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AFC Wimbledon 2 Watford 1 (23/07/2011) 23/07/2011

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from the first defeat of pre-season.  Oh, and apologies for the erroneously published season preview earlier in the week, which was around long enough to propagate itself all over News Now and then had to be withdrawn.  I have no excuse but my incompetence.  The finished article will start to emerge next weekend, assuming I get my finger out between now and then.  Where were we?

1- First off, isn’t it nice to be here?  A number of us have been to Kingsmeadow before of course;  some of us even came here without seeing a game of football.  The club bar pre-match is as relaxed and convivial now as it was then, even if I don’t remember a queue for season tickets stretching out the door on that occasion. I’m conscious that plenty of people never got the whole Wimbledon thing… for me it’s always been something to defend passionately.  Sometimes aggressively.  No aggression here though, no debate, that’s long gone. This is just a bunch of people getting on with supporting their football club, a football club that has elevated itself to League status in only nine years.  An awesome achievement.  So, yes, it’s nice to be here in any circumstances but particularly those. ig has a banner with him to welcome our hosts back to the Football League,  and we’re standing on a mixed terrace, lounging in that relaxed pre-season kind of way and enjoying the welcome dryness of the day, renewing acquaintances missed over the summer.  Life is pretty good.

2-  Oh look, a game of football.  There’s a fair number of people who just don’t “do” pre-season friendlies.  ig would normally be one, but this game is a little different of course.  My Dad is another.  John Eustace, it seems safe to conclude, is another.  Nothing laid-back or half-arsed about this performance, nor of the bollocking that Aidy Mariappa receives at one point for one of several pieces of slightly dozy defending.  Nor the snarling, snapping around midfield, or the deflected drive that gives us a deserved lead after about a quarter of an hour.  I’m on the phone to my five year old daughter at the time… “where are you Daddy?”.  “At the football”.  “Can you sing a song then Daddy, say WATFOOORD”.  Big cheer.  “What happened Daddy?  What happened Daddy?”.  Next season, she’s coming to this fixture.

3- Watford dominate early on, and look like adding to Eustace’s goal.  Central to this Chris Iwelumo, who is a monster… Wimbledon haven’t got an answer, and it feels as if there are more goals coming.  But they don’t and a big factor in that is Iwelumo coming off with what must be a knock close to the half hour.  Iwelumo’s recruitment always felt like a good one to me, ticking a lot of boxes that needed ticking – experience, physical presence, aerial ability.  A concern expressed by those less convinced is the natural tendency of a side fielding a big target man to go long too often, a lazy option or a Plan A that subsumes all others.  Rather worryingly, our attacking play loses all its shape when the big man goes off;  the ball doesn’t start to stick up front again until the last ten minutes of the game, and although we carve the occasional chance it’s odd that even at this early stage we seem so dependent on the target man’s presence.  Encouragingly, he seems to be moving fine as he strolls past us to the changing room;  the blokes giving him gentle stick at the end of the terrace either brave or rather stupid.

4- Of the other new boys, rather a mixed bag.  With Prince Buaben, it was difficult, from the far end of the pitch, to see a black no 8 dancing around with the ball and cherishing possession, and not think of Micah Hyde… he looked tidy, we’ll see more of him when he’s fit.  Forsyth came off the bench and worked hard, plenty to like there even if he does look like a twelve year old (albeit a rather lanky one).  Only Yeates disappointed, then, barely having a touch of consequence in the final third and only really noticed when rolling around on the turf.

5- The view of Dons fans, and of those with some insight, is that staying up would more than do this season.  Without any in-depth knowledge of the fourth division and despite taking into consideration that, with a League Cup qualifying tie against Crawley in under a week the Dons should be as good as match fit, they didn’t look like a side destined to struggle to me.  Their keeper looked very decent, the obligatory big ugly centrebacks dealt with most of what we threw at them pretty comfortably (albeit Iwelumo caused problems early on), and the side moves the ball about well. They probably deserved this victory, and look well equipped.   If they make a go of it this season, you won’t find us complaining.


1. wgimenes - 23/07/2011

Nice article, mate.

Thanks for your kind words.

Now let’s hope we both have good seasons ahead of us.

Dog - 24/07/2011

Brazilian Don! I need you back at JA my man! Dog from ES! Good victory and well done. Don’t get over excited though as the league will be a lot harder but you should be fine.

2. wombleSTU - 23/07/2011

Lovely write up mate..was a nice day all round for us (dons) .

3. Jellicoe - 23/07/2011

Kind views and kind words to Wimbledon, appreciated by AFC fans. We wish Watford very best in the new season and another friendly with us in a year time before you start your Premiership season!

4. Esp - 24/07/2011

Great article Matt and proof that the BSaD tentacles spread wide – I wonder how many future match reports will attract so many opposition fans’ replies? What a lovely bunch… and a 4 sided ground to boot!

5. Nick - 24/07/2011

Great time yesterday with the wimbledon fans. I’m sure I’ll be back to kingsmeadow this season when watford aren’t at home. The 131 runs right past my house.

forsyth was my pick of the new boys yesterday and massie looked sharp when he came on.

6. Scully - 24/07/2011

Good chosen words and what a delight to see them back! As for us, we never got going after the big man went off. Early days yet.
A deserved victory for the Dons and good strikes to boot!

7. graham walker - 25/07/2011

…………. and a nice article in the Independent yesterday (Sunday). Glad y’all made it. That afternoon at Eastlands will remain with me for a long time to come.


8. Tops - 25/07/2011


If the 131 goes right past your house, how’s about taking in the odd Kingstonian game as well?

I’m delighted to see AFCW doing so well, and fully support their project…but as a Kingston based Hornet I do wish more locals in the area would watch their actual local team every now and then, rather than pitching up to watch Wimbledon play in Kingston…

9. NickB - 26/07/2011

Whilst we’re on this, thanks to the AFC fans who made a couple of Hornets welcome for the play off game screening and were taken aback when our celebrations at the end comfortably matched their own!

10. Nick - 26/07/2011

Tops, The 131 runs through Wimbledon (where my house is).

Like most real football fans (ie not wanky armchair Premier league fans) I feel some love for Wimbledon because of the way they were treated but not being originally from the area I have no affinity with Kingstonian.

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