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Saturday 16 April 2005
Ryman League, Division One

Tooting & Mitcham United    1 - 1    AFC Wimbledon
Wayne Cort (34)
  (80) Michael Woolner
 Jonty Venter 1 Danny Naisbitt 
 Ryan Adams 2 Lewis Hamilton 
(sub 77)  Craig Tanner 3 Mark Cooper ( 81) 
 Daniel Nwanze 4 Chris Gell 
 Justin Bowen 5 Steve Butler 
 Gavin Rose 6 Antony Howard 
( 85)  Matt Howard 7 Robert Ursell 
 Scott Kinch 8 Jon-Barrie Bates 
(sub 66)  Jason Pinnock 9 Shane Smeltz 
 Wayne Cort 10 Leon McDowall (sub 74) 
 James Husband 11 Gavin Bolger (sub 70) 
 Eben Allen 12 Michael Woolner (sub 70) ( 82) 
  13 Matt Martin 
(sub 66)  John Hastings 14 Steve Gibson 
 Solomon Taiwo 15 Ryan Gray 
(sub 77)  Joe Harrison 16 Mark King (sub 74) 
 Danny Twin 17  

Match report

The champions shared the spoils in the Merton derby rematch, after a late equaliser from Micky Woolner.

Dave Anderson stuck with the 3-5-2 formation, with Antony Howard and Lewis Hamilton as the wing-backs. Gavin Bolger replaced Micky Woolner in midfield, with impressive youngster Mark King handed a place on the bench.

And it was the overlapping Howard who had the Dons? first chance, running on to a cute Shane Smeltz flick, but he was denied by Venter. Venter then clearly slide outside the area still handling the ball a matter of yards in front of the linesman, but bizarrely no decision was given.

Tooting then mustered their first real chance as Howard rattled the crossbar, before Naisbitt easily collected Pinnock?s header from the rebound.

Thereafter the game continued in a scrappy fashion until Tooting took the lead in controversial circumstances on 34 minutes. Leon McDowall was kicked and clobbered three times, but the referee waved play on. Bolger fouled the left-winger and Tooting received a free-kick as treatment was finally allowed for the stricken McDowall.

The free-kick was whipped in low and somehow ended up in the back of the net, with the Tooting players rushing to congratulate Wayne Cort after a whole group of players threw themselves at the ball.

Wimbledon were swift to get back at their hosts, and Mark Cooper headed over from an excellent Hamilton corner. A second corner was bundled clear as the Dons looked to get back on terms before the interval. But the half-time whistle came with the score still 1-0.

The game seemed more open in the second half, as both sides won early corners but neither keeper was troubled. Venter then dropped a cross under pressure from Steve Butler, but was able to block Cooper?s attempt to hook it goalwards. Smeltz headed over from an Ursell free-kick after good work by Butler.

Husband had a low drive easily saved by Naisbitt. Hamilton then dithered in possession and was caught by Kinch, but his blushes were spared by an excellent covering tackle from Bolger. Bolger then shot wide at the other end of the pitch after Smeltz had sent Ursell scampering up the inside-left channel.

John Hastings came off the bench for Tooting and was immediately involved in the action, only denied by an excellent one-handed Naisbitt stop from Howard?s cross. He then pushed the Dons keeper over as he threw the ball out. The home fans were up in arms for a penalty claim shortly afterwards as Naisbitt came out to block from Taiwo and both players ended up on the ground in a heap, but nothing was given.

McDowall won Wimbledon another corner and Venter came out excellently to claim it after a Butler header. The impressive Kinch then spurned a glorious chance to make the game safe for Tooting when he sent a free header high and wide from the edge of the six-yard box.

With 16 minutes remaining, King replaced McDowall for his first taste of first-team action as Wimbledon looked to earn a share of the spoils. He had a couple of deft touches, but when the equaliser came it was via the rather less predictable source of fellow substitute Micky Woolner.

Bates was tripped about 35 yards out near the left-hand touchline and a free-kick was given. Woolner chipped it into the box and as Butler air-kicked in a comic manner Venter was distracted. The ball bounced and looped over the stranded keeper and in off the crossbar. Ha ha.

Another well-worked free-kick from Woolner sent Ursell free up the left, but his chipped cross was too deep. The Dons continued to press and won another corner and free-kick, but couldn?t trouble Venter again.

Tooting rallied for a late surge in search of three vital points for their play-off aspirations but Hastings drove wide from the edge of the box. They had the satisfaction of being the only team in the division the champions have not beaten this season, and a draw was probably a fair result after a fairly scrappy but entertaining game.

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