Wimbledon produced possibly the best 45 minutes of football seen at Kingsmeadow since it was built to storm into a 4-0 half-time lead against Newport ? a display of passion, power and poise that had the West Bank dancing with delight. The second half may not have quite matched the dizzy heights of the first period, but the overall display was among the top drawer of Wimbledon performances ? quite a birthday present for the manager, who turned 43 yesterday.
As expected Dave Anderson sent out a new-look Wimbledon side following a busy week of transfer activity. Sonny Farr started at left-midfield, Lewis Hamilton made his home debut at left-back, having played on the other flank at Molesey, Joe Vines slotted in at centre-back and it was a Shane-Richie partnership upfront as New Zealand international Smeltz partnered Butler. With the curse of the armband still in effect as Mark Cooper joined Chris Gell and Steve Butler on the sidelines, Micky Woolner led the team out.
But it was the man who's made the most appearances this season who sent the Dons in front after just two minutes and ten seconds. Sonny Farr sent a corner to the back post and Antony Howard headed home from two yards out.
Jake Cole dealt comfortably enough with couple of Newport attacks as Dedegbe looked lively, but it was a bright opening period for the home side as they fizzed quick passes around. Woolner pulled the strings from deep as Ursell and Farr showcased their skills. Smeltz got in on the act with a jinking teasing run before laying the ball back to Ursell. His weighted pass set-up Woolner, but he shot over.
Dedegbe then showed that Wimbledon didn?t have a monopoly on pretty football with a run that beat three men before unleashing a shot that had Cole beaten, but rebounded off the crossbar. It was hacked clear and the Dons breathed again.
They resumed control once more and Ursell sent a shot over after good work from Smeltz and Farr. Smeltz then showed exactly why he?s played seven games of international football with a stunning goal on the half-hour mark, collecting the ball and hammering a shot over the stranded McCormack from at least 25 yards out.
Newport were unbowed and more good football from then saw them go close twice, with smart blocks needed from Vines and Woolner.
But Joe McCormack was soon picking the ball out of the back of the net and it was another stunning strike. Butler said, ?Anything an international can do, I can do too? as the ball dropped to him on the edge of the area and he smashed into the top corner off the outside of his right foot.
Two minutes later he barnstormed his way to his second and his side?s fourth. He spoke in the matchday programme of creating things out of nothing by chasing lost causes and that?s precisely what he did here ? winning the ball out on the right wing after chasing down a wayward pass, cutting inside and shooting past McCormack at the near post for 4-0.
Newport were finally shell-shocked to find themselves so far behind so quickly and staggered off to regroup at half-time. The Dons could have been forgiven a swagger as they did the same.
But Dave didn?t let the team rest on their laurels and the effort and commitment remained the same in the second half. Ursell unleashed a shot which McCormack couldn?t hold. Smeltz?s professional instinct saw him follow it up and he gleefully smashed it home as Hawaii Five-Oh rang out around the ground for the second time this season.
Smeltz then tested McCormack with another drive from distance that bounced up and was tipped behind. Howard went close again from the corner but his header was blocked.
With 15 minutes remaining, Woolner marauded forward and evaded Barsdell?s challenge. He set up substitute Leon McDowall, who was crudely hacked down in the area. Smeltz stepped up with the chance for a debut hat-trick but a fairly weak penalty was well saved by McCormack low to his left.
Woolner then drew another fine save from McCormack before exiting the game to rapturous applause after an excellent performance. Smeltz went close from another corner as the Dons searched for a sixth. McDowall produced another lively cameo as the home side ensured they kept the pedal to the metal, but they had to make do with just the five goals. McDowall had a shot blocked in injury time and Ursell somehow curled the rebound wide when a sixth looked certain. After good work by Smeltz, Ursell then beat McCormack with a chip, but the ball rebounded down off the crossbar.
Newport were far from the worst side to visit Kingsmeadow this season and will have left wondering just how they were beaten quite so comprehensively. The Dons fans will have left simply wondering how soon the next game is. More please.