AFC Wimbledon got off to a winning start in their first Ryman League Premier Division season, with a 4-1 home victory over Folkestone Invicta which left the Dons sitting pretty at the top of the table.
An unusual 4-3-3 formation saw Wayne Finnie and Dave Sargent as traditional full-backs. Wes Daly?s start was another surprise, and one that paid off with the ex-QPR and Raith Rovers midfielder putting in a solid claim for a regular start before being substituted at half time.
The game started gingerly but before long the Dons were in front, Shane Smeltz tapping in from close range after Invicta ?keeper Kessell failed to hold on to an Amadou Kouman shot. Wimbledon dominated the game before and after that 12th-minute goal and most in the ground thought the lead should have been extended with a penalty, after Richard Butler appeared to be shoved to the ground in the box, but referee Yerby was having none of it.
The Dons were shaping to go into the break with a lead until Folkestone?s Paul Jones finally connected with a cross from the left in an onside position and Dave Anderson?s half-time team talk changed shape (and probably colour) in a matter of seconds.
With Barry Moore on for Daly, Wimbledon started the second half as they meant to go on, with Richard Butler scoring after only four minutes. With the Folkestone defence and travelling support screaming for an offside flag, Butler?s speed took him well clear and he rounded the hapless Kessell and rifled home despite the last-ditch efforts of the Folkestone defence. During the arguments after the goal, Invicta?s Scott Lindsey was booked for dissent.
It was another twenty minutes before Matt York added a third, Shane Smeltz again closely involved as his lay-off was blasted home by the midfielder. The Kiwi womble was not finished, a few minutes later picking up the ball in his own half and going on a run to the edge of the Folkestone area before firing a low shot across the goalmouth which once again evaded the outstretched fingertips of Kessell.
With the points safe, there was time enough for Anderson to make two more changes, with Richard Butler replaced by new boy Matt Fowler on 71 minutes and Kouman swapped for the sole CCL survivor in the squad Ryan Gray with six minutes left.
So the season got off to a good start with a convincing win, albeit against an unfancied side. Tuesday?s trip to Maldon Town is expected to be a tougher test.