AFC Wimbledon 4 - 0 Farnham Town
Last season?s 0-0 draw with Farnham was the last occasion that the Dons failed to score or win at home. It was also the last time that Farnham failed to lose away. A game best forgotten will always be remembered for the dropping of two very costly points. Whenever Dons fans think about last season, that most frustrating of afternoons is always one of the first things that pops into their heads.
Thankfully, that miserable March day is now a distant memory after this 4-1 victory maintained AFC Wimbledon?s 100 per cent start to the season. Eight games, eight wins, 31 goals, 12 in six by Kevin Cooper, nine by Joe Sheerin. It just keeps getting better, but this was a matter of patience over style, something that probably would have been elusive for last season?s squad. What Terry Eames has added this season is undoubtedly skill, in the form of Seb Favata, Ryan Gray, Steve Gibson and Darren Dobinson, and reliability in the shape of Jamie Angell, but the greatest addition to the squad has been patience. I think I said that after Tuesday?s grinding down of Frimley Green. I have no qualms about repeating it now.
Farnham?s "stall" had been "set out" "early doors" when they somehow managed to turn a 3-5-2 formation into a mainly defensive line-up, with the intention of catching the Dons on the break, but for the first 15 minutes they could barely haul themselves out of their own half. The Dons picked up where they left off on Tuesday, with the influential Favata biding his time before picking out passes to Gray, Dobinson, Sullivan and Gibson at will. From one of the resulting crosses Joe Sheerin headed straight at McArthur but most of them were slightly over-hit or failed to pick out their intended target. With 14 minutes on the clock the Dons got the break they were looking for, when Cooper slotted home after great work down the left by Dobinson. Cooper had earlier shot just over the bar after being set up beautifully by Sheerin.
Less than a minute after taking the lead, Annetts had a chance to equalise when the returning Ray Merry and Dobinson forgot to tell each other how they planned to deal with a harmless through-ball, but fortunately the lanky striker could only shoot in to the side-netting.
Sheerin?s day was to be short and sweet. Just before the half-hour he seemed to get a knee in the hip when flicking on a Merry clearance and lay motionless on the turf for a couple of minutes. After treatment, he hobbled to his feet and promptly scored his ninth goal of the season after good work by Cooper and Gray, his 18-yard effort deflecting in off Haskell. Sheerin stayed on for just long enough to set up Gibson with a pass of Premiership quality but the fullback fired his shot straight at McArthur. Sheerin departed and was replaced by Leon White, who within two minutes had seen his sharp volley saved well by McArthur. What is it about the visiting keepers at Kingsmeadow this season?
Just when we thought it was safe to assume we?d go in at the break with a two-goal advantage, Annetts halved it. Controlling a long ball into the box on his chest, he flicked it over Gibson and lofted a wonderful volley over Merry?s head and into the far corner of the net. Sheerin?s injury had meant that there was enough time left for Cooper to have another effort well saved by the more than competent Farnham keeper
Whatever it was that AFC Wimbledon drunk at half-time seemed to have had sedative effects. First Merry dropped a simple cross and he was then rounded by Annetts whose goal-bound effort was cleared by Dobinson. For the best part of half an hour, the Dons just couldn?t find any kind of gear to try and pull away from Farnham, who were surprisingly spritely in attack, considering they had only managed to beat Withdean so far this season. If another goal was going to come, it looked likely to come from the visitors and Annetts was causing problems for Jamie Angell and he even managed to outpace Gibson before shooting over. The Dons couldn?t find a way past Farnham?s three solid-looking central defenders however hard they tried and probed, but every time Farnham came within 30 yards of the Dons goal they looked dangerous. The once again below par Bolger decided to take matters into his own hands and his 30 yard rasping drive crashed back off the bar, and White was doing his best to hold the ball up to play others in but often had too long to wait and the chance was lost. White had a couple of attempts on goal but shot weakly both times, and Gray had a half-chance that flashed just wide.
This is where the Dons perseverance and patience came into play. Perhaps last season they would have started hoofing high balls into the box and shooting from distance, but driven on by Favata?s tireless prompting, the third goal finally came with 15 minutes left. Danny Oakins flicked a Gray corner on and Cooper got the final touch to beat McArthur at the near post. Two minutes later the visitors were reduced to 10 men after right wing back Ripley?s horrible tackle on Gray sparked a 30 man ?bundle?. Members of the Dons coaching stuff hared off down the touchline to stop the incident escalating, but that merely escalated the incident and Dobinson emerged nursing his jaw. Ripley was shown the red card, but was defended by his manager who was quick to point out that he was "only 17." Fine. He?s 17 and he?s nearly broken Ryan Gray?s leg. He still had to go. Of course the referee Mr Witney had to emerge from the disturbance with the home crowd and both benches talking about him. He awarded Farnham a throw, meaning, presumably, that Ripley wasn?t sent off for the knee high shocker, but for throwing a punch.
Cooper had a chance to complete his second hat-trick in a week when Sullivan sent him clear but his attempt to chip the keeper bounced twice before it reached him, but the Dons? top scorer wasn?t to be denied. Having spent part of the week in Sheffield watching his mate MC Harvey in Channel 4?s The Games (I flicked to C4 on Thursday to watch Sex And The City and thought I?d stumbled into a parallel universe as I saw So Solid Crew?s Harvey playing Bobby Davro at curling and then the even more surprising sight of Coops in the audience), he finished his week by firing home one of his trademark daisy-cutter free-kicks around the wall and into the corner of the net for his 12th goal of the season. Eight goals in a week, 12 in six games. 53 in 56 games in AFC Dons colours. Kevin Cooper, man of the match.