This was the first competitive game between Chelmsford City and Wimbledon since 1976-77 season, when the two teams met in the Southern League. While the story of Wimbledon is well documented, Chelmsford also know what it is like to be homeless;and as a result it was to Billericay's New Lodge ground that travelling Dons fans headed in the autumn sunshine.
AFC Wimbledon boss Dave Anderson was forced to rearrange his team . With both Chris Gell and Wes Daly missing from his midfield, through illness and injury, Anderson decided to move skipper Steve Butler into an uncustomary central midfield berth.
Chelmsford started the brighter and the lively Craig Edwards brought a save from Andy Little after six minutes. The Dons first real chance fell to Dwayne Plummer who ran onto a Steve Butler knock down, but his effort was comfortably saved by Gavin King in the Chelmsford goal.
For much of the first half the game failed to flow, nevertheless the home side's neat interchange of passes threatened on the break.This attacking play from City led to Antony Howard being booked for a lunge at Chelmsford's Ronnie Watson. Meanwhile the Dons best chance of the first half came on 34 minutes, following goalmouth pressure the ball fell to Harvey who failed to find the target shooting wide from 15 yards.
The Dons were forced to rearrange minutes later when Simon Sweeney went down with a knee injury, sadly he was carried from the pitch on a stretcher, and was replaced by Dave Sargent.
The game appeared to be drifting towards half time, when it was turned on its head in a two minute spell. In the 41st minute City's Craig Edwards broke into the box, his goalbound effort was parried by keeper Little, however the Chelmsford striker reacted fastest heading into an empty net .
The Dons were trailing, but worse was to follow as within a minute they were reduced to ten men. Steve Butler who was rather fortunate to avoid an early booking for a reckless challenge, as shown the red card by referee Mr Mason for a bad challenge on City's Alex Fiddes.
The half drew to a close with a midfield melee involving a large number of players from both sides, the result of which was a yellow card for Dons Plummer. The Dons faced an uphill challenge in the second half, but they set about the task with renewed vigour.
The ten men took the game to the home side and with Barry Moore tirelessly covering oceans of space in midfield, the Dons launched a series of counter-attacks. With Sonny Farr replacing Harvey on the left, AFC Wimbledon were unfortunate not to equalise on 71 minutes when both Farr and Shane Smeltz had goalbound efforts charged down. The Dons continued to press and Plummer found space on the right and laid the ball back into the path of Smeltz, but the New Zealander fired wide.
With minutes ticking away AFC Wimbledon naturally threw more players forward to search of the equaliser., and consequentally were vulnerable to the counter attack. On 79 minutes Little kept the Dons in the game making a fine save from a header by Richard Halle.
With only minutes remaining Mr Mason reduced the Dons to nine men, Howard tangled with a Chelmsford striker, and the referee adjudged that the Dons defender was guily of holding his opponent. As Howard, who had been impressive in the heart of the Dons defence, left the pitch following his second yellow card., Wimbledon's hopes of a late point finally evaporated along with the Essex sunshine.