Chipstead 0 - 3 AFC Wimbledon
That wasn?t what you?d call a run of the mill game. The 3-0 victory was fully deserved and if truth be told, Chipstead rarely worried the Dons and only occasionally did they look like scoring. Nothing unusual about that this season, but the result and the Dons performance were the only things that you could have predicted.
Despite winning the first 11 games of the season, and 10 of them by more than one goal, Terry Eames handed two players their debuts - former Chelsea youth team keeper Lee Carroll, and the slightly more high-profile Michael Harvey, replacing Darren Dobinson at left back. Harvey is better known as MC Harvey, a member of So Solid Crew, a TV presenter, fiancÚ of one of Mis-Teeq, and all round media celebrity, as likely to find his photo in Heat as the Non League Paper. Oh, forgot about that bit, he?s also a former Chelsea trainee, and joined the Dons on Thursday from Ryman Premier side Ford United. Bo'.
Chipstead had the temerity of being the CCL leaders after their 1-0 win at Merstham last week while the Dons were toiling away in the Vase at Herne Bay. Their manager said that we wouldn?t win the Vase this year. Maybe not, but they certainly won?t. How determined would the Dons be to get their top spot back? 77 seconds into the game and we could see for ourselves. Kevin Cooper turned and shot from the edge of the box, but the ball clipped the post and bounced out. Lee Sidwell raced in but his effort was weak and eventually cleared. Before Chipstead had a chance to rally, the visitors were all over them again, with Joe Sheerin and Matt Everard heading over from corners, Kevin Cooper having a shot blocked and Ryan Gray and Lee Sidwell seeing a succession of crosses cleared by the first defender.
With 16 minutes gone, the deadlock was broken. Sheerin flicked on a long ball out of defence and Gray ran on to it and hit a dipping shot over keeper Healey from the far left of the penalty area. A goal to grace the Premiership, if all Premiership keepers were 5ft 7in like Healey. There was a familiarity about the Chipstead side that added an extra ounce of gunpowder to what was already going to be an explosive afternoon. Lining up for Chipstead were former Dons Andrew Petty, who just disappeared from the club midway through last season, and Mark Nicholas, who disappeared from the defence about 20 minutes into the pre-season friendly with Luton. Lee Sidwell and Danny Oakins are former Chipstead players, and Paul Scott and Ryan Gray were returning to Whyteleafe for the first time since leaving in the summer. Scott, don?t forget, had also played one game for Chipstead this season, scoring twice in a 7-4 win over Raynes Park Vale. To make Harvey?s debut a bit more of an occasion, Gray is one of his closest friends. And my mate Peter?s son was wearing the number 10 shirt for Chipstead.
The kick off put back to 3.15 to accommodate the near 2000 travelling Dons fans, and in that time one of them was taken to hospital after being hit by a stray ball behind the goal, there was no shortage of atmosphere. The referee was going to have keep a tight rein on the game to stop it getting out of hand, but a moment of madness from Teesdale handed the Dons the chance to double their lead. Taking exception to Danny Oakins tactic of standing in front of the goalkeeper at corners, Teesdale elbowed the Dons defender in the face. The ref failed to spot it, but as the ball was cleared, Teesdale made sure the Dons were awarded a penalty when he pushed Oakins to the ground. Cooper converted the spot kick but amazingly Teesdale received no further punishment.
It did appear that the referee had forgotten to bring a red card with him when a melee on the half way line saw Mark Nicholas clearly punch Seb Favata to the ground, and just as clearly from our position behind the goal, Chips boss Stuart Massey could be seen with his hands around the prone Favata?s throat. Yellow cards for the two number sevens ? nothing at all for Nicholas. The former Dons defender had up until then been on the receiving end of some light ribbing from the crowd, but chants of "You?re just not good enough" sprung up almost immediately.
It was a day for new songs, most of them centred around Harvey?s exploits with his fellow So Solid Crew members. "We?ve got gangster rappers" and "He?s got a sawn-off in his sock" were two of the better ones, together with shouts of "Bo!" every time he had the ball. Harvey looked, well, solid at left back, bringing that extra bit of defensive know-how to the proceedings, something that Eames probably thought we needed against Chipstead. He was not to know that the league leaders would be remarkably weak in attack, minus the holidaying Micky Nolan, and lacking midfield creativity. Massey and Passley in the centre of midfield worked tirelessly but to little effect, and Petty was anonymous. Mike Berry, scorer of both Chipstead goals in their 2-1 win at Kingsmeadow in August last year, was kept quiet by the once again imperious Oakins and Everard.
The second half was pretty much the same spectacle. Chipstead attacks not worrying the Dons defence, Lee Carroll?s unpredictable kicking providing comparisons to Neil Sullivan, Favata and Bolger, still not back to his best, controlling the midfield and Sidwell and Gray helping out their full backs more than they perhaps needed to. Looking comfortable at 2-0 up, a third goal was going to finish Chipstead off. A Sheerin header was cleared off the line by Williams, a Sheerin shot found its way fortuitously to Everard but his effort went off for a throw, Oakins was coming more and more into the game as an attacking force and had a couple of cracking efforts blocked and then, from the move of the game, Harvey found himself in acres of room in the area but his shot across Healey found the inside of the post and bounced back into the keeper?s arms.
By this time, Paul Scott had replaced Cooper, and it was the former Whyteleafe man who athletically connected with a superb Gray cross to make it 3-0 and kill the game off. The only thing that could spoil the day was a needless sending off. And when a needless sending off is required you can always rely on Simon Bassey. First, he was booked for an off the ball swipe at Mike Berry and then a few minutes later became entangled with Dave "Piesy" McSherry, hands were raised, and red cards were brandished. Bassey can have no complaints. Terry Eames and his team-mates can. The players continued their disagreement as they left the pitch and climbed the steps up to the elevated changing rooms behind the goal. This was going to be Bassey?s last game before a six week ban for his red card at Pagham, but after this it?s unlikely we?ll see him again until the New Year. This, though, was not the afternoon?s last act of indiscipline. Former Sutton United captain Gwynne Berry came on with 12 minutes left, presumably to steady things up at the back for Chipstead. For the four minutes he was on the pitch he looked composed, but an amazing outburst at the referee earned him the third straight red of the afternoon. Richard Williams caught Paul Scott with a spiteful lunge to his groin, but somehow the defender got away, if you like, scot free. Berry, believing Scott to be making the most of taking a hard kick to the testicles, called the referee a "f***ing cheating c***" and that was the end of his afternoon, other than to take part in a few verbal exchanges with Dons fans as he trudged down the touchline.
In the end, the Dons saw off Chipstead?s challenge too easily for Stuart Massey?s liking, and a 12th league win in a row was never in doubt. Normal service is resumed. The Dons are back on top. Harvey?s in da house. Booyackasha. I think that?s how you spell it!
MAN OF THE MATCH: Danny Oakins again. His last action until the league cup tie against Walton Casuals on 19 November, but his last three performances have been superb. He?ll be missed, but we?ve got Jamie Angell instead. And through it all he offers us protection!