Match report by Ian Edwards
After two disappointing results, three points was a necessity against lowly placed Westfield. Terry Eames made several changes from the side comprehensively beaten by Barkingside. Gareth Graham, resplendent in his Neil Lennon haircut made his debut in a new look 4-5-1 formation.
Then there was the surprise return of Danny Roberts at left back. Surprising because he had been released from the club less than a fortnight ago. I must admit it to likening Roberts' return to that of the second coming. If only because on hearing the team I muttered “It's Danny Roberts, Jesus”.
The opening exchanges saw little in the way of skill as the Dons took a while to adjust to the new system. Far from being the dull, stifling long ball parody of football that we had witnessed a few years before, Eames version allowed the whole team to express themselves with some aplomb. The addition of Graham as a third central midfielder allowed Gavin Bolger opportunity to support Kevin Cooper, the lone striker. Such was the Dons' dominance during the match, it often looked as though Bolger was playing up front.
Sadly, after 10 minutes, the injury curse which has so blighted Eames' team selections of late struck again. Graham, looking strong and solid slid in for a 50-50 challenge and stayed down clutching his knee. It looked bad. To his credit, Graham tried to battle on, but it was clear that he was unable to continue. In his place came Noel Frankum, or Frodo Baggins as one wag on the West Bank described him. I am presuming this has more to do with his size and haircut than having oversized, hairy feet.
The enforced substitution seemed to spur Eames' side on and a wonderful flowing move involving Bolger and Cooper saw a Sullivan volley fizz just over the bar. The Dons were not to be denied however. A free kick from the left found Sidwell unmarked to stab the ball home at the second attempt. Shortly after Sullivan was again unlucky with a right foot volley. This might have proved costly if Shimell, redundant for much of the half, hadn't made an excellent save after a surprised Westfield striker found himself through on goal.
The second half continued very much in the same vein as the first. Westfield battled gamely, but a second Dons goal always looked likely to deflate them. It soon came, courtesy of a sublime Sullivan cross and a spectacular Sidwell volley.
A third soon followed. A perfectly executed scissor kick from Cooper which looked suspiciously offside. To their credit, Westfield took it firmly on the chin. Indeed, much West Bank frivolity ensued as the amusing, yet hapless Westfield centre backs continued some good natured bantering with the crowd.
Good work again from Sidwell on the right found Bolger who calmly slotted in the fourth. This was no more than Bolger deserved for a tireless display. The Dons were now in full flow. Sidwell was unlucky not to complete his hat trick with a bullet header and a Danny Oakins free kick flew just over the bar. And just past my head. Substitute Andrew Petty completed the rout in the closing stages.
All in all this was a fine result and performance albeit against one of the lesser sides in the Division. Terry Eames clearly felt that changes were needed and the new formation clearly seemed to work. Whether it will be as successful, or even tried against better opposition is unclear. However it is an indication that Eames is building a squad that is flexible and that can adapt to different styles of play.
Mention should also be made of Danny Roberts. Back in the team after being released, he showed, in my opinion, an excellent attitude and performed solidly. It cannot have been easy to play under these circumstances, but it is a perfect example of the attitude that Terry Eames has developed within the squad.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Lee Sidwell
Scored two. Could have got a hat trick and was a constant threat down the right. Has to be one of the first names on the team sheet and is, in my view, a major contender for player of the year.