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Tuesday 07 February 2006
Ryman League, Premier Division

AFC Wimbledon    1 - 1    Braintree Town
Steve Butler (90)
  (90) Paul Lorraine
 Andy Little 1 Danny Gay 
(sub 67)  Michael Woolner 2 Steve Good (sub 77) 
 Dave Sargent 3 Mark Jones ( 57) 
( 24)  Wes Daly 4 Ollie Adedeji 
( 32)  Steve Butler 5 Paul Lorraine 
 Wayne Finnie 6 Bradley Quinton 
 Dean Brennan 7 Matti Joseph 
 Chris Gell 8 Andy Porter 
 Richard Butler 9 Eugene Ofori (sub 71) 
(sub 73)  Liam George 10 Alex Ravell (Capt) 
 Michael Harvey 11 Lewis Riddle (sub 89) 
(sub 67)  Simon Sobihy 12 James Baker (sub 71) 
 Danny Wheeler 13 Carl Griffiths 
(sub 73)  Shane Smeltz 14 Steve Parmenter 
 Barry Moore 15 Robbie Martin (sub 77) 
 Joe Paris 16 Jermaine Hunter (sub 89) 

Match report

A cold clear night set the scene as the league leaders came to Kingsmeadow hoping to maintain their impressive run of form against play-off chasing Wimbledon.

The Dons set their stall out early and applied pressure on the Braintree defence, winning two corners, and asking the league leader's defence a few questions. This set the Irons up for a swift counter attack that allowed Alex Revell to accelerate past a Wimbledon defence caught high in their own half. Racing past Butler and Finnie allowed him a one-on-one with the Dons shot-stopper, only for Andy Little to dive bravely at the advancing striker and smother the ball safely.

Braintree played classic counter-attacking football, soaking up the Dons pressure and utilising the space to attack quickly after winning possession.

The Dons still flowed forward and a free kick on the edge of the Braintree penalty area was the reward for an attack crafted by Richard Butler, Liam George and Dean Brennan. A 25 yard effort yielded scant reward for Wes Daly as the ball sailed over the bar.

The Dons, feverish for the opening goal, bombarded the opposition's goal with a series of crosses, from the impressive Brennan, and applied constant pressure, rarely allowing the Irons out of their own half.

Richard Butler in midair controlWave after wave of attacks ensued as the Dons harried down the Kingsmeadow turf, using width and pace to open Braintree up. Richard Butler caused havoc playing with his back to goal, peeled away from two markers before being brought down; Daly sought revenge and fouled Andy Porter. A yellow card was given and there could be little argument.

The break in play saw Wimbledon lose their focus somewhat and allow the league leaders to press in search of a goal. Ofori proved a thorn in the home side's defence, forcing a series of throw-ins and free kicks. Braintree beat the offside trap and crossed in from the right, Little stood tall under pressure from the two Irons' forwards and clasped the ball from the air.

As the rest of the half played out, chances were few and far between for either side, and the 0-0 score-line was a fair reflection of an even first period.

After half time, the teams emerged from the tunnel unchanged; it was the visitors who started the brighter. The Irons exploited space and forced Steve Butler to make a series of upfield clearances. A free kick awarded 30 yards outside of the home side's area saw a fizzing shot embraced by the monolith Andy Little.

Wimbledon buckled into life and matched Braintree man for man, exerting pressure on their back four and forcing a series of corners and throw-ins. Akin to the first half, the Irons swept up the pitch in a quick counter attack that left Little stranded and forced to clear the ball to safely with the unorthodox method of his head.

End-to-end, the game was played out at lightning speed, almost in fast forward. Micky Woolner gathered the ball on the right flank and raced up the wing, only to be upended by Mark Jones on the hour mark, halting yet another Wimbledon attack.

Braintree showed the reason why they are topping the Premier, and clever link-play between Revell and Ofori allowed the visitor's captain a shot at the Wimbledon goal from eight yards out. Little threw his 6 foot frame into the shot and forced the ball out for a corner with his legs.

Richard Butler headed the Dons attack; not once, but twice the pacy striker turned his marker inside out, passed the ball through his legs, and charged towards the visitors' goal. The Dons hit-man was upended and the resulting free kick, a good 35 yards out of goal, was hit into the melting pot of the six yard box, fizzing past both Wimbledon and Braintree players for a goal kick.

Woolner, holding out attacks on the right side of the pitch, fell victim to a reckless challenge, and was forced off with an injury to his shoulder. Simon Sobihy was brought on in replacement for the recently returned loanee, forcing the Wimbledon back four to shuffle to accommodate the change.

Braintree, sniffing the potential to capitalise on the Dons misfortune, replaced Ofori with the fresh legs of James Baker. The league leaders continued to force pressure on the home side, and the Dons found themselves pinned in their own half.

Dave Anderson made his first tactical switch soon after and replaced Liam George with New Zealand international Shane Smeltz, hoping to add some creativity to the Dons' second half assault. Smeltz made himself known instantly and drove the ball down the right flank, allowing Wimbledon to venture into the visitors' half.

Sibohy, placed in the heart of the defence, made his presence felt, extinguishing the Braintree attacks calmly and effectively. Lewis Riddle asserted himself and directed the pace of the game, jinking and tormenting the Wimbledon right side, in the final 10 minutes, but found himself substituted for Jermaine Hunter.

Braintree forced a corner in the final minutes of normal time, and the Dons, exposing the flaw which has been apparent in many games this league campaign, gifted the opposition a goal which looked to have given the leaders all three points. Paul Lorraine rose highest and glanced a corner into the back of the net to the delight of the travelling fans.

The Dons huffed and puffed to salvage something from the game, but the league leaders shut up shop. Wes Daly pressed forward and crafted an opportunity for Wimbledon, crossing a tricky ball into the Irons' defence. Harvey miscues and the ball rebounded out to Smeltz who blasted the ball over the bar and the Tempest End roof.

Breaks in play during the second half forced a lengthy spell of injury time. As the visitors put 10 men behind the ball, the Dons pursued an equaliser, which looked to be in vain, until a free kick from Brennan, the reward for a foul on Richard Butler, on the edge of the Braintree area. The midfielder struck for goal and forced Danny Gay to parry the ball to the feet of the other Butler, Steve, the Dons' captain, who hammered the ball into the back of the net from a tight angle, sending the the majority of the 2,615 crowd into raptures.

The game restarted and the referee blew for full time. A point from the leaders in a tricky and tight game was a fair result for two hard working sides. Andy Little was awarded with the MoTM award in recognition of his brave display between the sticks and keeping the Braintree attack at bay.

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