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Saturday 22 April 2006
Ryman League, Premier Division

Hendon    0 - 1    AFC Wimbledon
    (59) Richard Butler
 Rikki Banks 1 Andy Little 
 Andy Cook 2 Luke Garrard 
(sub 81)  Danny Murphy 3 Dave Sargent 
 James Burgess 4 Wayne Finnie 
 Mark Cooper 5 Michael Woolner 
( 60)  Marc Leach 6 Antony Howard 
 Dave Hunt 7 Robert Ursell 
 Charlie Mapes 8 Scott Curley ( 44) 
(sub 63)  Ross Pickett 9 Paul Barnes 
(sub 63)  Blaise O'Brien 10 Tony Battersby 
 Jamie Busby 11 Richard Butler ( 35) (sub 82) 
(sub 63)  Daniel Edwards 12 Chris Gell 
  13 Josh Lennie 
 Rene Street 14 Dean Brennan (sub 82) 
(sub 81)  Jimmy Froud 15 Freddie Myers 
 Dave King 16 Joe Paris 
(sub 63)  Ricci Crace 17  

Match report

Following back to back wins against East Thurrock United and Walton & Hersham, AFC Wimbledon travelled to Hendon looking for the result that would cement their place in the Ryman Premier league play-offs. To add spice to the occassion, Hendon were battling for their lives at the other end of the table and the game was expected to be the last fixture played at Hendon's Claremont Road ground.

Dave Anderson was once again forced to reshuffle his side, with injures and suspensions leaving him with seven players ruled out. Simon Sweeney, Wes Daly, Simon Sobihy and Steve Butler were already ruled out for the season, while Shane Smeltz and Dwayne Plummer began three match suspensions. In addition, Chris Gell was named on the bench only after Steve Tyson broke down en route to the game, and Dean Brennan was not deemed match fit following his groin injury.

Nevertheless, Dave Anderson put out an attacking side, with Woolner coming in at full-back to allow Wayne Finnie to take Sobihy's role in central defence. Rob Ursell returned to the midfield in place of Plummer, with Richard Butler starting his first game back after injury in place of Smeltz as the Dons started out in a 4-3-3 formation.

And the Dons continued where they left off against Walton - taking the game to their opposition. With Rob Ursell showing his trademark touches early on, Barnes was the main beneficiary, beating the backline for pace time after time. Butler was also having fun up against former Don Mark Cooper, while Battersby was providing the perfect target for long balls out of defence. Meanwhile, Garrard and Curley were gaining the upperhand in midfield, and the back four were giving the Hendon frontline little change. However, the Dons had nothing to show for it other than a few near misses when a moment of madness turned the game on its head. Curley, so impressive up until then, lashed out at his opposite number - raising his arm in retaliation for an off the ball foul to get his marching orders just on the cusp of half-time.

But whatever Dave Anderson said at half-time seemed to have the desired effect and the Dons came out for the second period still looking to take the lead, lining up in an unconventional 3-3-3 formation with Woolner pushing into the midfield. And it wasn't long before the Dons got their reward - with Butler bursting onto Paul Barnes perfectly weighted 59th minute through ball, out-muscling his trailing marker and slotting the ball away from ten yards.

The Dons played out the game as though they had eleven men, and Hendon chances were limited. As the whistle blew for full-time, the Dons could look back on a worthy win which even a sending off never really put in doubt.

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