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Wednesday 18 August 2004
Ryman League, Division One

Croydon Athletic    1 - 3    AFC Wimbledon
Danny Stassinos (72)
  (04) Robert Ursell
(28) Robert Ursell
(66) Jamie Taylor
 Rob Frankland 1 Danny Naisbitt 
 Gavin Harrison 2 Michael Woolner 
(sub 46)  Leon Johnson 3 Ryan Gray 
 Anthony Funnell 4 Antony Howard 
( 5)  Jamie Hall 5 Matt Everard ( 55) 
(sub 71)  Jay Richardson 6 Steve Butler ( 90) 
 James Evans 7 Robert Ursell 
 Barry Stevens 8 Gavin Bolger 
 Matt Fowler 9 Richard Butler (sub 65) 
(sub 46)  Paul Scott 10 Jamie Taylor 
 Danny Stassinos 11 Chris Gell 
 Jon Waite 12 Gareth Graham 
  13 Paul Smith 
(sub 46)  Billy Jackson 14 Martin Randall 
 Den Loach 15 Joe Sheerin (sub 65) 
(sub 71)  John Fowler 16 Steve Gibson 
(sub 46)  Danny Cecil 17  

Match report

After an easy opening victory against Ashford, the Dons found a much sterner test on their trip to Mayfields, but still emerged victorious 3-1. Dave Anderson named an unchanged side, while Croydon Athletic started with ex-Don Paul Scott upfront.

But it was his away counterpart Richard Butler who engineered a breakthrough on just four minutes, racing onto a through ball and rounding the keeper. When his shot was blocked, Robert Ursell calmly dragged the ball away from the defender and curled it round the man on the line for his first competitive goal.

Matt Fowler drove just wide as Croydon looked to get on terms immediately. At the other end, Gavin Bolger swung a great cross in, which was just cleared off Jamie Taylor?s head. Richard Butler couldn?t connect with his follow-up from the edge of the area.

The Dons then survived a scare as Stevens went down in a fairly flagrant attempt to win a penalty, but Naisbitt was tackled as he came out to tidy up. Fortunately, Evans? eventual shot from distance was easily blocked. A minute later, Stevens drove just over the bar as the rain began to fall.

But the second goal went Wimbledon?s way, with Richard Butler again instrumental. His clever flick and turn took him past his man and his square-ball was swept imperiously into the net by Ursell from the edge of the area with 28 minutes played.

Croydon had more possession as half-time neared, but the Dons dealt with the danger comfortably and looked to hit on the break. Only an excellent last ditch tackle from Funnell denied Butler as half-time neared.

By now the heavens had well and truly opened as Croydon entered monsoon season, but the Dons weathered the storm for a hard-won lead at the interval.

The rain abated and Croydon made two changes at the start of the second half. They took the game to the Dons, but found no way through the yellow wall as the defence stood firm. Stevens spurned a great chance by shooting wide when well-placed in the clearest-cut early chance. Wimbledon once more looked to net a third on the break to put the game beyond doubt. From a corner, only a superb one-handed tip-over by Frankland prevented Antony Howard?s header from hitting the back of the net.

Yet again the Dons responded to soaking up a spell of pressure by scoring themselves. Joe Sheerin replaced Richard Butler and set up the third with his first touch after 66 minutes. His delightful backheel was hammered home by Taylor racing into the area behind him.

Croydon dragged themselves back into the game with 18 minutes remaining as Wimbledon proved themselves masters of their own undoing. An innocuous square ball was allowed to dribble between Everard and Howard with any communication sadly lacking and Stassinos pounced to slide a shot under Naisbitt for 3-1.

Croydon huffed and puffed in search of a second, but the Dons were not to be denied a second successive victory which kept them at the top of the table. They were in fact unlucky not to net a fourth on two occasions in injury-time as Taylor?s first touch took a through-ball from Ursell too close to the keeper and then the same player headed wide when unmarked.

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