Match report by Lukeyboy Mac
Unlike most match reports these are not just my personal experiences but also a mixture of the day through the eyes of some of the hardest working people at the club - namely the stewards.
9am is far too early to wake up for a game 10 minutes down the road. Still, car parking and general stewarding duty was required and £522.18 isn't a bad return for half a days work and its all going to the stadium fund so all is well and good.
I got to the ground well before ten, but there were plenty of people already there, and I was stunned by the buzz about the place. You could tell there was a very big match on - it was better than anything I remember at Selhurst. This was the big one, the Merton derby, the match we had all been waiting for. Dream of a stewarding job as well - not many people needed to be searched, but no complaints from those who did. Well-behaved fans, and even better behaved players, which made a change.
Before the game, RPV were out on the pitch as soon as they'd arrived, in their mock Palace shirts. Their player with the broken leg was loitering with intent to try and kick a ball.
There was a nostalgic feel that came over some of the fans as they went through the turnstiles, they hadn't been here in a number of years and they could remember what it was like back then.
‘I walked into the ground to see an entire stand that ran the length of the pitch, filled with yellow and blue. If such a sight can’t make you proud to be a Womble then I’d get a doctor to check to see if rigor mortis has begun to set in. It was truly a tear jerking moment; this is a club that has such a promising future.
The hour to KO quickly passed and the game got underway with AFC very much in the ascendancy. The central midfield play of Gareth Graham and Gavin Bolger was some of the best we have seen all season. This was a true example of how to boss a game. Passes were being sprayed left and right and the wing play of Sidwell and Sullivan was causing enormous problems for the RPV defence. About 15 minutes in and, after a seemingly endless series of near misses and corners, Matt Everard powered in a header to make it 1-0 which was greeted with mass delight by the large gathering of Wimbledon supporters mainly amassed in the pitch long main terrace.
1-0 quickly became 2-0 when Neil Robson produced a peach of a free kick from about 25 yards out. Apparently the keeper was expecting a Coops free kick and looking under the wall as he knew Coops liked to shoot them low. Imagine his shock then as it flew straight past him
Watching Robbo's free kick was awesome. I'd thought it'd hit the post and shot back out, but then saw them celebrating. It was like a pregnant pause before the fans went totally nuts.
Robson on his old stamping ground was savouring the moment in possibly his last season. If he had taken off his boots at that moment and walked off the pitch into retirement it would have been poetic justice.
There was still time for a controversial 3rd goal before the HT whistle. This time some strong running by Danny Oakins down the right wing resulted in what appeared to be a pull back on the defender shepherding the ball out, and whilst nothing was given by the linesman and with the referee seemingly looking to give a RPV free kick, Oakins whipped a low cross into the box where Andy Sullivan was on hand to put it past the RPV keeper. So, 3-0 at HT and it was all looking a bit too easy.
The second half and RPV came out with a bit more fire in their belly (and obviously the chose words of Dobo - the RPV manager - ringing in their ears). The Dons gave the impression of thinking the game was won and seemed to go into cruise control which allowed RPV to have a few dangerous attacks. One of these led to a goal bound shot being put past Ray Merry only for that man Everard to be on hand to clear the ball off the line in what turned out to be Raynes Parks only serious attempt on goal all game. The red face of Merry, the giggling of the crowd and the smile on the face of Everard told the story of whether the ball was over the line or not. This near miss had the required effect on the Dons and Danny Oakins rose highest in the box to head home yet another centre from a set play to make it 4-0. It was practically all one-way traffic for the rest of the game. 15 mins or so from the end & The Dons recorded their fifth goal in a league game for the ninth time this season when Everard again headed home after a bit of a pinball in the area. Right on the final whistle, Mark Nicholas had yet another header well saved after some good work on the wing by Sidwell. So, 5-0 it finished (the sixth 5-0 win of the season so far) and a very impressive team performance.
To my mind this was the best match I've seen us play. It made me remember the first ever Wimbledon match I saw. This was also on an Easter Monday, at Plough Lane back in 1979 and we trounced Torquay United 5-0. From what I can remember on that day we totally dominated the match and looked like we should have scored more too.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Neil Robson.
When a team performs as strong as this is almost impossible to pick out individuals. The whole midfield excelled particularly Graham and Bolger who are quickly becoming a formidable pairing, and coupled with the hard running of the front men and the solidity and goals from the back four (how many has Everard scored now?), AFC Wimbledon produced their game of the season. Neil Robson however was an example of what AFC Wimbledon are about. Called in for the injured Simon Bassey he capped a display, which delighted not only the AFC Wimbledon contingent, but also the hosts for the day (Carshalton) with a fantastic free kick. With only a handful of games till his 1000th appearance, here’s hoping the journey man pro will look back on his times with AFC Wimbledon as being some of the best of his footballing career.