AFC Wimbledon 8 - Cove 0
THE champions enjoyed a triumphant homecoming with a comprehensive demolition of Cove at Kingsmeadow. Yet in all honesty the team only played in bursts. But these gave them more than enough to see off the lacklustre visitors and it was left to Kevin Cooper to put the sparkle on the night by equalling and then breaking Eddie Reynolds' all-time Dons season goalscoring record.
Nicky English shuffled his pack and produced an initial 4-3-3 formation, with Small-King behind Cooper and Jamie Taylor and Quinn, Graham and Bolger as the midfield trio.
Graham was sent through on goal in opening minutes but wasn't sharp enough to beat Dons fan and Cove keeper Adam Watts to the ball. Cove then spurned a glorious chance to go ahead, as they were awarded a penalty after Lewis Taylor was adjudged to have tripped Cooke. But Standen dived to his right to hold on to the ball for an excellent save.
From that moment on, things went downhill for Cove. Football played well is a simple game and the livewire front six carved the Cove defence apart four times in the first 45 with slick quick passing. On 15 minutes, Jamie Taylor ran on to a delightfully weighted Bolger chip and deftly lifted the ball over Watts and into the net. Five minutes later, Dobinson brought a poor clearance under control and laid it left to Jamie Talyor, who squared it for Cooper. Cooper stopped and steadied himself before curling the ball past the luckless Watts. It was three-nil on 25 minutes, when a half-cleared corner fell to Shane Small-King outside the area. He planted a header into the box for Oakins to slide onto, but the ball eluded him and bounced beyond the keeper to give SSK his third goal since joining from Wallingford.
On 36 minutes, Oakins saw one through-ball to Taylor cut out, won it back and set up Cooper who scampered clear and put the ball under Watts. It could have easily been five, but Watts did well to tip a Graham free-kick around the post.
Cove were trouble by two injuries in this period, the worse being Lewis Scott leaving the pitch with what turned out to be a broken leg following a challenge from Cooper. The Dons reverted to 4-4-2 with Quinn at left-back after the stricken Dobinson, laid low by a mystery bug, was replaced by Simon Bassey.
But the visitors came out with renewed vigour in the second half to defend stoutly and an uneventful half an hour ensued, save Angell and Favata being introduced for Everard and J Taylor respectively. It was Favata who notched the fifth on 76 minutes, connecting with Bolger's low cross and cannoning the ball into the net off the underside of the bar.
Cooper then stepped up to equal Reynolds' record with his hat-trick, collecting a knockdown from his diminutive strike partner Favata and dragging a shot back across Watts. With seven minutes remaining an Oakins header would have gone in anyway past the man on the line, but Seb Favata pounced to slide it home and eyewitness reports suggest he managed to poach it before the ball had crossed the line.
Finally, two minutes later, Small-King was crudely upended after a mazy jinking run and the referee pointed to the spot. After Bassey's wayward effort at Coney Hall, the yet-to-score Angell came forward more in hope than expectation, but Cooper was never likely to let his chance of history go begging. He stepped up and hit the penalty low to Watts' left to become the first man to hit 58 goals in a season for Wimbledon.