Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dons win against FC United

Source: South London Press

Aug 6 2007

John Stanton Reports From The Cherry Red Records Fans' Stadium


AS GIGGS tore down the wing and cut inside,AFC Wimbledon fans could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching the Wimbledon of old, taking on the country's elite.

This, though, was Ryan's brother Rhodri, and the occasion was the Dons' first home pre-season friendly of the season, their annual battle with fellow fans' club FC United.

This Giggs, the spitting image of his more famous brother, was powerless to stop wave after wave of home attacks, as Wimbledon finally added a potency to their play that had previously been missing in pre-season.

The Dons have looked defensively adept throughout their friendly matches, but have lacked the creativity in the final third to really excite their demanding fans.
But the mood at the end of this encounter was one of optimism, a sense of hope engulfing the Fans' Stadium after a display in which their side pummelled the visitors with a near constant stream of attacks, testing FC United keeper Sam Ashton 16 times in total.

Having spent the summer months searching for the one man he hoped would fire his side to promotion, Terry Brown eventually chose Daniel Webb, the striker with Champions League experience.

In his home debut for the Dons, he impressed throughout and gave Brown much cause for satisfaction.

The manager admitted last week that he has no idea of his best front two for the start of the season, but the performances of Webb and strike partner Richard Jolly will have done much to help Brown make his decision.

The win was eventually secured at a canter, but in the opening stages it was FC United who looked the more composed side, pinging the ball around with confidence.

For all their neat, intricate approach play, though, they failed to trouble Andy Little in the early stages.

The Dons came closest in the first 15 minutes,with Webb and Steve Ferguson both bringing saves from Ashton, the visitors' outstanding player.

And the pressure soon told when, on 20 minutes, United captain Dave Chadwick clambered all over Jolly in the box.

Referee Ian Crouch pointed straight to the spot, but Sam Hatton's fiercely-struck effort was saved brilliantly by Ashton as he flung himself to his right.

At the other end Dave Swarbrick did manage to outfox Jake Leberl down the United right, but his shot flashed harmlessly across the face of Little's goal.

That aside,it was all Wimbledon. Hatton's effort from an acute angle was hacked off the line by Rob Nugent before, finally, after 41 minutes, the Dons scored the goal their pressure deserved.

Luke Garrard and Hatton combined well on the right, teeing up Ferguson to deliver an inviting cross for Webb, who flung himself towards the ball and directed it perfectly beyond the despairing Ashton's right hand.

Then, with 30 seconds of stoppage time already played, United's Dale Whitehead aimed a casual pass to Liam Foster, but the alert Tony Finn intercepted and raced through, before sliding the ball under the exposed Ashton.

The second half saw more of the same, though the keeper refused to be beaten.

Perhaps it will worry Brown that his side missed so many chances, but it is more likely he will be delighted by the ease with which his attacking players found themselves in scoring positions.

Webb raced clean through on goal on the hour mark, but he shot straight at the keeper, while Finn's brilliant effort a minute later was superbly tipped onto the post by Ashton, the keeper by now working overtime.

Jolly was the next to benefit from slack United defending after good work from Ferguson to rob Shaun Roscoe,but again Ashton saved his team.

The keeper then had about an eight minute breather before his next heroic stop, a full-length dive to his right to turn a fizzing Hatton 25-yarder round the post.

Eventually, the onslaught drew to a close, though not before Karl Beckford produced a piece of magic to split the United defence once more, threading a pass to Webb, but Ashton sprinted from his line to close down the imposing striker.

If Giggs had been the star name, it was the performances of the Dons players which really stole the show.