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Saturday 19 March 2005
Ryman League, Division One

AFC Wimbledon    4 - 1    Horsham
Shane Smeltz (07)
Richard Butler (13)
Richard Butler (28)
Robert Ursell (61)
  (50) Andy Walker
 Paul Smith 1 Luke Burton 
 Antony Howard 2 Carlo Castrechino (sub 81) 
 Lewis Hamilton 3 Ian Payne 
 Joe Vines 4 Eddie French 
 Steve Butler 5 Tom Graves 
 Jon-Barrie Bates 6 Ryan Rummery 
 Robert Ursell 7 Lee Carney 
 Michael Woolner 8 John Wescott 
(sub 71)  Richard Butler 9 Jamie Taylor 
 Shane Smeltz 10 Andy Walker 
(sub 84)  Sonny Farr 11 Gary Charman (sub 25) 
(sub 84)  Gavin Bolger 12 Florian Mateos (sub 81) 
 Matt Martin 13  
 Ryan Gray 14 Stuart Hardy 
 Martin Randall 15 Joe Clark (sub 25) 
(sub 71)  Leon McDowall 16 Glen Matten 
  17 Simon Berry 

Match report

The long-anticipated top of the table clash proved rather more one-sided than even the most ardent Dons fan would have hoped, as the home side continued exactly where they?d left off against Newport, racing into a 3-0 nil inside half-an-hour and then closing out a 4-1 victory to have one hand on the league trophy.

With Steve Gibson ill, Steve Butler was restored to the side at centre-bak and Antony Howard moved out to right-back, as Dave stuck with a 4-4-2 formation. Ryan Gray returned on the bench having served his suspension, joined by the familiar face of Matt Martin, back yet again for either his third or fourth spell at the club depending on how you count them.

A packed West Bank were in good voice in the unseasonable sunshine and they got the early goal they craved as Smeltz headed home almost nonchalantly from a Farr corner on just seven minutes.

And the advantage doubled six minutes later as Smeltz and Richard Butler combined to devastating effect. Smeltz?s deft touch set up the chance. He then span to beat Burton to the through ball and lift it goalwards as the keeper upended him. Butler raced in to get to the ball first and smash it gleefully in.

Horsham thought they had reduced the arrears after 19 minutes, but the linesman?s flag was raised for offside in a goalmouth scramble. Smeltz was then penalized for a foul as he looked to get on the end of a great cross from Farr and the whistle had long gone before he lifted the ball over Burton into the net.

Richard Butler then raced clear but only send the ball into the side-netting from a tight angle. He came off worse from a collision with Burton and hit the crowd clutching his foot. After treatment from Mike Rayner he returned gingerly to the fray.

Ryan Rummery blazed over from close range when it looked easier to score and was left to regret it as Richard Butler made it 3-0 immediately afterwards, making light of his injury to race onto a through ball and toe poke a shot past Burton. As the team celebrated, Butler hobbled back to the halfway line. Not bad for a man on one leg!

As on the previous Saturday, Wimbledon found a spring in their step as they looked to create more chances. Smeltz sent the Dons racing away on another pacy counter attack, but Richard Butler?s crossfield pass was too strong for Ursell. Only a truly terrible offside decision halted another break as Butler looked clear having run yards to be there.

Horsham kept plugging away in an attempt to drag themselves back into the game and Carney sent a shot fizzing wide when in space on the edge of the area. A still hobbling Butler then spurned a chance for his hat-trick as he was set up by Farr and Smeltz, but sent his shot wide. A correct offside flag prevented Butler from collecting another Smeltz pass as Wimbledon had to make do with just the three goals before half-time.

The Dons started the second half sluggishly and Horsham brought themselves back into contention with a very well taken goal on 50 minutes as Andy Walker directed a low shot across Smith and into the bottom corner.

In truth Wimbledon had looked poor at the start of the second period compared to the heights of the first half, but they were roused from their slumbers by a vintage piece of Ursell magic. The Wizard picked up the ball on the edge of the box and beat his man before sending a fizzing howitzer past Burton and into the bottom corner for 4-1. His celebration suggested he?d enjoyed the moment.

And his sublime strike did indeed serve as the wake-up call Wimbledon needed ? shortly afterwards Woolner fed Farr and his far post cross found Smeltz, but for once the Kiwi international?s shooting boots failed him and he sent a shot over the bar from close range.

But the Dons couldn?t match their first half performance as they closed the match out comfortably if unspectacularly. Taylor and Mateos both sent chances over the bar for the visitors as they plugged away until the end, but in truth there was no real way back for Horsham after the opening 30 minute blitzkrieg from Smeltz and Butler.

In injury time substitute Leon McDowell rounded Burton but saw his shot rebounded off the post and Ursell sent a tame shot straight at Burton. An odd decision from the referee saw Rummery win a freekick on the edge of the Wimbledon area, but Clark curled his shot wide.

Horsham will still be confident of joining the Dons in the promotion places at the end of the season, but this emphatic victory means it would take a catastrophic collapse to prevent Wimbledon lifting a second successive championship. It now looks like a question of when the title is secured rather than if.

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