Match report by David Bugg.
Following Saturday's disappointing draw with Farnham the Dons bounced back with a hard fought victory against Bedfont. On an evening which was regularly interrupted by the passing aeroplanes from nearby Heathrow airport, AFC Wimbledon beat a combative and physical Bedfont side thanks to goals from Kevin Cooper and Matt Everard.
The evening began in the pub (which is nothing unusual) where the discussions among the AFCW faithful was not of the upcoming match but of the Dons Trust meeting next Monday. It should be an interesting meeting.
Anyway, on to the game and AFC Wimbledon manager Terry Eames made three changes to the side that drew on Saturday. Captain Joe Sheerin returned to the line up after being rested with Neil Robson and Simon Bassey taking over in centre midfield from Gavin Bolger (ill) and Noel Frankum (wisdom teeth).
The game started quietly with neither side really creating much in first few minutes. The first chance fell to Bedfont after 5 minutes when a poor place kick from Ray Merry went straight to the Bedfont No.10 who brought the ball forward. However, the Bedfont forwards shot from the edge of the box was well saved by Merry. A couple of minutes later the Dons had a free-kick near the edge of the Bedfont penalty area which game to nothing.
The first major incident of the game came around the 15 minute mark when Sheerin was forced to go off injured following a tackle on him a couple of minutes earlier. News after the game was that Joe may have injured his hamstring again. Let's hope this is not the case as he has suffered terrible luck with injuries and suspensions this season. Ali Russell came on as his replacement.
Almost immediately the Dons were behind. A looping cross from the right hand side of the penalty area from the Bedfont No.11 eluded the Dons defence and their No.2 was on hand at the far post for any easy tap in. However, as on many occasions this season, this seemed to wake the Dons up and they were immediately on the offensive. Several balls into the box caused some uncomfortable moments in the Bedfont defence and it was no surprise when the Dons equalised. A cross from Keith Ward was met by Ali Russell whose fine header from 10 yards beat the keeper but hit the post. Fortunately the ball came straight back to Russell who helped it on the Cooper to sweep home from close range. The goal took `Super Kev` past the season tally of 29 league goals scored by Dons legend Alan Cork.
Cooper almost put the Dons ahead 5 minutes later when, after a good through ball from Sidwell, he lobbed the ball over the keeper only to see a Bedfont defender head it clear just in front of the goal line. Shortly afterwards a Russell shot was deflected wide for a corner. The Dons were well on top.
The Dons matched Bedfont's physical style of play and as a result the first of several stoppages for injuries and, how can I put it, disagreements between the players, started to hold the game up. Just before half time Russell picked up a booking following a mistimed challenge. On the stroke of half time Cooper nearly put the Dons ahead. Another good through ball from Sidwell resulted in Cooper attempting to lob the keeper from almost the same spot as earlier in the half. This time the keeper was further back and managed to push the ball behind for a corner.
The start of second half was very scrappy with neither being able to put any decent moves together. The first major chance came on around 55 minutes when the Dons lost the ball in midfield and the Bedfont No.6 strode forward and unleashed a thunderbolt shot which cannoned off the crossbar back into play. Fortunately for the Dons the follow up shot by the Bedfont No.10 was fired over the bar. Neil Robson went into the book shortly afterwards for committing a foul.
Just after the hour the Dons took the lead. Following a foul on Kevin Cooper the resulting free kick was floated into the box by Sean Daley. The ball was met at the far post by Matt Everard whose towering header was buried into the bottom corner of the net. Cue wild celebrations from the Dons faithful. Shortly afterwards Robson shot wide following a corner and the Dons were looking comfortable. Another yellow card, this time for kicking the ball away, was shown to Sean Daley. However, it was noticeable that similar indiscretions by the home team were going unpunished, something that had not gone unnoticed by the Dons supporters.The Dons were looking comfortable going into the last quarter of an hour and should possibly have had a penalty when the Bedfont keeper appeared to deliberately run into Ali Russell, whose was chasing after the ball. Russell, who is not a small bloke, went crashing to the ground. The referee, however, decided this was not worthy of a booking and awarded a free kick inches outside the box, much to the spectators bemusement. Sullivan then became the latest Dons player to go in the book before he was the victim of a reckless challenge that forced him limp off the field. He was replaced by Mark Nicholas.
Nothing much happened during the lengthy injury time period and the Dons came out on top for a fine victory. Roll on North Greenford.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Matt Everard.
Held the defence together and scored the winning goal. Other notable performances included Bassey and Robson in the midfield and Russell who looked a lot sharper than he did against Farnham.