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Saturday 19 February 2005
Ryman League, Division One

Hastings United    1 - 1    AFC Wimbledon
Marcus Sawyerr (29)
  (73) Mark Cooper
 Matt Brown 1 Paul Smith 
 Jimmy Elford 2 Antony Howard 
 Richard Bolton 3 Mark Jones (sub 60) 
 Sean Ray 4 Leon McDowall 
 Peter Mortley 5 Steve Gibson 
 Scot Mulholland 6 Mark Cooper 
 Mitchell Sherwood 7 Robert Ursell (sub 86) 
(sub 64)  Ben White 8 Chris Gell 
 Chris Honey 9 Andrew Martin ( 68) 
(sub 87)  Simon Rowland 10 Jon-Barrie Bates 
(sub 84)  Marcus Sawyerr 11 Gavin Bolger 
(sub 87)  Lee Barnett 12 Andy Frost (sub 86) 
  13 Danny Naisbitt 
 Carl Rook 14 Joe Sheerin 
(sub 84)  Steve Sands 15 Martin Randall 
 Shaun Reece 16 Ryan Gray (sub 60) 
(sub 64)  Andy Ducille 17  

Match report

The Dons scrapped to a 1-1 draw at Hastings, enjoying the lion?s share of possession but failing to create enough clear-cut chances to feel particularly hard done by.

The 4-3-1-2 system, so effective against Burgess Hill in midweek, was retained, although Ursell appeared to have slightly less of a licence to roam, with Steve Gibson starting at right-back and Antony Howard alongside Mark Cooper as Steve Butler failed a late fitness test. Gavin Bolger came into midfield in place of the injured Gareth Graham. Richard Butler also failed a fitness test, so Leon McDowall kept the number four shirt on at centre-forward. Joe Sheerin, who some fans may remember playing up front for the Dons once upon a time, earned a surprise recall to the bench.

It was the hosts Hastings who came out of the blocks first, forcing a corner in the first minute. Mulholland was given a free header, but couldn?t send it through the crowd of players in front of him and it was hacked away. A second corner followed which Smith claimed well.

Gibson then set the Dons away on their first attack as he found Bolger on the right hand side. McDowall collected his low cross and went done under a challenge in the penalty area, but the referee was unmoved by fairly tepid appeals.

Hastings just shaded the early stages, with the Dons? next chance coming from a freekick after a foul on Martin. Brown flapped at Ursell?s freekick and sent it behind, but Jones? corner couldn?t clear the first man.

McDowall was in a busy mood again, pressuring Brown into a poor clearance and looking full of running up front. Ursell then had the best chance of the match thus far as Bolger crossed after good work by Martin. He opted to shoot first time as the ball dropped to him on the penalty spot, but Brown got down to save easily enough.

But immediately afterwards, Hastings went into the lead. Rowland chipped the ball between the Dons centre-backs and tumbled to the floor. A free-kick was given on the edge of the box and Sawyer stepped up to curl it accurately into the top corner, with Smith unable to get across.

Cooper then had a shot blocked from a corner, but a low cross at the other end nearly caused a rattled Dons defence problems until Howard eventually hacked it clear. Finally the Dons exerted some spells of pressure as they managed to keep hold of the ball. Good work from Gibson won another corner, but once more Hastings players were first to the ball.

As half-time neared, Ray sent a tame free header back to Smith from a narrow angle, while Martin headed wide from a good Ursell cross after more tenacious set-up play from McDowall. Another poor Dons delivery from a corner, this time from Ursell, turned attack into defence. Rowland?s cross-cum shot was cleared by Bolger when danger threatened behind him.

Wimbledon came out with renewed purpose in the second half and it took a smart stop from Brown to deny Gell, diving low to his left to palm away the midfielder?s volley. McDowall then battled well to win the ball on the right wing and bisected the defence with a great square ball. Ursell collected the ball in acres of space, but opted to take on his man rather than shoot first time from the edge of the box. He managed to round the keeper, but Mortley got across to put in a block tackle.

Ryan Gray replaced Jones on the hour mark as Wimbledon made all the running. Two goalmouth scrambles came to nothing as Hastings dealt with the aerial threat and hacked the ball away. Ursell then tried to surprise Brown with a quick shot from distance, but the keeper scurried across to save and hold the ball.

McDowall was felled winning a header and the offence seemed to occur inside the area, but the referee awarded the Dons a freekick on the edge of the box. From pretty much the same spot as Sawyerr had scored, Gray saw his free-kick deflect behind off the wall.

Gray sent in a back-post corner and Mark Cooper leapt highest to send a header back across the goalkeeper and into the top right corner for 1-1 on 73 minutes.

Hastings finally emerged out of their own half and Rowland sent a turn and volley over the bar at the back post from a corner. Gray put in another good corner for Wimbledon just under the bar but it was headed away and Ursell?s follow-up blocked. McDowall was then flagged offside when he quite clearly wasn?t, much to the chagrin of the Dons? bench.

A great pass from Bates sent Ursell away on the left-wing. He won a throw-in and the eventual cross fell between McDowall and Bolger, but neither could force it home.

Despite some late pressure, the Dons couldn?t find a winner. But Dave Anderson will no doubt be happy enough with a point from this South Coast trip to keep his side well ahead of the chasing pack before the Bryco Cup Quarter Final at Slough.

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