Tuesday 13 November 2007
Away to Tonbridge Angels. KO: 19.45, Ryman League, Premier Division
| Tonbridge Angels
Jon Main (58)
Richard Harris (66)
|| AFC Wimbledon
John Beales (27)og
Mark De Bolla (33)
60 Scott Kinch
25 Richard Harris
(sub 46) Scott Gooding
(sub 31) Fraser Logan
(sub 31) James Donovan
(sub 46) Matt Newman
|Corrin Brooks-Meade (sub 63)
Mark De Bolla
Anthony Finn (sub 70)
Ben Symons (sub 63)
Reggie Savage (sub 70)
In a game that should have been wrapped up early, and then could easily have been lost at the end, the Dons came away from the Longmead Stadium with a point.
Wimbledon fielded a team with only one change from that which beat Hornchurch, with on-loan goalkeeper Corrin Brooks-Meade stepping in for the long-term injured Andy Little. Manager Terry Brown had decided that he really should have specialist goalkeeping cover on the bench, so Ben Symon was added to the bench with Chris Hussey losing out.
The Dons started very strongly, with good chances early in the game created by some swift inter-passing and excellent movement off the ball. First De Bolla broke free on the right and fired a strong shot-cum-cross that cleared the far post with no-one able to get on the end of it. Then Leberl hit a curling shot that might have sneaked in the top corner but for an excellent tip away by Tonbridge ‘keeper Matt Reed.
And then the Dons struck. Garrard swept in a strong, curling low cross that was just out of the reach of the goalkeeper and, truth be told, probably out of reach of Webb as well. But centre-back Beales can’t have known this as he threw himself at the ball and scored a diving header past his forlorn goalkeeper.
Worse was to follow for Tonbridge as Mark De Bolla hit a strong free kick from the left wing, aimed at the far post. No Wimbledon player made a run towards it and this fooled Reed who watched it go across him and nestle in the side netting at his left hand post.
While the Dons were not firing on all cylinders they were still looking comfortable, although there were signs of a possible Tonbridge revival when Main broke clear and hit a left foot shot which Brooks-Meade caught, making it look much easier than it was.
Ferguson missed a great chance to kill the game stone dead when, late in the first half, he beat the full back, cut back onto his right foot and hit a shot aimed to curl in at the far post – but it missed by half a yard.
The second half was a different story. Wimbledon began as turgidly as they had finished the first half, with Finn looking unusually out of sorts. It was no surprise when he was subbed mid-way through the half. By then, the teams were equal. First Main ran on to a through ball which had skimmed off Haswell’s head and got enough of a touch to make the ball break off Brooks-Meade as he rushed out. It went off to a narrow angle but Main got there first and took his chance superbly. 2-1.
With the Dons looking rather fragile and the midfield looking heavy-legged, it was suddenly all Tonbridge. And then came the turning point of the game. Brooks-Meade collected a through ball near the by-line and was fouled by Kinch, who collected a yellow card for his late challenge. The goalkeeper played on for a minute or two but was clearly struggling and was forced off. On came Symon to make his debut, Wimbledon’s fourth goalkeeper in 150 minutes of football. He was immediately in action, attacking and collecting a through ball very well, only to drop it and scramble to recover.
This shaky start affected his confidence and this spread to the rest of the team. Suddenly the Dons were losing aerial challenges which they had previously won easily and so the Tonbridge corners looked ominous. It was from one of these that they equalised, as the ball cleared the far post but was returned though a forest of legs and into the net by Harris.
Dons fans held their breath as more corners were taken and cleared – barely as, in one case, a header hit the post – and Main started to find space and give the defence a very hard time. Robbing Howard as he sought to watch a ball out for a goal kick, he weaved his way into the area for a clear shooting opportunity until Haswell’s crashing block tackle saved the day.
With that behind them, the Dons started to attack again and De Bolla looked to have won the game when he had a chance identical to Ferguson’s in the first half. He tried the same shot and missed by the same margin.
In the end, it was probably a fair result to one of the most exciting, if not high quality, games we will see all season. Following the final whistle, Main agreed terms with Wimbledon and the fans will look forward to seeing him maintaining his extraordinary goalscoring record for the Dons as opposed to against us.
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