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AFC Wimbledon 6 - 1 Wealdstone
The Stones were completely outclassed and outfought in this Ryman League encounter at Kingsmeadow on Tuesday night in front of 2,254 spectators. Taking into account the positions of both sides, this was always going to be a difficult match for the Stones particularly with key players, midfielder Ryan Ashe and defender, Carl Martin, missing through injury and right-back Robert Rice being re-called by Wycombe Wanderers after Saturday's game against Chelmsford. Stones manager, Gordon Bartlett, put Karl Yelland in at right-back with Jon Nichols coming into midfield. Yelland has only made three first team appearances previously in cup competitions, this being his league debut. Bartlett also decided to pair on-loan signing from Watford, Liam Henderson up-front with Stephen Hughes leaving top goalscorer, Peter Dean on the substitutes bench.
The first fifteen minutes of the match was quite low key but on 17 minutes, the match was turned completely upside down when catastrophic defending between goalkeeper, Keita Karamoko and defender, James Gray allowed the Dons to take the lead. The home side's attacking play had broken down and with the ball just outside the box Gray appeared to hesitate thinking the advancing Karamoko was going to stride forward and hack the ball away, unfortunately the keeper stopped his advance and as both players looked at each other the alert Luis Cumbers nipped in between the statuesque Stones players and calmly slotted the ball into the gapping net.
Stones nearly got back in to the game some 10 minutes later when some nice interchange play between Henderson and Hughes saw the latter unleash a blistering left-footed shot from outside the penalty area that beat the Dons keeper and clipped the right-hand post and behind for a goal kick. This proved to be the only real chance that Stones created in the first half and could have gone further behind on 32 minutes, when AFC Dons striker, Anthony Finn shot over the bar when well placed, the hosts did move further ahead on 37th minute, Lee Chappell was faced with a one-on one situation with the AFC Dons No 7 Steve Ferguson and despite making a crunching tackle the ball broke kindly for Ferguson who got away his shot which clipped Chappell on its way past the despairing dive of Karamoko into the right hand side netting before nestling into the corner of the net. Stones were having no luck going forward, Liam Henderson who had a frustrating evening with very little service was cautioned a minute before half time when he handled the ball from a left wing cross, with half time approaching Stones could have gone in further behind when the defence was cut open and the ball chipped over the advancing Karamoko but the AFC Dons player was unable to turn the ball into the goal and it drifted out for a goal-kick.
The Stones tried to start the second half positively, Henderson worked a space and got a shot away but the ball went past the right-hand post. However the hosts went into a 3-0 lead on 55 minutes when Daniel Webb, was allowed to hit a shot that take a bobble deceiving the diving Karamoko into the net. The fourth goal arrived on 57 minutes, AFC Dons striker, Finn collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area and hit an excellent left-foot shot into the net. The Dons were in complete control, Stones being overrun in midfield and it was no surprise when the hosts went 5 up when Robert Quinn & Stones Elliot Bennett challenged for the ball from a corner with the Stones player making contact with the ball sending his header past a startled Karamoko. On 76 minutes, AFC Dons Mark De Bolla who had just come on as a substitute was given too much room on the right and he hit an excellent right-foot shot into the corner of the net to make it 6-0.
With the game heading towards the final whistle Stones scored a consolation goal in the 90th minute when Dons keeper, James Pullen's attempted clearance from AFC Dons MoM No2 back-pass hit the same player with the ball falling into the path of substitute Dean Papali who calmly slotted the ball into an empty net to score for his first league goal of the season.
This with Saturday's game home game against Chelmsford were always going to be difficult in terms of points return, prior to the game last night Stones manager, Gordon Bartlett felt that six wins from the remaining league matches should be enough to save the club from relegation. Lets hope that lessons can be learned from the performance and results from these 2 games and that the team preparation and focus is aimed at gaining sufficient points from the remaining 14 remaining league matches.
Karamoko, Yelland, Chappell, Gray, Bennett, Nichols, Delisser (Sub 71; Dean), O'Leary (Sub: 69; Gross), Henderson, Hughes, Montgomery (Sub; 75 Dean Papali).