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Tuesday 26 September 2006
Ryman League, Premier Division

Ashford Town (Mx)    1 - 2    AFC Wimbledon
Gavin Smith (80)
  (84) Roscoe Dsane
(90) Steve Wales
 Tony Wells 1 Andy Little 
 Vinnie O'Sullivan 2 Luke Garrard 
 Jason Chewins 3 Michael Haswell 
 Russ Canderton 4 Scott Curley ( 18) (sub 87) 
( 36)  Steve Battams 5 Steve Butler 
(sub 59) ( 38)  Josh Hamsher 6 Antony Howard ( 60) 
( 43)  Paul Johnson 7 Robin Shroot (sub 65) 
( 90)  Jacob Mingle 8 Wes Daly ( 68) 
(sub 71)  Jon Palmer 9 Richard Butler (sub 90) 
 Scott Todd 10 Roscoe Dsane 
 Kirk Hudson 11 Steve Wales 
 Darren Deegan 12 Lee Kersey 
  13 Paul Smith 
(sub 71)  Gavin Smith 14 Darren Grieves (sub 65) 
(sub 59)  Lee Passmore 15 Wayne Finnie (sub 90) 
 Ricky Wellard 16 Simon Sobihy (sub 87) 
 Ben Lauder-Dykes 17  

  Match report

An unmarked Steve Wales receives a superb ball from Roscoe Dsane in the 93rd minute. After controlling the ball, sizing up his options and (seemingly) having a brief break for a cup of tea and a slice of cake he calmly slides the ball past a defender's despairing lunge and into the corner of the net. As the team, subs, management and fans all danced in celebration it was hard to remember the despair felt a mere 10 minutes earlier ...

After being greeted at the gate by a typically friendly member of the Ashford Town staff, the first news of note on the night was the very late withdrawl of Steve Goddard due to an injury during the warmup; Wayne Finnie stepped up to take his place on the bench. Once the referee got proceedings underway deja vu rapidly set in as the Dons started exactly how they left off against Margate on Saturday; lots of possession and pressure but no end product. Early interventions in midfield from Curley (a block tackle using an unusual part of his anatomy) and Shroot led to a couple of half chances but the first real opening fell to Curley in the 11th minute; his header from a Wales cross hitting both bar and post before somehow bouncing clear. Continued pressure led to further chances as the half progressed, the best falling to Roscoe after Steve Butler had beaten the keeper to the ball from a Haswell corner. Roscoe's shot was goal-bound but blocked on the line by a defender's 'mid-riff'. Shortly afterwards the Dons' captain set Roscoe up again but this time the striker shot just wide.

Midway through the first half Ashford made their first attack of note; Haswell made a poor back pass under pressure and Andy Little needed to swoop smartly in front of the Ashford striker to smother the ball. After a period where play was contained mainly in midfield, the Dons upped the tempo again, Curley racing 50 yards from outside his own box before being chopped down by Ashford's captain Steve Battams as he neared the Ashford area. Shortly afterwards a flowing Dons move saw a Wales cross set Roscoe up again, but this time the striker was felled in the box before he could get his shot away. Despite protests the referee was unimpressed by the penalty claim. A couple more half chances were spurned before the half finished with the Dons gaining domination but with no reward, a situation becoming typical of the season so far.

The second half started with some early Dons pressure, but Ashford upped their game and generally held their own for the first 15 minutes. They created a couple of chances to shoot from distance (one a 30 yarder blasted high enough over the bar to trouble the huge aviation fuel tank behind Little's goal) and even had the ball in the net from a quick break although the referee had blown for offside well before the finish. After Wimbledon had picked up a couple of yellow cards for rash challenges, Dave Anderson changed things around by bringing off debutant Robin Shroot (who had shown plenty of promise) for Darren Grieves and ordered an apparant shift to a 4-3-3 formation. The change almost paid off immediately when a Dons free-kick was only half cleared and Steve Butler was left one-on-one with the Ashford keeper only 12 yards out. It was unfortunate that such a good opening fell to a defender as the Dons' captain saw his header touched onto the bar by the keeper when it seemed easier to score.

Wimbledon continued to apply pressure but increasingly Ashford began to exploit the extra space and started to cause some problems on the break. The pace of the game increased with the Dons nearly getting a vital touch on a couple of enticing crosses whilst Ashford were only denied by a superb covering tackle by Wes Daly at the other end. Just as the prospect of another 0-0 draw was being debated by the Dons faithful, a quick Ashford break carved our defence apart and the substitute Gavin Smith stroked the ball past Andy Little to put the home side ahead.

A clearly shocked Dons side started to push forward even more strongly after the restart and almost immediately Wes fired over from 25 yards when well placed. 2 minutes later a further Wimbledon raid down the right saw Garrard's cross bounce up in the box and clearly strike Jason Chewins, the Ashford left back, on the arm. It looked like 'ball to hand' from my angle but Mr Evetts blew for the penalty straight away. Roscoe stepped up to take the kick and calmly placed it to the keeper's right for the equaliser. Impressively Wimbledon did not settle for the draw, but rushed back for the restart and carried on attacking the Ashford goal. As the game moved into stoppage time Roscoe made a break, dribbling past 2 defenders, and pulled a superb ball back across the goal to the waiting Steve Wales; cue bench mayhem!

After professionally seeing out the further 4 minutes of injury time found by the referee, further celebrations ensued as the Dons deservedly took the 3 points from a game that had looked increasingly like a banana skin until the last 5 minutes. Ashford could take some consolation from a record crowd of 922, but despite the away side's domination of possession would have felt hard-done by to lose after leading so late into the game. As for Wimbledon, this was a game that smelled like Team Spirit ...

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