The Dons emerged victorious after a titanic end-to-end tussle in the Surrey Senior Cup Final, triumphing 2-1 after extra-time.
Dave Anderson had long pledged to send out a 3-5-2 formation and match Walton man-for-man in terms of position, but his plans were thrown into late disarray when captain Steve Butler fell victim to horrendous tailbacks on the M25 and failed to make the ground in time for kick-off. Steve Gibson stepped in at right wing-back and Antony Howard moved into the back three alongside Cooper and Gell.
Walton fizzed an early cross across the face of goal to no avail and Butler and Smeltz saw early breaks snuffed out before the officials took centre stage. First the linesman flagged risibly after a perfectly good Antony Howard tackle. Then the subsequent free-kick was headed against the crossbar, but the assistant referee made amends by flagging for offside as a Walton player gleefully smashed the rebound home.
At the other end, the Dons broke with purpose and Thompson was rightly carded for a two-footed lunge on Rob Ursell with his studs up. Gindre then came out of his goal well to claim an Ursell corner under pressure.
From a second Dons break, a second Walton player had his name taken as Frontin tripped Richard Butler. This time Walton conceded more than a free-kick as the ball was chipped to the edge of the box. Shane Smeltz swiveled to fire an unstoppable volley past Gindre and into the back of the net from well outside the area for an early 1-0 lead. Oh. My. God. (Sorry, I can?t find words to describe it any better ? wait for the video and you?ll see why).
Walton remained understandably undaunted and went close immediately afterwards when Nwokeji couldn?t quite take advantage of a free-header from a free-kick when the Dons? marking seemed all at seas. Then they fired a second free-kick over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.
Smeltz sent a second snapshot volley wide on another Dons break, but in truth Walton enjoyed the better of the first-half possession. Naisbitt raced off his line to punch clear under pressure from Frontin and won a free-kick as the Walton player clattered him. The Wimbledon keeper then saved well diving low to his right when Harkness curled a vicious shot goalwards. The Dons then enjoyed another let-off when Gibson tripped the tricky Riddell on the edge of the area, but Walton wasted the free-kick as they sent it low into the area. Ursell broke clear, but his cross was headed away before Micky Woolner could pounce.
Walton were then handed the chance to get back on terms when Thompson pumped the ball long into the box. The ball bounced harmlessly through as Nwokeji tumbled theatrically in front of Chris Gell. But the referee adjudged the ?challenge? to merit a penalty and Lampton lamped it into the back of the net for 1-1. In fairness, an equaliser was probably coming on the balance of play as the Dons conceded possession too frequently and too easily, but the penalty award still rankled.
Finally the Dons threatened again, as Richard Butler won a corner, but once more Gindre came out well to claim Gray?s cross. Smeltz was fouled out wide, but Gray?s cross was punched clear by Gindre.
Howard then had his name taken for a poor tackle and Walton won a corner from the free-kick, from which a cross was curled all the way across the face of the goal and behind. Keevil won a free-kick with what can only be called a dive, but it came to nothing as the half-time whistle sounded.
Dave Anderson brought Steve Butler on at half-time, who had arrived midway through the first period, as the Dons looked to exert more pressure after the interval. Cooper set the tone with a shuddering but fair challenge on Frontin, before Ursell won a free-kick as he was held back well outside the Walton area. Ursell took the free-kick himself, but failed to trouble Gindre.
Thurgood then fouled Smeltz, but both players had to leave the field with injuries. The Walton man made it back on almost immediately, but the Kiwi striker trotted down the tunnel requiring the doctor?s attention for a head injury. Richard Butler performed minor heroics upfront on his own to win a throw-in, only to see the referee incredibly award the decision the other way. After a small session of hangbags midway inside the Dons? half ran time down further, Smeltz re-emerged with six stitches in his head.
Gell was booked for a trip on Sibohy as the game threatened to turn fractious, but the free-kick was cleared and the Dons regrouped. Walton then won another free-kick and shouted loudly for handball as Nwokeji attempted to fire goalwards in a goalmouth scramble, but the referee was, for once, unmoved by their appeals.
A Bates? slip allowed Harkness to race away on a break, but Naisbitt held on to his low shot at the second attempt. Ursell then tried to surprise Gindre with a near-post shot after good hold-up play from Richard Butler, but the Walton keeper, in impressive form once more, was more than equal to the challenge.
Smeltz nearly sent Howard away with a deft flick-on, but Thurgood raced across to knock the ball clear with a fantastic tackle. Keevil then fizzed a vicious drive from distance narrowly wide for Walton.
Ursell sent Gray scampering down the wing with a delightful flick after riding two tackles, but the left-back sent in two disappointing crosses and the ball was cleared. Richard Butler was sent crashing to the ground on the edge of the penalty area and went down clutching his head. Mike Rayner administered lengthy treatment, but he became the second Dons striker to leave the field with a head injury. While he was away, Ursell set off on a trademark jinking run and shot over the bar. Butler returned immediately afterwards.
The Dons had looked the stronger in the second period, but the game continued to ebb and flow in an end-to-end fashion as the game neared the end of the 90 minutes. Gray won a corner and the 2,000 strong Dons contingent behind the goal tried to roar the ball into the back of the net, but Ursell?s dangerous cross was headed away. Walton nearly threatened on a break again, but Bates covered well. Steve Butler was then forced to concede Walton?s first corner of the half as the 90 minutes drew to a close, but the Dons were awarded a freekick for pushing as the ball curled harmlessly behind.
As injury time entered its third minute, Richard Butler won the Dons a corner. Gray sent it to the near post and Gindre punched it behind again. The second cross was headed behind the other side for a third corner, which was eventually hacked clear. Bates sent the ball swinging back to the back post and Gindre couldn?t claim the ball, but Ursell?s shot was hacked away as the goalkeeper struggled to get back in position.
The Dons won yet another free-kick for handball as matters turned frenetic, with Gindre racing out to deny Richard Butler. The resultant corner was cleared and the referee drew 90 minutes of frantic football to a close with the sides still level.
Both sides started the first extra period at a pace that was, if anything, even faster than the preceding spells of normal time. Walton had a couple of shots blocked by Steve Butler and Bates, before Gindre was called on once more to dominate his area from a couple of corners.
But on 99 minutes, the Dons took the lead once more. Not for the first time this season, Rob Ursell was the catalyst. He turned his man inside out, drifted into the penalty area, drew another challenge and pulled the ball back to Richard Butler. Gindre saved superbly with a low block, but Ursell won the ball again and it squirmed back to Butler, who slammed the ball past the stricken goalkeeper for 2-1. The entire bench and the cavernous Dons crowd in the main stand went predictably mental, as the Dons fans in the smaller terrace at the other end embraced Butler.
The first period drew to a close as Walton battled hard, with only a superb tackle from Gell denying them a shooting opportunity, before Naisbitt was able to hack the ball clear.
Into the second period, and the game continued to shred nerves of anyone within a five mile radius of Woking. Richard Butler was correctly given offside on a break, before Walton sent a couple of crosses into the box to no avail. Howard then nearly played Butler clear, but Gindre raced out to claim the ball. Weekend goalscoring hero Gavin Bolger replaced Bates with eight minutes remaining as the Dons looked to cling on to the prize.
More sublime Ursell skill nearly put the match beyond doubt as he tormented his opposite number before teeing up Micky Woolner, but Woolner?s drive was too close to Gindre and the goalkeeper clung on.
As the match went into injury time, Ursell raced away on yet another break and laid the ball into the area for Smeltz, but with only Gindre to beat he fired over the bar. It didn?t matter. The final whistle soon sounded for signal a double double for the boys in blue and yellow.