The Dons travelled to their second-successive higher-ranked opposition in the FA Cup and romped to an enjoyable 3-0 victory, with Robert Ursell notching all three goals. But it was above all a well-drilled and professional performance from front to back that gave Wimbledon?s forward line the platform from which to shine.
Both sides looked to make an early breakthrough, but the first real chance fell to the Dons. Joe Sheerin flicked on a free-kick into the area and Richard Butler, the defender and goalkeeper all collided without making any real contact with the ball. Sheerin pounced to stab a shot goalwards, but his mis-hit effort was deflected into the goalkeeper?s chest by a defender.
A whistle-happy referee meant the game struggled to find any natural rhythm, with petty free-kicks interrupting the passage of play at regular intervals.
Not for the first time, Robert Ursell was the key to unlocking the opposition defence. This time, it was sheer power rather than skill that did the trick. Just after quarter-of-an-hour had been played, Jon-Barrie Bates laid the ball off to the wizard about 20 yards out. He brought his right foot back and sent a howitzer into the top corner for a truly magnificent goal.
Five minutes later home keeper Paul Taylor raced out of his area to head clear as Ursell threatened to run onto a long ball over the top from Danny Naisbitt.
Dunstable had already shown that they were capable of playing some good football and they continued to threaten. Carney sent a chance wide from a free-kick as the home side enjoyed more possession. The same player then sent a sharp-chance over the bar as he lunged to connect with a dipping right-wing cross. Almost immediately, Sheerin was bundled off the ball by the last defender as he chased a through-ball.
Butler won the ball from Mark Kefford and broke away, but was eventually driven wide as he looked to home in on goal. The resultant corner was headed off the line at the back post.
Having required treatment, Sheerin limped off after 33 minutes, to be replaced by Martin Randall. Almost immediately, Steve Gibson jinked past two men on the halfway line and found himself in the clear and racing through on goal. He outpaced the chasing pack of defenders, but Taylor came out to block well.
The game continued in an exciting end-to-end fashion. It seemed as though Gibson?s miss would prove costly as Carney had a free-header from another excellent right-wing cross but the much-touted striker somehow sent his effort wide of the post.
Dunstable continued to find space on both flanks, but their final delivery was generally easily dealt with by the Dons defence. At the other end, Ursell and Butler both ran onto another ball over the top in the swirling wind, but Ursell elected not to shoot first time and Butler?s header was well saved by Taylor. The goalkeeper then managed to clutch Ursell?s flicked follow-up gratefully into his chest after a chaotic scramble.
Jonathan Barnett then jinked his way down the left-wing for Dunstable, cut inside and unleashed a shot which fizzed high and wide across the face of goal.
In first-half injury time, just as it seemed the Dons would rue their missed chances with the wind in their favour, a back-post Gibson cross beat everyone and an unmarked Ursell headed into an unguarded net for a excellent 2-0 lead. But Wimbledon went in knowing the wind would help Dunstable?s attempts to get back on terms in the second period.
But the second-half fears were dispelled almost immediately by that man Ursell. With eight minutes of the second period played, Bates climbed well to win a header in the middle of the park and Ursell collected the ball, looked up, and lofted the ball over a stranded Taylor from fully 30 yards, completing his hat-trick with a third goal even better than his first.
Almost immediately afterwards, Dunstable nearly pulled one back as a shot from the edge of the box was headed against the crossbar. Following some excellent one-touch passing, only a superb last minute intervention by Antony Howard denied Carney when he looked odds-on to slot home from close range.
As the home side pushed up, Jay Conroy sprung the defence with a measured chip. Ursell raced cleared with Butler behind him. Ursell elected to take it on his own and rounded the keeper, but was driven wide and Butler was unable to send the ball back across goal for the waiting Randall. But such profligacy can be forgiven when you?ve already netted three.
With 20 minutes gone, home goalkeeper Taylor was rather bizarrely, not to mention prematurely, named as Man of the Match by the home sponsors. But the home side?s forward players kept at their task well and only a fine tackle from Gell prevented another shot heading goalwards.
As the game meandered towards a satisfactory conclusion, a man apparently known as Moggsy charged onto the playing surface wearing only a pair of socks. He ran the length of the pitch before leaping exuberantly onto Taylor in what can only be termed an extremely affectionate embrace. He then turned round and sprinted up the goal-line before slide-tackling the assistant referee and eventually being led from the premises by the local constabulary.
Ursell was withdrawn from the fray as injury-time loomed large and left to a standing ovation. His team-mates finished off a comprehensive demolition job in a professional manner and sent AFC Wimbledon into the Third Qualifying Round in style.