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Thursday 06 May 2004
Combined Counties League Premier Division

AFC Wimbledon    3 - 3    Reading Town
Kevin Cooper (70)
Kevin Cooper (80)
Kevin Cooper (86)
  (51) Murray
(67) Maskell
(90) Murray
 Matt Martin 1 Pratley 
 Steve Gibson 2 Webster 
 Paul Quinn 3 Russell 
(sub 60)  Lewis Taylor 4 Sharratt 
 Matt Everard 5 Hancock 
 Lee Sidwell 6 Riccio 
 Seb Favata 7 Mills 
(sub 66)  Gareth Graham 8 Hollidge (sub 75) 
 Kevin Cooper 9 Murray 
(sub 56)  Shane Small-King 10 Maskell 
 Darren Dobinson 11 unknown 
(sub 60)  Danny Oakins 12 Burton (sub 75) 
(sub 56)  Kevin Cooper 14 Abery 
(sub 66)  Ryan Gray 15 Beckley 
 Ross Standen 16 Jewell 
 Jamie Angell 17  

Match report

AFC Wimbledon 3 - Reading Town 3

With two final obstacles standing between the Dons and an unbeaten record, Nicky English made a few changes for the visit of Reading Town, themselves coming off an impressive unbeaten run. Matt Martin replaced Ross Standen in goal, because the taller keeper is unavailable for Saturday's final game, Gareth Graham deputised for the suspended Gavin Bolger, Paul Quinn stepped in at left-back with Darren Dobinson in front of him and Shane Small-King partnered Jamie Taylor .

Small-King was in on the act early in a goalless first half, heading over inside the first minute after good work from Jamie Taylor. Murray attempted a cheeky flick past Martin at the other end, but the offside flag had already been raised. With both sides seeming a little hesitant, Everard headed over from a corner and the visitors blazed a free-kick over. Hollidge then almost broke clear but elected to shoot over the bar with a man square.

From the Dons' second corner, Matt Everard had two headers blocked and Small-King fired a volley narrowly over the bar yet under the West Bank roof. Sidwell let a low shot skid towards goal, which looked easy for Pratley, but it squirmed behind for a corner out of his hands at the near post. A slip by Lewis Taylor let Murray in, but his attempt to roll the ball round Martin enabled Taylor to get back and clear. At the other end, Dobinson raced away down the left, but his low cross was hit horribly wide first time by Sidwell. Martin then held a low shot from Hancock at the second attempt.

Reading came closest to scoring, when Murray stormed forward again, beat the defence and knocked the ball out of Martin's hands as the keeper came out to claim. As Hollidge turned it goalwards, Taylor cleared it off the line.

The first chance of the second half fell to Reading as Murray fired wide at the near post after a great low cross from Maskell. Then in the best chance of the game so far, Murray inexplicably sent a free header wide in acres of space. The goal finally came for the visitors on 50 minutes, as Murray rode a tackle by Taylor and let fly, hammering past Martin at his near post. A poor clearance by Taylor from a subsequent attack then allowed Hollidge a shot, but he fired wide.

With 56 minutes gone, Nicky English brought on Kevin Cooper for Shane Small-King and soon Danny Oakins replaced Lewis Taylor. But on 66 minutes, it was 2-0 to the visitors. As a low cross wasn't cleared, Hollidge's miskick fell to Maskell, who had plenty of time and space to fire beyond a helpless Martin.

Gareth Graham went off to be replaced by Ryan Gray. Immediately, his freekick was headed at Pratley by Everard. Gray then put a great low cross in, which was cleared off Cooper's toe, but a free-kick was given for a foul from the rebound. Up stepped Cooper to fire a low shot into the far corner for 2-1 with 20 minutes remaining.

With ten minutes left, Oakins was pushed upfront as the Dons went three at the back. Cooper was tripped on the edge of the area and a free-kick was given. Despite a six man wall and everyone on the pitch knowing where it was going, Cooper stepped up and drilled it low and into the far corner for the equaliser.

Six minutes later, Ryan Gray twisted to head an Oakins long throw against the bar and Cooper pounced to stab home for a 16 minutes hat-trick and an unlikely Dons lead. Three points would have flattered the home side and justice was probably done when Reading equalised in the fifth minute of injury time. As a header cannoned off the bar from a corner, Shane Murray headed home despite Quinn's efforts on the line.
A disappointing end to a fairly flat game, but a fair one and, as the record was looking in danger with 19 to go, the chance to make Dons history against Wallingford is still alive.

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