I really liked the way that the Wimbledon fans wouldn’t have any of that M.K. Dons malarkey and created their club anew but such warm feelings will be temporarily suspended this afternoon. I don’t know the capacity of their ground but it’s certainly on the very small side so getting in there today is going to be a problem. Just the kind of problem I like actually so I’ll be heading down there later and trying to get in somehow. If I fail, I’ll head to the nearest pub and get the game on SAFSEE. The Gills game was a joy and a wonderment but they had several headers that went only just wide so we looked a bit vulnerable in the air at times. Wimbledon have only scored twice so far this season so they don’t sound threatening upfront while we’ve got ten. Five different players have scored for us so far so we’ve got plenty of goals in our side for a change. We did very well on Wednesday without Oviedo but if he returns, it’ll be all to the good. The only time I recall seeing Wimbledon play at their ancestral home Plough Lane was back in 1979 when they took on Darlington. Their boot-boys must’ve all been about eleven years old as there were repeated high-pitched chants of, “Womble aggro! Womble aggro!” which sounded extremely unthreatening. Anyway, I fancy us to win again and my match prediction is 2-1.
I got to the ground about 2.15 and had a look in the bar, which was open to both sets of fans, but it was crammed and felt like a sauna so I went for a mosey around the ground. If all else failed, there was a spot where I could see one penalty area but I hung around the away fans entrance for a while and soon enough bumped into my ALS colleague Sobs. At 2.45 a pal of his came along and he had a spare ticket which I was very happy to snap up. It was standing room only for most of our fans and I got a decent spot near the halfway line, though my view of the far left-hand corner was occluded at times. A large blue Womble accompanied the sides as they emerged and I was pleased by this. Oviedo and McGeouch were both on the bench and I think we started with the same side we had against Gillingham. Our first-half performance was a far cry from that on Wednesday and we had difficulty coping with Wimbledon’s very tall players who were winning almost every high ball and were out-muscling us all over the park. They took the lead in the ninth minute when Pigott met a cross from the left and blasted a shot in from close range. They proceeded to win three corners on the trot and we were looking decidedly wobbly at the back. McLaughlin almost duffed a simple clearance and midway through the half Power blasted a pass back to McLaughlin which was way too strong and also miles off target thus gifting them a corner. We were hardly getting our close passing style of play going at all and were hitting too many high balls, most of which we failed to connect with. We had a decent spell five minutes or so after the half-hour mark and Power had a good shot that went just wide of the left post. We weren’t getting the rub of the green from the match officials and this was summed up by two guys next to me, one of whom said, “Linesman yer shite!” to which the other replied, “He’s not that good.” Baldwin was yellow-carded with two minutes to go and I just hoped we could make it to the break without conceding another. We did but it hadn’t been enjoyable at all and we needed to get back to our effective passing game if we were going to get a result.
As the subs warmed up during the break Ozturk took his training vest off which meant that he was coming on and he duly did, for Loovens. Whether that was because Loovens was injured or maybe Ross had decided we needed a bigger centre back, I don’t know but my heart sank. Five minutes in, Power was replaced by McGeouch and seven minutes after that Oviedo came on for James. Following those changes things finally started to look better for us as we resorted to a lot more close passing and tricksy runs down the right flank especially. In the sixty-sixth minute we equalized and it followed a corner that was taken short and then hit home form close range by none other than Catts. Before the goal was finally awarded there was a long pow-wow between the referee and his assistant down by the corner-flag but he blew that whistle, pointed to the centre-spot and sent our end into delirium. It seemed like Wimbledon’s number 4 Oshilaja was claiming a handball against one of our players. We were then in the ascendency for a while but with twenty minutes to go Wimbledon began to fight back strongly. Pigott had a great opportunity but he blasted it over from inside the box and we breathed again. There was a stoppage for two or three minutes while a Wimbledon player received treatment and when play was resumed we looked the more likely side to score. In the eighty-third minute we took the lead and it was goal-machine Cattermole who knocked it home from near the left post after great work on the right by Maguire. We continued to attack and I was hoping Maja would get his usual goal but he didn’t have many opportunities today as he was often overpowered by the Wimbledon defence and conceded a lot of free-kicks, some of them probably wrongly. That earlier injury meant there was plenty of stoppage-time and deep into it Wimbledon won a free-kick right on the edge of our box in the middle. It was blasted well over and the final whistle went. Again there was great rapport between our team and the fans before they went off.
This wasn’t pretty but we battled to get a great result, as we’ll no doubt have to do again and again throughout this season. See you at the Oxford match.