Walton Casuals 0 - AFC Wimbledon 3
AFC Wimbledon secured the league championship with an untroubled 3-0 win at Walton Causals, sparking chaotic scenes of celebration. A draw between AFC Wallingford and Reading Town in the morning kick-off meant Nicky English and his side knew a victory would make the title mathematically certain. With Jamie Angell ruled out by suspension, Danny Oakins reverted to centre back and Lee Sidwell filled in at full-back.
The team actually appeared nervous for once as they ran out in the all-white strip, and struggled to dominate the game as much as they would like on a difficult surface.
But nerves were soon calmed by a trademark set piece goal. Ryan Gray swung the ball into the six yard box and Matt Everard (who else?) powered home a header on just four minutes. "Not Everard again," groaned the home officials, as the first tentative bursts of "Champions" rang out prematurely from sections of the crowd.
One goal was never going to be enough to feel secure against a side that have caused the Dons a few problems in previous meetings, but the cushion of a second came on 17 minutes. Kevin Cooper netted his 52nd of the season with a low drive that fortuitously deflected off a defender's leg and bobbled over the keeper's dive. It wasn't the most well struck shot, but no-one was minded to complain about the outcome.
Both sides huffed and puffed for the remainder of the half without creating any real chances of note. Ex-Don Craig Carley fizzed a shot wide for the Casuals and Gray blazed a difficult chance over the bar after an Everard knock-down.
In the second-half, as the volume increased, Cooper put the result beyond doubt with a shimmy and low fizzing shot from the edge of the area on 63 minutes. Thereafter Everard headed a corner over and Jamie Taylor was denied by a near post block after being set up by Gavin Bolger and Shane Small-King. The best remaining chance fell to Taylor, but he took too long on the ball when clean through and allowed Andrews to save.
While not carving out as many chances as in previous games, the Dons looked untroubled at the back and, with Simon Bassey, Gareth Graham and Paul Quinn getting into the action as substitutes, they played out time until the final whistle confirmed that the CCL trophy will be heading for Kingsmeadow on May 8.
Jamie Angell and the injured Andy Sullivan, Joe Sheerin and Steve Gibson joined the management team by the dugout with the first bottles of champagne in their hands. As the whistle went, the whole squad ran to the packed end behind the goal they had been attacking and the celebrations began. After a lap of the pitch, the team congregated in front of the tunnel and were joined by the vast majority of the near-capacity crowd.
The celebrations continued afterwards at Kingsmeadow as fans, players, management and officials marked the momentous achievement of securing the title at Easter and the first league crown for a Wimbledon side since the Division Four championship in 1983. Championes, championes, ole, ole, ole?