For the second time in 8 days, I’ve taken on a reporting role for SW19′s Army to bring you Seeds 1 Saplings 0. Just over a year on from our first game it was time to take stock of our progress, and an unlucky 1-0 reverse against an in-form Sutton first team is a huge step forward from last season’s mauling by their reserves/trialists. Rumoured Dons target Andy Iga was in goal for Sutton, raising the prospect of another “Cooper-esque” raid on United’s ranks.
Terry Eames fielded what appears to be close to his first choice team, with only Cooper (not fully fit) and Bolger (surprise break in Ireland) missing out. After an impeccably observed minutes silence for Ray Harford (RIP, one of the Dons unsung heroes), the game started very slowly with only a Sutton shot that rattled the bar and a 30 yarder from Sidwell that was comfortably saved enlivening the first 20 minutes.
As at Newport, the game was played in a competitive spirit and sure enough, after 30 minutes the most impressive massed brawl I’ve seen for a while was kicked off by a typically robust Bassey challenge. He slid in from the side of the Sutton number 6 and took the ball cleanly a split second before wiping out his standing leg and throwing him 4 feet in the air – I’m not sure if it actually was a foul, but must have hurt. As players from both sides rushed to the scene, the number 6 jumped up and lamped Danny (I think) and all hell broke loose for a few seconds.
Once things calmed a little, the ref asked both Daly of Sutton and Daly of AFCW to leave the field and restarted the game once subs were on to take things back to 11 a side. There was still time for Iga to miss a cross, handing a chance to Quinn who scuffed the shot, before half-time came.
The second half started with several Dons subs on the pitch, and a 15 minute purple patch (capped with Dobo Jnr missing with a free-header from 6 yards) saw AFCW look by far the better team. Once Joe went off, Sutton came back into the game and a poor back header from Roger Joseph let a Sutton striker clip in for 1-0. Cooper came on with 15 minutes to go, but despite pressure no real chances were created and the game petered out in the heat. Given that Sutton are a strong team from 2 Divisions above us, it was a very good performance and no one played badly – we only showed our CCL pedigree with a couple of defensive lapses. Good showings from Merry (I’d take him in front of Iga on today’s form), Gibson, Favata (my MotM), Sheerin, Sully (particularly on the right) and Grey mean that we should go into the season in great shape.
And now it’s on with the show …
Plus points: It was sunny, we looked good enough to play in the Rymans Premier and can still take over 1000 to a local friendly. The team is still improving and the tough pre-season schedule should see us retaining our fitness edge over the rest of the CCL.
Minus points: It was even f***ing hotter than Newport, Sean and Danny still can’t seem to stay out of any argy-bargy and we lost.
Quotes: (1) “F**k it !!” – your reporter on the M25 when he remembered that the digital camera was still in Chalfont. Sorry for the “text only” nature of this report. (2) “Whatever you have on you” – Moleking on being asked the price of his latest publication; who says that AFC supporters are being fleeced ! (3) Overheard conversation at half time: “have they announced the crowd yet?” – “I don’t think so as I haven’t heard my name yet”. The PA man had enough trouble with the teams to suggest that if he read 1504 names we would still be there now …
The referee’s a …….. : bit wet. Should have taken a stronger line with a couple of earlier challenges to prevent the brawl from happening, and it seemed a little random that it was Sean who got removed – although I didn’t have the best view. Fairly anonymous other than that so probably not too bad.
Them: Will always appreciate their invitation for us to play our first game there last July. Could have stocked up a bit better as all the tea bars seemed to run out of cold drinks before half-time, but I will certainly look forward to coming back again next year if we repeat the fixture again.
Truth is stranger than fiction: The FA Amateur Cap was left in Preston because someone dropped it and it needs repairing. Even Tony Adams dropped Steve Morrow rather than the Cup, so God knows how that happened. Still, it gave me the chance to see the Jules Rimet trophy for the first time – the replica given to England in 1966 rather than the real one that was stolen in Brazil in the 80′s and (allegedly) melted down to make it easier to sell.
Chants would be a fine thing: A welcome return to a lusty chorus of “Franchise are losing”; shame it didn’t last. Crowd was quite vocal in the Securicor Terrace in the first half, but things died down later on as the Dons fans dispersed around the ground and the heat took its toll.
Franchise FC watch: I didn’t but REPD did – expect a report from Sellout from the main man anytime soon. [SW19 - check WISA website when Ronan recovers from his hangover]
Point to ponder: Would it be worth playing someone a division or two below us pre-season next year just to help remind everyone how to score?
Anything else? It was hot. Damn hot.
So, was it worth it? I expect it was for Terry as Gibson may have played his way into the troublesome right-back spot and everyone else played pretty well too. A nice afternoon out but I can’t wait for the real competitive games to start – I’m even looking forward to going to Feltham.
In a nutshell: Did I mention that it was f**king hot?