THE Dons came into the game brimming with confidence, defending a fourteen game unbeaten league record. Their visitors,on the other hand, had suffered a midweek home defeat to lowly Cove, after which their manager "Big" Geoff Holman left the Club.
With captain Joe Sheerin passed fit to play, AFC Wimbledon went immediately on the attack forcing an early corner, however Hartley Wintney showed that they could be dangerous on the break when their striker James Peters unleashed a fierce shot that rebounded to safety off the Dons post. However this was to prove the visitors only attack of consequence during the entire game, and they were soon to fall behind.
On 17 minutes a Lee Sidwell cross from the right was met by Sheerin who slid in at the near post, the ball ricocheted about before being turned into his own goal by the Hartley defender Gary Parker.
The goal saw the last remnants of confidence and organisation disappear from the Hartley defence and from that moment on it was simply a matter of how many goals would AFC Wimbledon score.
Chances were spurned before Gavin Bolger scored the Dons second goal after 27 minutes. After an early season goal drought, the Dons midfielder is again finding his goal scoring touch. His first effort was parried by Warren Hopkins in the visitors goal, but Bolger reacted quickest to hammer the ball into the roof of the net.
There was time for Kevin Cooper to hit the post and blast another chance into the Athletics End, before the Dons struck again. This time Sheerin was the provider with a delicate back heel which set up Bolger for his second goal, drilled home from six yards.
The game's greatest talking point occured on 36 minutes. Dons Keeper, Lee Carroll, launched a long kick downfield, Cooper swung at the ball, the spin and bounce deceived Hopkins who was left desparately scrambling as the ball entered the net for AFC Wimbledon's fourth goal. While Chris Phillips announced the scorer as goalkeeper Carroll, Cooper made his way over to the press box to indicate that he had got a vital touch.
While the debate over the goalscorer continued on the terraces and in the stand, Cooper put the ball in the net with his head, but sadly for the striker he was ruled offside.
The start of the second half saw Seb Favata replaced by Noel Frankum,but it saw little respite for the Hartley defence, who conceded the fifth goal after 52 minutes when Sheerin hooked the ball in from close range.
The scoring was completed just before the hour when following a short corner, the towering figure of Matt Everard headed back across goal and there was Sheerin to head firmly into the net. With the points secure manager Terry Eames wisely replaced Bolger and Sheerin with Lewis Taylor and Paul Scott, and while the Dons failed to convert any further chances, Taylor showed enough to suggest that he could become a fixture in the first time squad for some time to come.