The Dons won through to the next round of the Bryco Cup with a victory more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. Leon McDowall got the nod ahead of Richard Butler up front and Wes Goggin continued to deputise in place of the injured Ryan Gray, with Micky Woolner sweeping once more behind Matt Everard and Antony Howard.
Wimbledon?s first chance came on nine minutes, when Rob Ursell slid the ball into the area for McDowall. He took too long over his shot and was tackled. From a corner, Everard?s header was turned towards goal by Howard and blocked. Woolner hooked the rebound goalwards but it cannoned off two defenders on the line and was hacked to safety.
Gavin Bolger and Chris Gell became the first players to have their names taken by the referee, although similar transgressions from Horsham players (and, it must be admitted, Howard) went inconsistently unpunished.
Just before the half-hour mark, Martin Randall broke the deadlock, collecting an Ursell square pass, dropping his shot and firing a low shot past Burton via a slight deflection. He nearly pounced on a long through ball soon afterwards, but French recovered well to snuff out the opportunity. There were few further chances for either side before the break, with ex-Don Jamie Taylor sending one shot high and wide for the home side.
As half-time loomed, a Horsham player finally had his name taken as Payne was carded for a two footed lunge on Randall.
The second half brought a further goal for each side and some idiosyncratic refereeing. Butler replaced Randall and almost immediately set up McDowall, but his high shot was palmed away by Burton. Butler then forced Burton into a good save from a Gibson cross, only to see the offside flag raised. With an hour gone, the blond striker gave the Dons the cushion of a two-goal lead as he collected a McDowell cutback on the edge of the area and steered a low precise shot into the bottom corner of the net.
More good work from McDowell and Ursell set Butler up again shortly afterwards, but he reached for the ball and poked it over the bar. Three errors in a row nearly resulted in a goal as Woolner mishit a cross and Gibson miscontrolled it, but sadly Gell completed the trilogy by mishitting the shot and dragged it wide from the edge of the area.
French was booked for a late foul on Butler, which meant he had to limp off and be replaced by Joe Sheerin. In the aftermath, Matt Everard was also booked, seemingly for dissent, and Dave Anderson left the dugout following a discussion with the referee.
Lee Carney was then perhaps fortunate only to see yellow for hacking Bolger?s legs away several seconds after the ball had been played, as the game became fractious. The referee gave Horsham a lifeline with a late penalty, presumably adjudging Howard to have impeded Croft in the air. Carney stepped up to stroke it home and halve the deficit with ten minutes remaining.
But the Dons? organised defence rarely looked troubled after that, with Woolner continuing to tidy up imperiously and Everard and Howard dominant in the air. In fact, the remaining chances all fell to Wimbledon. Sheerin tried to chip Burton when through on goal but was denied by a good save and Everard headed over from a corner.
All in all, it was an excellently structured display form the Dons against the side currently lying second in the league and they were good value for their win.