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Saturday 23 October 2004
Ryman League, Division One

Metropolitan Police    1 - 1    AFC Wimbledon
Rob Haworth (40)
  (59) Ryan Gray
 Stuart Mackenzie 1 Danny Naisbitt 
 Stuart Harte 2 Steve Gibson (sub 82) 
 Paul Barrowcliff 3 Ryan Gray 
 Paul Sears 4 Antony Howard 
 Dave Newman 5 Glenn Wilson 
 Jim Daly 6 Steve Butler 
(sub 57)  Craig Brown 7 Robert Ursell 
 Ian Batten 8 Chris Gell ( 42) 
 Rob Haworth 9 Richard Butler (sub 38) 
 Andy Oxby 10 Martin Randall 
 Byron Brown 11 Nick Roddis 
 Steve Flinn 12 Gavin Bolger (sub 82) 
  13 Paul Smith 
 Danny Bailley 14 Leon McDowall (sub 38) 
 Rob Tarrant 15 Matt Everard 
( 67) (sub 57)  Chris Rose 16 Jon-Barrie Bates 
 Matthew Fox 17  

Match report

Wimbledon dominated the match at Imber Court, but had to settle for a share of the spoils after being behind at the interval to second-placed Met Police.

Steve Butler came in for Jay Conroy at centre-back after several weeks out with cracked ribs, Nick Roddis got the nod to play alongside Robert Ursell and Chris Gell in the middle of the park and Martin Randall partnered Richard Butler upfront.

Ursell hit a free-kick into the wall as the Dons enjoyed early possession. Then Ryan Gray flicked a Butler header over his head for Randall to run onto. As the defender lost his footing the striker had men free in the box, but elected to take a shot himself and drove it into the side-netting from a tight angle. Players from both sides found it hard to keep their footing on the slippery surface, with Gell and Ursell both tumbling in attack for the Dons.

After a good passage of play between Antony Howard and Gray, Howard was upended by a late lunge from Daly, who received just a lecture from the referee.

As the heavens opened with ten minutes gone, the Dons forced the Police into some desperate defending. Steve Gibson?s cross was headed away from Butler, Randall?s shot was blocked with shouts for handball, Gell?s follow-up drive was also blocked, as was Roddis? attempt to send it goalwards from the edge of the box as the home side finally cleared their lines.

Butler then beat Police keeper Mackenzie, but his low crossfield ball fell behind Ursell, who was crowded out as he tried to turn it back at goal. Gibson then sent a excellent left-foot cross into the box and Gray?s header flew just wide.

Another passage of Dons pressure saw a Gibson drive from distance blocked before Ursell went closest to scoring as he rattled the crossbar with a shot from the edge of the area. With 27 minutes gone, Butler went down off the ball clutching his ankle, returned to the fray after a minute on the sidelines, but was clearly in some difficulties.

Having elected not to card Met Police players for frequent fouls, the referee showed Gell a yellow card for a trip as the home side broke. From the freekick, they sent a shot wide of Naisbitt?s goal. The Police had scarcely threatened, but a mix-up between Howard and Naisbitt after a header across goal from Daly. Butler finally gave up on his struggle to continue and was replaced by Leon McDowell on 38 minutes.

Totally against the run of play the Police took the lead. As with Thurrock the previous week, the goal came as the Dons expected a freekick in the middle of the park. Roddis was bundled to the ground and then held there, but nothing was given. The Police broke at pace and Howarth arrived in the box to head the ball past Naisbitt and into the back of the net for a shock lead.

The Dons almost responded immediately, as McDowell sent a great cross into the area and only a point blank save from Mackenzie prevented Randall equalising with a header. Three corners followed and there were loud shouts for handball as a Randall shot struck a Met Police arm, but yet again the referee was unmoved. Finally, as the half-time whistle neared, a promising attack was called to a halt for an unknown infringement by McDowell.

As the Dons looked to get back on term in the second half, McDowell had their first chance, leaving his marker on his backside before fizzing a low shot at Mackenzie. The rain hammered down ever harder as Wimbledon poured forward in search of an equaliser. Met Police set their stall out with eight men in defensive positions and Haworth and Oxby looking to create problems on the break.

A Gray cross somehow eluded both Mackenzie and Randall and McDowell?s follow-up cross was knocked behind, but the resultant corner came to nothing.

Finally, on 59 minutes the equaliser arrived. Ursell?s shot was blocked on the edge of the area. Gray reacted quickest to run onto the ball and fire across Mackenzie and into the bottom corner from a narrow angle for 1-1.

Brown then tried to catch Naisbitt napping with an audacious lob which he got back to tip over. His opposite number Mackenzie then denied Randall with another fantastic save when the Dons number 10 looked once more to have him beaten with a header.

Ursell sent a dipping shot onto the angle of post of bar as another corner was cleared, but as the rain slackened so did the pace of the game. Substitute Rose was booked for a late tackle on Gell, but Wimbledon struggled to string passes together as well as they had done at the start of the half as the Police kept men behind the ball and still looked to hit on the break. With a wall of blue in front of them, the Dons elected to shoot from distance. Ursell sent one effort just over the bar and Roddis drew another good save from Mackenzie. Ursell then lost his man as he latched onto a through-ball, but Sears recovered well to block his shot.

Gavin Bolger came on for Gibson as Dave Anderson urged the team forward in search of a second. McDowell unleashed a vicious shot from the edge of the box and Mackenzie plucked a third save out of the top drawer to tip it over. As the corner was half-cleared, an off-balance Ursell drove well over. Met Police sent two shots wide from distance when they threatened on the break.

Randall and McDowell exchanged passes, but the latter was crowded out. No-one could connect with a shot until Ursell eventually drove it over again after some determined Police defending.

The referee decided he?d seen enough and brought conclusions to a close after 16 seconds of injury time with honours even. The Dons had enough chances to win the encounter, but kept their unbeaten run intact and maintained their advantage at the top of the table.

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