrrgghh, so blatant was his handball.
The ref had lost it by this stage, and to be honest so had the Dons. When your team and crowd are low on confidence it's twice as hard to believe you can come back. Guinness in the water bottles anyone? The players didn't stop battling, but what were all those short corners about? Has anyone ever seen one of those work?
Barkingside defended solidly and, it must be said, broke brilliantly. Then in the 90th minute their number 2 hit as good a free-kick as you'll see anywhere into the top corner. There was time for another great save from Newcomb and another goal for them, this time a penalty.
And that was it… we're out of the London Senior Cup. Fair play to Barkingside… but I notice from their honours list they've never done anything in the Cherry Red!
MAN OF THE MATCH: Lee Newcomb (Barkingside keeper).