AFC Wimbledon 8 - Bedfont 0
AFTER being named acting first team manager, Nicky English then watched his side rack up a record home win against one of the better sides in the league.
A rout of such proportions seemed unlikely in the first half. Bedfont were among the more adventurous sides to have visited Kingsmeadow and, with Yousif Fofamah instrumental as predicted, matched the Dons in the early stages. But with their top scorer for the season Mark Postins no longer at the club, they struggled to turn early possession into clear cut chances.
It took 20 minutes for Wimbledon to open their account for the afternoon. A free-kick pinballed around on the edge of the Bedfont box until Andy Sullivan collected it, dribbled wide and swung in a cross. Matt Everard beat the keeper to the ball and it dropped over the line off the back of his head. A Bedfont defender hacked it away and confusion reigned for several seconds until it became clear that the linesman's outstretched arm indicated his belief that the ball had indeed crossed the line.
Six minutes later Kevin Cooper made a similar run and produced a cross that similarly found the head of Everard. His header beat the keeper again but was headed off the line this time.
Stevenson produced good saves to deny Cooper and Joe Sheerin, before Lovett spurned a great chance to equalise, blasting over from close range when unmarked. Not long afterwards, the Dons' second arrived as Ryan Gray chipped the ball over a static back four and Sheerin raced through to reach the ball before Stevenson and clip it into the net.
A 2-0 half-time score and a solid display from the visitors gave few hints at the carnage that was to follow the interval. Paul Scott replaced Cooper and embarked on a clinical demolition job.
But it was Bedfont who had the first chance of the half and Lee Carroll produced a fine low save on the way to his fourth successive clean sheet. Then a third goal came from a third right wing cross. Steve Gibson was the provider this time. His cross sailed over Sheerin's head but dropped at the feet of Scott, who stroked back across the keeper for 3-0.
Four minutes later Darren Dobinson got in on the act, gliding down the left wing and putting in a great cross, which eluded the Bedfont defence. Paul Scott ran in to sidefoot it home and leap the keeper's despairing lunge. A fine passing move saw Scott, Dobinson and Bolger combine well, but the Irishman's shot was blocked.
Paul Quinn replaced Dobinson on 56 minutes before the game took a surprisingly violent turn just after the hour mark. Seb Favata fouled Fofamah and was pushed to the ground by Griffith. Players from both sides were then involved in a lengthy bout of pushing and shoving. After consulting both linesmen, the referee booked Danny Oakins and Griffith and sent off the visitors' captain, Richard Bryant. Oakins was somewhat confused to be told he was being booked for the original foul. Griffith himself escaped further censure for screaming obscenities in the direction of the Main Stand.
The Dons refused to take their foot off the pedal and ran in four further goals in the last 20 minutes. First, Oakins headed home a Gray free-kick at the back post after Sheerin had been fouled. Then Gray pulled a shot wide after good work by Gray and Quinn missed after being set up by Oakins.
Scott completed his hat-trick with 11 minutes remaining. Sheerin took the ball out wide and delivered his cross onto his strike partner's head. Scott's header was saved by Stevenson, but he reacted first and tapped the rebound in to become the sixth man to score an AFC Wimbledon hat-trick.
Five minutes later the crowd were treated to the rare collectors' item of a Sullivan headed goal. From Gray's cross he didn't catch his header that hard, but Stevenson's outstretched hand couldn't keep it out and it flew in off his glove for 7-0.
Finally, in injury time, Gray took advantage of a goalmouth scramble to bundle the ball into the net and enable Phillo to dust off the old Steps classic, "5,6,7,8".
Three games, three wins, three clean sheets and 22 goals scored. It's easy this management lark, isn't it, Nicky?