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Faramir

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February 2, 2010

Will Drabek looked up as Dave Colley entered his office. Drabek noticed the normally never rattled Colley was looking a bit frayed. "Hi Dave. What can I do for you?"

Colley visibly figited after taking a seat opposite Drabek, "Will, I know I have thanked you a thousand times over for asking me to be part of your staff- for hiring me as a coach and not a scout."

Drabek waved the compliment away, "Dave, you and Spencer have been invaluable to me in evaluating personnel. It was a good decision."

Seeing the now serious expression in Colley's face made Drabek stop.

"Will, I wanted to thank you again and ask a bit of forgiveness. I have been offered a position as a Manager," continued Colley.

"That's wonderful Dave! I think you would make a fine manager," stated Drabek with sincerity.

Colley looked closely at him, "You're not upset?"

Drabek smiled, "Orient is now to the point where other clubs are going to come calling for my staff. I knew it- it doesn't bother me to see you- or any of the others, excepting maybe Spencer, strike out for some personal success. Now which club offered you the job?"

Colley muttered, a bit embarrassed, "AFC Wimbledon."

Drabek frowned, "Dave, I'm not going to be the one to advise you on accepting positions- but you do know what you are getting into, don't you?"

Stirring in his chair Colley stated, "Yes. I do know that this would be a difficult position."

"Difficult?" Drabek snorted. "Look Dave, you know I could reccommend you for other positions. Why take one with little hope? AFC hasn't won since early December and have lost, what is it, 8 or 9 in a row now? I am not saying you aren't the Manager that can turn them around, but it will be very tough."

"Will, remember in the summer of '08- when I told you they asked me to help out on the new version of Football Manager 7? I made a lot of friends at SI when working with them. They want me to give it my best shot at saving AFC from their 2nd straight relegation from the Conference. They had made it up in 2005-6, but went back down after finishing dead last that time- they only earned 21 points in their 42 matches. When they fired Terry Eames last week, I was contacted by both AFC directly and the friends I made at SI about taking over and trying to save the club from another relegation."

Drabek nodded, "It would be listed as an noble undertaking Dave, but still- just a quick look at the table (he gestured at his laptop screen) shows AFC has only 19 points after 28 matches. They trail the 19th place club by 11 points..."

"Will, I know you don't think this is a good choice. Still I would like to accept the position- with your blessing," said Colley questioningly.

Drabek stood up and went over to Colley. He offered in handshake his tanned hand, "You have it Dave. Best of luck in this. I can't play favorites to help you out- but you do have my best wishes."

AFC Wimbledon Tabs Colley

Last placed and apparently relegation bound again, Conference side AFC Wimbledon has tabbed Dave Colley to take over and try and salvage the club's season. Colley, who has been a part of Leyton Orient Manager Will Drabek's staff since the beginning of the Orient resurgence, is a respected evaluator of personnel, but an unknown when it comes to actual club management.

***

Author's Note- This actually occurs down the road from where the story "The Bet" is at present. I couldn't resist the opportunity to try this- though if I fail to keep them up, it might be a pretty short story icon_wink.gif This will be running as a separate story from "The Bet" and I won't be intertwining them or likely even referring from one to the other after this point. It just made a good starting point for the story.

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February 2, 2010

Will Drabek looked up as Dave Colley entered his office. Drabek noticed the normally never rattled Colley was looking a bit frayed. "Hi Dave. What can I do for you?"

Colley visibly figited after taking a seat opposite Drabek, "Will, I know I have thanked you a thousand times over for asking me to be part of your staff- for hiring me as a coach and not a scout."

Drabek waved the compliment away, "Dave, you and Spencer have been invaluable to me in evaluating personnel. It was a good decision."

Seeing the now serious expression in Colley's face made Drabek stop.

"Will, I wanted to thank you again and ask a bit of forgiveness. I have been offered a position as a Manager," continued Colley.

"That's wonderful Dave! I think you would make a fine manager," stated Drabek with sincerity.

Colley looked closely at him, "You're not upset?"

Drabek smiled, "Orient is now to the point where other clubs are going to come calling for my staff. I knew it- it doesn't bother me to see you- or any of the others, excepting maybe Spencer, strike out for some personal success. Now which club offered you the job?"

Colley muttered, a bit embarrassed, "AFC Wimbledon."

Drabek frowned, "Dave, I'm not going to be the one to advise you on accepting positions- but you do know what you are getting into, don't you?"

Stirring in his chair Colley stated, "Yes. I do know that this would be a difficult position."

"Difficult?" Drabek snorted. "Look Dave, you know I could reccommend you for other positions. Why take one with little hope? AFC hasn't won since early December and have lost, what is it, 8 or 9 in a row now? I am not saying you aren't the Manager that can turn them around, but it will be very tough."

"Will, remember in the summer of '08- when I told you they asked me to help out on the new version of Football Manager 7? I made a lot of friends at SI when working with them. They want me to give it my best shot at saving AFC from their 2nd straight relegation from the Conference. They had made it up in 2005-6, but went back down after finishing dead last that time- they only earned 21 points in their 42 matches. When they fired Terry Eames last week, I was contacted by both AFC directly and the friends I made at SI about taking over and trying to save the club from another relegation."

Drabek nodded, "It would be listed as an noble undertaking Dave, but still- just a quick look at the table (he gestured at his laptop screen) shows AFC has only 19 points after 28 matches. They trail the 19th place club by 11 points..."

"Will, I know you don't think this is a good choice. Still I would like to accept the position- with your blessing," said Colley questioningly.

Drabek stood up and went over to Colley. He offered in handshake his tanned hand, "You have it Dave. Best of luck in this. I can't play favorites to help you out- but you do have my best wishes."

AFC Wimbledon Tabs Colley

Last placed and apparently relegation bound again, Conference side AFC Wimbledon has tabbed Dave Colley to take over and try and salvage the club's season. Colley, who has been a part of Leyton Orient Manager Will Drabek's staff since the beginning of the Orient resurgence, is a respected evaluator of personnel, but an unknown when it comes to actual club management.

***

Author's Note- This actually occurs down the road from where the story "The Bet" is at present. I couldn't resist the opportunity to try this- though if I fail to keep them up, it might be a pretty short story icon_wink.gif This will be running as a separate story from "The Bet" and I won't be intertwining them or likely even referring from one to the other after this point. It just made a good starting point for the story.

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Thanks Heskey- hope it isn't boring at least icon_wink.gif

***

From Dave Colley's Journal-

2009-10 AFC Wimbledon Squad (when took over in February)

Gk- James Bittner (28)- Appears solid enough to be the number 1 keeper, looks ok for Conference level- likely have to lean on him to start all the matches to the end

Gk- Paul Newton (29)- Plays position well and provides leadership, but nondescript otherwise and I don't plan on using him as other than emergency backup

D/ML- Joe Keith (31)- Looks versatile, but not really good enough at either winger or leftback to use regularly

DL- David Hewson (26)- Good at marking, but doesn't handle the ball well and likely won't fit in well with the system I want to use

DRC- Paul Liddle (21)- One of the better defenders- aware of his position- lacks strength and might fit better at rightback

DR- Craig Sives (23)- An absolute burner at Conference level, fastest player outside of Hogg- that speed alone makes him a good fit at rightback in my system- competent defender, nothing special

DC- Paul O'Donoghue (26)- Looks like our best defender in the middle- fast and tackles everything in sight, but not always aware of getting out of position in haste to make tackles

SWDRC- Dave Hunt (31)- Already signed Bosman for Moor Green- sour attitude- he is ready to be out of here and I don't plan on using him much

D/DMC- Ian Jennings (20)- Promising young player, might fit better in midfield holder role, but might have to use him on the backline

AML- Michael Houghton (27)- Strictly an offensive player, but might flourish in our new system

FRC- Alex Hay (28)- Steady overall player, not the best choice for rightwing, but might have to be the one there

AMRC- James Dawson (16)- Youth player who looks like might be good fit at rightwing, but awfully young and still needs developing

AMLC- Frazer Toms (30)- No idea why they had him on reserves- the most dynamic midfielder we have offensively- not sure whether he will be on leftwing or if somewhere in middle

MRC- Nick Hunt (18)- They used him a lot, but he has no concept of team play and though solid physical attributes I don't see much place for him here

AMC- Gareth Graham (31)- Likely our best midfielder- have to hope he plays well in a new system he isn't totally suited for

MRL- John Burton (20)- I like him- he is very agile and has great balance, but his skills not fully developed- giving his lanky frame and great work ethic, he might actually have to play inside for us

SC- Gary Hardy (18)- Team captain at 18? Works hard and appears the only forward who knows how to put the ball in the net- has to be a starter

AM/FL- Anthony Hogg (20)- They weren't even using him??? An absolute speed demon and though he has little experience up front I plan to team him with Hardy because of his pace- exciting little player

SC- Wayne Vaughan (30)- Bitter player- thought he might be able to help us, but his sour attitude and lack of work ethic probably will keep me from using him much unless he improves

FC- Ashley Marshall (21)- Was the other forward, but likely only a bench player for me- doesn't have any skills that stand out, especially touch around the net

SC- Carl Holden (19)- Good pace and acceleration, but Hardy is better around the net- could be good sub to bring on with his speed

SC- Aren Wilford (28)- Solid player, but lacks pace and scoring ability to help us much in the system I want to use

Main needs are a few more veterans- especially defenders. We are weak in central defense and also need some midfielders whose skills match up better with the system I want to put in. We also need fowards, but likely will try to get by with Hardy and Hogg for now.

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6.2.10

AFC Wimbledon (2) Margate (1)

AFC- G.Hardy 9 F.Toms 79

Margate- R.Payne 87

MOM- Frazer Toms, AFC Wimbledon

AFC showed they had life as they won for Colley in his debut, beating 7th place Margate 2-1. Frazer Toms, brought back from his purgatory on the reserve team, keyed the AFC offense. Gary Hardy gave AFC the early lead when he wheeled around and blasted a shot past Karl Barr. He scored with a sizzling low shot past Barr into the corner of the net. Toms then took advantage of a lull where everyone was slow reacting when Hardy hit the crossbar by slamming the ball into the net. AFC was too comfortable with the lead and the backline blew their coverage to allow Rob Payne to waltz in and fire a shot inside the near right post past James Bittner to bring hope to Margate. AFC clung to their defense and managed to stave off the rally to win their first match after losing 9 straight.

DC- A win! We needed it so badly, but we held on barely to win the match. It certainly wasn't a great match, but just to break the losing streak was a big boost to the confidence.

***

AFC Adds Help

AFC Wimbledon, in danger of again being relegated from Conference play, has signed veteran defenders Richard Hope and Matt Lockwood on free transfers. Both are expected to move into the lineup as Manager Colley is apparently trying to sprinkle some solid veteran presence in his very young side. Also arriving was 22 Irish AMLC Gary O'Neill. O'Neill was released by Derry despite a promising start with them.

DC- Maybe not the best choices, but I had to grab whatever I could off the free pile to start. I don't even have any scouts yet (though 3 should be set with contracts soon). Couldn't wait on scouting, we needed bodies here now.

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10.2.10

Scarborough (2) AFC Wimbledon (1)

Scarborough- P.Mason 13 M.Knight 83

AFC Wimbledon- A.Hogg 78

MOM- Mark Knight, Scarborough

AFC Wimbledon fell to a disappointing 2-1 loss after evening the match up late, only to have the backline again fail to cover well and allow the match winner. Paul Mason put Scarborough up early when he was left unmarked and had an easy time sliding a shot under James Bittner. AFC had numerous chances in the match, including Frazer Toms apparent equalizer that was ruled off when Gary Hardy was offside. Hardy, who had a terrible match, also missed a penalty kick early in the second half, which could well have been the deciding moment. Anthony Hogg boosted the AFC side with his late equalizer when Matt Lockwood made a wonderful long pass to find him in space on the left before he rifled his shot past Gareth Downey. Scarborough came right back to win the match as Paul O'Donoghue again made a poor decision on when to challenge and left Knight alone for Keith Gilroy to slide a pass into. Manager Colley was livid with his club as their defensive letdown cost them dearly.

DC- Argh! We could have done much better in the match, but just wasted too many opportunities. Our backline play was very spotty- good one moment, terrible the next.

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13.2.10

Barnet (2) AFC Wimbledon (1)

Barnet- M.Eaton 67 D.Cook 81

AFC- G.O'Neill 87

MOM- Chris Plummer, Barnet

AFC Wimbledon suffered another difficult loss as they continued to struggle with problems on their backline. Following a scoreless first half where the home side had much the better of the play, it was Barnet finally moving ahead. Mark Eaton smashed a rising shot past James Bittner after Paul Liddle let him free behind him. Barnet appeared to have the match clinched when Dave Cook scored his 10th goal of the season when James Bittner was caught flatfooted on a ball he should have had. AFC didn't quit though and Gary O'Neill scored his 1st goal at AFC when he fired a shot past Matt Forbes inside the right post after a nice pass from Gareth Graham. Chris Plummer was the deserving MOM as he broke up several AFC scoring chances, but none bigger than his saving tackle on Anthony Hogg in the closing moments.

DC- Not good, not good at all. We were more fortunate to even be in this match. Couldn't move the ball and couldn't shake loose- especially from Plummer. Deserved this result, but it doesn't help us at all.

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20.2.10

AFC Wimbledon (3) Halesowen Town (2)

AFC- F.Toms 5,55 A.Hogg 35

Halesowen- S.Dawson 87 M.Gordon 90

MOM- Frazer Toms, AFC Wimbledon

It was a match that appeared well in hand for AFC Wimbledon, but their backline woes came back and allowed Halesowen to mount a rally that nearly saw them even at the end. AFC scored quickly when a chip pass to Frazer Toms from Gareth Graham was enough to see him away down the center. His pace allowed him to split the defenders and he rocketed a shot past Phil Senior. Anthony Hogg's blinding pace gave AFC their 2nd goal as he outraced two defenders to a rebound from Senior after he parried away Gary Hardy's shot. Toms scored his 2nd goal of the match when he took a flick on from Hardy and slid the ball underneath the diving Senior. Halesowen's late rally started when Matt Collins chipped a pass by a clearly out of position Richard Hope and Stephen Dawson drilled a shot into the right side of the net. It was a one goal match when Michael Gordon blasted a low shot that James Bittner was slow to react to and it skittered off his hands into the net. Gordon had a terrific chance to even the match in extra time, but he skimmed the bar with his shot and AFC held on for the close 3-2 win.

DC- Youch! From my angle, Gordon's shot looked in- I was certain we had wasted a chance to get 3 points we desperately needed. Good thing it did miss. Not a bad effort offensively, but the defensive concepts I hoped to put in place just aren't sticking and I am getting frustrated with the backline.

***

Wimbledon's Woes

AFC Wimbledon, suddenly showing signs of life after winning 2 of their last 4 matches, will now be without the player who has been helping improve their fortunes. Frazer Toms fractured a wrist in practice and will now miss the next month. It remains to be seen if this threatens the club's fragile morale.

DC- An early test of survival. If we can continue to play solid football without Frazer it will tell me a lot about the makeup of the club.

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27.2.10

Macclesfield (1) AFC Wimbledon (7)

Macclesfield- A.Lawless 70

AFC- J.Burton 11,61 G.Hardy 45,49 C.Holden 51 G.O'Neill 54 A.Hogg 66

MOM- Michael Houghton, AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon stunned favored Macclesfield in a 7-1 rout at The Moss Rose Ground and answered some questions about their heart after the midweek loss of Frazer Toms. AFC was flying from the opening whistle and their first goal came when John Burton deflected a Michael Houghton corner past James Ball for his 1st goal of the season. Paul Liddle's perfect long pass set up Gary Hardy nicely on a counter attack to make it a 2-0 lead for AFC. Things went from bad to worse for Macclesfield as Dean Green received his 2nd yellow card at 40 minutes. AFC was better prepared to take advantage of the 10 man lineup in the second half and Alex Hay's looping pass gave Hardy a chance to blast home his 2nd goal of the match in the opening moments. Matt Lockwood started the next goal with a long pass down the left side that Anthony Hogg ran down. Hogg went by David Hughes on the dribble and that allowed Carl Holden (subbed on for slightly injured Hardy) to have an easy time half volleying the cross from Hogg past Ball for his 1st goal of the season. Gary O'Neill was next on the scoreboard after he beat Hughes on the dribble and fired a precision shot inside the far right post past Ball. Burton added his 2nd deflection for a goal in the match when he headed O'Neill's corner home. Hay keyed the last AFC goal with a pass to a quick moving Holden. Holden slotted the ball across to Hogg and he broke in and whipped a shot past Ball to make it 7-0. AFC yielded a consolation goal when Alex Lawless overpowered Richard Hope in the area and drove a header past James Bittner. The impressive win moved AFC out of the basement and Woking into it as both have 28 points, but the goal differential shifted to AFC's favor with the big win. It also brought AFC within 4 points of Halifax, who currently is holding the 19th spot- the last safe position.

DC- Where did that come from? We didn't even have one good practice this week- but we got in the game and everything clicked. Guess it happens that ways sometimes. The goals help us a lot on our differential and the size of the win sure helped the club be more optimistic about our chances.

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5.3.10

AFC Signs Harvey

AFC Wimbledon today announced the signing on free transfer of 20 yr old DC Steve Harvey. Harvey, who was a product of the Tranmere youth program and had been released earlier this season by them, was reportedly pleased to come to a club where he would get the opportunity to play.

DC- I hope Harvey helps answer some of the problems we are having in the middle. Paul O'Donoghue has skills, but is continually wandering all over the pitch and abandoning the position playing we need on the backline. Richard Hope has been a waste of money- bad judgement or just plain desparation on my part I guess. At least Matt Lockwood still has a semblence of the skills from when I first saw him at Orient.

***

6.3.10

AFC Wimbledon (1) Shrewsbury (0)

AFC- G.Hardy 18

Shrewsbury- None

MOM- Paul O'Donoghue, AFC Wimbledon

It was a match decided in a series of plays, but AFC Wimbledon won out by taking better advantage of one of their chances in the close 1-0 win. 4th place Shrewsbury needed this match badly to keep their hopes alive of moving up. They were dealt a blow early on when Matt Lockwood's superior vision of the pitch picked out Gary Hardy alone in the middle. His long pass was on the money and Hardy made a quick move to the right before slotting the ball inside the right post past Scott Wilkins. The reason Hardy was so alone was that Joe Butler had badly sprained his ankle earlier in the play and he had been marking Hardy. Wilkins was very fortunate moments later as he wandered out of his net and made a clearing kick- only to see Alex Hay head it back toward the net. The ball sailed just over the net. Early in the second half AFC blew a 4 on 1 situation when Hardy made a terrible cross that sailed over the head of both John Burton and Michael Houghton who were wide open on the leftside of the net. James Bittner came up with the save of the match when James Jeffry, who had gotten behind the AFC backline was in alone. Bittner made a sensational save as he pushed his shot around the post to keep the slim lead. The final whistle found a tired, but relieved AFC side congratulating Bittner as they held on for the 1-0 win. The win moved AFC within a point of 20th placed Hayes and within 2 points of 19th placed Halifax.

DC- One good pass, one good finish and a lot of great work by Bittner. Another win that we may not have really deserved, but am sure glad to have on the books.

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13.3.10

Morecambe (3) AFC Wimbledon (1)

Morecambe- R.Clarke 35 L.Cook 54 T.Osborne 79

AFC- A.Hogg 43

MOM- Craig Mawson, Morecambe

There was little doubt that Morecambe keeper Craig Mawson deserved the MOM honours and standing ovation he received following the 3-1 Morecambe win. Single handedly Mawson had stymied AFC through much of the first half and then again in the second half to win the match for the home side. Morecambe took the early lead when Rob Bryant took advantage of Paul O'Donoghue wandering away from Richard Clarke. Clarke took the softly chipped pass and rifled a shot through James Bittner for the lead. AFC was generating wonderful chances in the first half as Anthony Hogg's pace was causing problems. Mawson stopped Hogg twice on one-on-ones and made two absolutely brilliant saves on Hogg crosses to unmarked Gary Hardy. Hardy could only shake his head over the work of Mawson. Hogg finally found a way to get one by him as he equalized for AFC before half. Richard Hope found his way to the bench after Manager Colley immediately removed him when he did a walkabout while allowing Lee Cook to go free behind him for the goal that put Morecambe ahead. Tim Osborne then capped the 3-1 win when he deflected a Bryant corner past Bittner to seal the win.

DC- We wasted all of Anthony Hogg's fine work in the first half. Still, we didn't deserve to win this one and hopefully it will impress upon them the benefit of actually playing 90+ minutes, rather than half of that and hoping.

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20.3.10

AFC Wimbledon (2) Southport (0)

AFC- G.Hardy 9 A.Hogg 70

Southport- None

MOM- Craig Sives, AFC Wimbledon

It was a rough match and there was clearly little love lost between the two clubs as 8 yellow cards were issued and there was a lot of skirmishing. AFC Wimbledon came out with a crucial 2-0 victory thanks to Paul Newton, who ably stepped in to play for James Bittner in the AFC net- after Bittner went down with an injury in the 12th minute of play. AFC already held the lead at that point thanks to a sizzling pass from Michael Houghton that Gary Hardy was able to stop and then rocket through Peter Middleton's hands into the net for an AFC lead. AFC's backline played much better today and rightback Craig Sives used his blazing speed to thwart several Southport attacks as they desperately tried to rally. AFC felt more comfortable after John Burton, who had subbed on for a tiring Houghton, made a superb pass to Anthony Hogg. Hogg made a sensational half volley lob which sailed over the stranded Middleton to give AFC the important 2nd goal. AFC worked hard to keep the pressure off Newton and he finished out the clean sheet with a good save on a Paul Byrne header. Bittner's injury was costly- a damaged hip that will keep him out until next season. The win leaves AFC still in 21st, but even Halifax on points and trailing by only a goal in differential. Both AFC and Halifax are a point astern of 19th place Hayes and 3 points behind 18th place Leigh RMI.

DC- They really don't like us! Very rough match. Really down once I heard the news on James Bittner. He was the one player we couldn't afford to lose- and now out for the season. I will have to try the transfer market to come up with a replacement- I don't think we can avoid relegation with Paul Newton in net- despite how well he filled in today.

***

DC- My hand is being forced! Both Michael Houghton and Frazer Toms want fairly large wage increases to stay at AFC. They are solid players, but not worth the sums they are asking for. I will have to dip into the transfer market anyway, so I guess now is the time to look for some replacements.

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DC- DAMM! Now Paul Liddle is out for the season! He had been our best backline player and I was going to play him every match, now we are left with patchwork again. I don't even know if I can find anything on the transfer market in our limited range, but since I have landed a few midfielders, just maybe....

***

Transfer Deadline Brings Several to AFC

AFC Wimbledon manager Dave Colley, in an all out attempt to help the club avoid relegation, has splashed out some of his scarce funds to strengthen the club for the final stretch of the season. The players coming aboard are:

Steve Croudson 30 yr old GK purchased from Mansfield for 2K. Should step into the starting role with the loss of Bittner.

Alan Fettis 39 yr old GK purchased from Hull for 2K. Looks like backup to Croudson and looks like there is little confidence in Paul Newton.

Demba Traore 27 yr old SC purchased from Notts Co for 10K. May move into the starting lineup up front, but may also be cover for Hardy-Hogg.

Jim Corbett 29 yr old AMFR purchased from Southend for 5K. Should move into starting rightwing role.

Mark Peers 25 yr old AML purchased from Dag and Red for 24K. The priciest purchase indicates two things- 1) Dave Colley really likes him and 2) The contract negotiations with Michael Houghton must be at a standstill.

Tony Shields 29 yr old DMC purchased from Grimsby for 2K. Looks like he will step directly into a starting role on the club, as a solid DMC was on the wishlist for Colley.

Bertrand Cozic 31 yr old French AMRC purchased from Telford for 1K. May either spell or displace Gareth Graham- likely will play in the middle and not on a wing.

Tim Osborne 22 yr old MC purchased from Walsall for 3K. After seeing him score against AFC, Manager Colley went out and actually purchased him when his loan was up. Midfield depth now, but a promising future.

Leon Brown 27 yr old SC purchased from Newton for 3K. Not highly regarded, but somehow caught Manager Colley's eye and will add depth up front.

Pagguy Zunda 26 yr old FLC purchased from Barnet for 4K. Appears to be depth for the front line, may get some starts.

Matthew Wicks 31 yr old DLC purchased from Burton Albion for 1K. Will move into starting and leadership role. Hopefully a better investment than Richard Hope.

DC- Lots of midfield help and some keepers, but only Wicks for the backline. There will be hell to pay if we don't stay up- we are now way over allotted player weekly budget, but hopefully all will be forgiven if we stay up. Have to hope all these additions gel quick- we can't afford any time.

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3.4.10

Bury (1) AFC Wimbledon (3)

Bury- T.Dunfield 29

AFC- A.Hogg 31 B.Cozic 51 G.Hardy 62

MOM- Gary Hardy, AFC Wimbledon

More questions were answered about the AFC Wimbledon staff as they somehow managed to get their new look lineup to play effectively as a team in a 3-1 upset win over 1st place Bury. Bury went ahead first after both clubs sputtered in the early going. Baldar Ingimar Adalsteinsson made a terrific run down the left side then stopped and wheeled the ball back to trailing Terry Dunfield. Dunfield took full advantage of Steve Croudson's inability to see through the scramble in front of him to rocket a 25 yard shot into the left side of the net, with Croudson not reacting until the ball was by him. AFC answered very quickly though as Mark Peers made a wending left side run and then passed to the middle. Anthony Hogg was waiting and his volley of Peer's pass went inside the right post to even things at 1-1. Neither side could get another goal before half, but AFC went ahead early in the second half. Jim Corbett danced through two defenders to break in from the right and passed to the middle. Peers halfhearted shot was blocked by David Tyrie, but it bounced to Bertrand Cozic and he didn't miss with his low shot to score on his debut. AFC felt more comfortable after Hogg made a blazing straight run down the left and then crossed to Gary Hardy. Defender David Cross had lost track of Hardy for a split second and paid for the mistake as Hardy headed the ball into the right side of the net to make it 3-1. AFC settled down to defend their lead at that point and their backline didn't let down today. Croudson was forced to make one more key save but AFC finished the 3-1 win. A glance at the standings after the match showed AFC Wimbledon had moved into 19th place! Manager Colley warned not to get too excited, since they were only ahead of 20th place Leigh RMI on goal differential and Leigh had a match in hand. Despite that comment, the fans of AFC were very encouraged by the road win and the performance of the new arrivals.

DC- They meshed well and we were finally able to pressure both wings with Peers and Corbett. Their outside presence gave Hogg even more room and he is an exciting player with room to create. I like our chances much more after this result.

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DC- Leigh RMI lost their match in hand! But Halifax won theirs. Five matches left...

18th- Hayes 38 pts (-16 goal diff)

19th- AFC Wimbledon 37 pts (-12 goal diff)

20th- Halifax 37 pts (-12 goal diff, less total goals than AFC)

21st- Leigh RMI 37 pts (-13 goal diff)

22nd- Woking 30 pts

Just have to win them all...

***

14.4.10

AFC Wimbledon (1) Exeter (0)

AFC- G.Hardy 45

Exeter- None

MOM- Craig Sives, AFC Wimbledon

A match with two halves and one mistake that was the difference that allowed AFC to edge Exeter 1-0. The first half belonged to AFC Wimbledon as they surged and attacked through most of the half. They had nothing to show for it though as Tim Dittmar was playing well in net for the visitors. AFC also shot a couple golden chances wide. It looked like the two sides were going to be headed to half scoreless when Tony Shields tried to thread a pass through to Gary Hardy. Both Hardy and defender Leon Johnson missed the pass and a surprised Dittmar was forced to parry it away. Hardy took full advantage of Dittmar being down to reach the loose ball first and push it into the net. Exeter regrouped and they came out and dominated the second half. AFC looked tired as the Exeter midfield surged- using crisp passing to push the ball quickly around. Steve Croudson made a sensational save when he pushed a close in shot from Kevin Davies over the bar. He had help too as Craig Sives, Steve Harvey and Matthew Wicks all made crucial interventions to ruin good Exeter chances. When the final whistle sounded, AFC still held their 1-0 advantage and had gained a crucial win. Another costly injury occurred for AFC, as newly acquired Mark Peers broke his arm and would miss the remainder of the season.

DC- I thought we would wind up with a draw against Exeter- they were really buzzing about our area the entire second half. The win left us in 19th- a point ahead of Hayes and even with Halifax (though they now held the favorable goal differential). Leigh RMI was 4 points back in 21st place. The loss of Peers was tough, but leftwing was the one position we had a lot of depth- as Toms and Houghton can start there.

***

DC- Another injury! Jim Corbett broke his wrist and will be out pretty much the season. A lot of good my transfers have done as they all seem to be getting hurt.

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17.4.10

AFC Wimbledon (2) Hayes (0)

AFC- G.Hardy 4 A.Hay 36

Hayes- None

MOM- Gary Hardy, AFC Wimbledon

It was a showdown match for survival between 20th place Hayes and 19th place AFC Wimbledon. AFC Wimbledon took full advantage of their chances and Hayes wasn't as fortunate and AFC is a bit more comfortable now for the 2-0 win. Anthony Hogg keyed the first chance with a run down the left sideline. Hogg reached the corner and crossed to the center. Hayes skipper Chris McDonald lost track of Gary Hardy and Hardy leaped and headed home Hogg's cross to give the important first goal to AFC. Gary O'Neill, who had replaced an injured Frazer Toms, made an exceptional long pass that picked out Alex Hay to the right of the six yard box. Hay never hesitated and Richard McKinney just missed the high shot over his shoulder for Hay's 1st goal at AFC to make it 2-0 for the home side. Hayes tried to rally, but were continually stymied by the good work of the AFC backline- led by Matthew Wicks. AFC missed a couple of excellent chances to increase their lead in the second half, but continued to play solid defense as they held off Hayes for the crucial 2-0 win. With the win, Halifax (17th, -7), AFC Wimbledon (18th, -9) and Macclesfield (19th, -17) are all tied at 43 points and holding the final 3 safe places. 20th place Hayes is now 4 points adrift of the three clubs, while Leigh RMI is 6 points away with just 3 matches remaining.

***

DC- Injuries are becoming a severe hinderence. We have lost Ian Jennings for at least the next two weeks with a sprained ankle. I was very proud of the effort against Hayes, we worked hard for that win and it was well deserved.

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24.4.10

Leigh RMI (2) AFC Wimbledon (0)

Leigh- J.Morrison 60 S.Thompson 83-P

AFC- None

MOM- Jamie Wright, Leigh RMI

Leigh RMI was fighting for their survival and it showed as they managed to get a pair of second half goals to dump AFC Wimbledon back into the mix with a 2-0 win. AFC played well in the first half but could not find a way to get anything past Leigh keeper Jamie Wright. The match was a taut one in the second half as every possession was contested. Leigh broke through when James Morrison and John Robson played a give and go in the center of the pitch. After passing to Robson, Morrison broke up the seam and neither Steve Harvey nor Matthew Wicks covered him. Robson got him the ball back and he fired a low shot past Steve Croudson into the left side of the net. Wright came up big moments later when he made a diving parry of a low shot from Anthony Hogg. Leigh put the match out of reach when Alex Hay was called for pushing Liam Cooper in the area. Steve Thompson made no mistake converting the penalty kick and AFC never really mounted a rally after falling behind 2-0. Hayes crushed Hereford 6-2 and that means AFC is currently 19th a point ahead of Hayes and 2 points ahead of Leigh RMI.

DC- We were playing well, then that one mistake. It killed us, both momentum and morale wise- very disappointing to see the lack of heart, but I guess that is one reason we are in the fight to stay up.

***

DC- As if we needed more bad news- now Steve Harvey is out for the rest of the season with a strained calf muscle. The grim reaper of injuries could quit calling on us any day now...

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1.5.10

Woking (2) AFC Wimbledon (1)

Woking- S.Stone 5 A.Smith 34

AFC- G.Hardy 15

MOM- Anthony Robertson, Woking

Woking may already have clinched relegation, but they were intent on taking AFC Wimbledon down with them and their 2-1 win puts AFC back into dire straits for their final match. Woking jumped on the AFC defense early when Anthony Robertson intercepted a Tony Shields pass and sent a looping pass back down the pitch. The replay shows that Steven Stone could well have been offside, but the referee ignored the flag as Stone drove a shot past Steve Croudson inside the left post. AFC equalized when Gareth Graham volleyed a pass forward for Gary Hardy. Hardy had a step on Robertson and though keeper Tom Williamson got a piece of the ball it went into the net to make it 1-1. AFC's poor luck continued on a booming Stewart Ferguson free kick. It hit the post squarely but spun out all the way to the left side of the area- where Andy Smith had an easy time tapping it into the net. AFC pulled out all the stops to try an even the match again, but Williamson had a fantastic match and in the late stages he stopped both Anthony Hogg and Hardy in one-on-ones. The 2-1 loss coupled with Hayes 2-1 win over Halifax leaves AFC and Halifax even with 43 points, but Halifax has a 3 goal edge in the differential. AFC faces the final match of the season knowing they need to win and needing some help from 3rd place Enfield, who are visiting Halifax for their final match. If both Halifax and AFC lose, then Leigh RMI could sneak up out of relegation with a win on the road against Hereford.

DC- Not only did we lose to Woking, we also lost dynamic rightback Craig Sives for the season. I can't help but feel gloomy after this match. All the breaks seemed to go against us and we aren't in control of our destiny going into the last match- we need help to avoid relegation. In my postgame talk to the boys- I explained that all we could do is take care of our business, the rest would have to take care of itself. I also told them I will not allow the scoreboard operator to update the Conference scores during our match- at least until after ours is over- because we have to concentrate on what we have control over and not be distracted by anything else.

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8.5.10

AFC Wimbledon (3) Nuneaton Borough (0)

AFC- G.Hardy 21,27 M.Houghton 58

Nuneaton- None

MOM- Michael Houghton, AFC Wimbledon

It was all on the line for AFC Wimbledon- they needed some help, but they had to take care of their own business to have a chance. It was a determined crew that set out and after seeing Stuart Gallagher stop two good chances it was finally AFC's time. Michael Houghton sent a ball into space on the left, which Anthony Hogg ran down. As Hogg was challenged he sent a smart cross into the middle and Gary Hardy was there to deflect it inside the left post to give AFC the lead. Tony Shields made good pass to find Bertrand Cozic just outside the area. Cozic blasted a shot past Gallagher, but it bounced squarely off the post. Hardy was in the right spot to pick the rebound off and fire it past Gallagher on the left side for his 2nd goal of the match and 15th of the season. Nuneaton Borough tried to rally to start the second half, but Steve Croudson made a good leaping save on Peter Banks and then Stuart Watkins just missed wide. AFC felt more comfortable when Matt Lockwood passed to Houghton and found with acres of space on the left. Before the defense could rotate over to challenge him, Houghton broke in and fired a hard shot inside the far right side post to make it 3-0. Hogg, who must have been feeling very unlucky had two more one-on-one chances against Gallagher, but the keeper saved both of them. When the final whistle blew, there was a roar from the crowd at The Fans' Stadium- Manager Colley would not allow them to post the updated scores during the match- he didn't want AFC distracted- but now the final score went up- Enfield had beaten Halifax 3-1 and AFC would finish 19th and avoid relegation.

DC- The roar of the crowd told me all I needed to know. I was proud of how hard the guys had played in the match, they knew that it might come down to goal differential and that anything we could gain might make the difference. Now that we are staying up- and the Board has asked me to stay for next season- I can really start to build a club that can challenge.

***

Very glad (and lucky actually) that the story didn't end with this match. Because of that- might as well carry it on...

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Summer 2010- From Dave Colley's Journal-

DC- The day after we survived to stay up, the Board asked me to stay on as Manager for next season. I told them I would be happy too, but that we would need more work on restructuring the club. They didn't have a problem with that, but they did let me know that I was way overboard on weekly wages and that I needed to find ways to at least get closer to balancing the bottom line. Some of that will just depend on getting rid of albatross contracts I inherited- and after we discussed it, they understood that it might take time. They did want to see progress in that regard though, so it will make for some tough decisions.

Two decisions bound to be unpopular among the fans- I will not re-sign either Michael Houghton or Frazer Toms. They both did well, but with our injuries healing up- and some other lineup moves- neither would have a confirmed space in next season's starting lineup. They both want more money than I am willing to pay them- another factor in the decision.

There are many players here that I would love to dump, but finding takers is the problem. Wayne Vaughan has the largest waste of a contract on the club, so I would be glad to let him go free somewhere, but that doesn't seem likely. James Bittner was solid enough in net for us, but his contract is also higher than what his actual worth is- so I will likely try to find another keeper to pair with Croudson and see if I can relocate Bittner. Joe Keith, Nick Hunt, Ian Jennings and Carl Holden also have contracts that I would like to move. John Burton is one I would like to keep- but he wants a high end contract and I don't think his skills merit it- so I will also see if I can get something for him. One mistake (of a few) I made in the desperate search for players to keep us up last season- was to give Gary O'Neill a too generous contract. He is a solid player, but not worth what we are paying for him- so he is another one I will try and sell. Ashley Marshall, Alex Hay and Aren Wilford are also players I will try and find new homes for- because they aren't worth what we are paying.

Where does that leave us? Searching for some newer, hopefully less expensive players. The core players that I don't plan on moving are:

GK- Steve Croudson

DL- Matt Lockwood

DC- Matthew Wicks

DC- Steve Harvey

DR- Craig Sives

DRC- Paul Liddle

AML- Mark Peers

DMC- Tony Shields

MC- Tim Osborne

AMFR- Jim Corbett

SC- Gary Hardy

FLC- Pagguy Zunda

AMFL- Anthony Hogg

Everyone else can be had, but there are some that won't gain any transfer attention so I will be welcoming them back after summer break.

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DC- My summer goals are two fold- to get closer to goal on weekly wages and to add quality to allow us to improve and avoid the relegation battle. I want to take a dual approach on adding quality players to- since there are some good players available on free (at least not too ancient ones) I will try to get a core of those and then layer the club underneath that steady veteran core with young players that I have hopes for. This will be my first summer ever working the acquisition side, and though it will be a challenge- it will also be fun to be in control of the club's makeup.

***

DC- Well, the summer has been interesting- actually enlightening- and somewhat successful for us. The success has come in the way of relocating many players that I really didn't want. These are the results of the transfer selling...

Culling-

Gareth Graham (100K to Div 2 Plymouth)

John Burton (Tribunal awards 160K, signed with Div 2 Luton- but won't take place until 1.10.10)

Demba Traore (7K to Div 3 Burton Albion)

James Bittner (20K to Div 3 Carlisle)

Ashley Marshall (6K to Div 2 Northwich Vics)

Gary O'Neill (7K to Div 2 Gillingham)

Joe Keith (7K to NC Canvey Island)

Wayne Vaughan (7K to NC Marine)

Ian Jennings (6K to NC Barrow)

Alex Hay (6K to NC Woking)

I am pretty happy with getting even the minimal amounts- any scraps of money will help me in the end.

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Wicks Walks

AFC Wimbledon surprisingly announced the sale of last season's inspirational leader- veteran defender Matthew Wickes. Wickes, though happy to move up in play, was also a bit sorry to be leaving. "Every player aspires to make a difference. It isn't often that you can clearly see the impact you have had on a club. Keeping AFC up ranks as one of the highlights of my career." Wickes was purchased by Division 2 AFC Bournemouth for his rated amount of 110K. AFC Wimbledon Manager Dave Colley stated that he was, "Sorry to see Matthew go- but happy for the recognition that last season's contributions earned him."

DC- It was a tough call to accept the transfer deal for Matthew. Even harder will be the fact that we now need to find some veteran leadership for what will be an even younger club this season. The amount offered was too good to turn down- offers like that don't grow on trees for clubs at our level.

***

DC- The law of unintended consequences is now clear. Though I managed to pare our roster quite nicely- now no established players are interested in coming here. They see AFC Wimbledon as a 'no hoper' for this season and even fair wage offers won't sway them. All I can do about it is to try and find some younger players who want a chance- and then try to develop them. It may well make this season another long and trying one- too soon to tell now though.

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DC- Lots of new additions to report- in keeping with our only being able to interest unattached young players (most of whom come to us from established club's youth programs, but were subsequently released by the parent club- beggars can't be choosers in our current situation...)

Matt Cooper 20 yr old MR- arrives from Reading on free transfer. Scouts liked him, but I think he will end up as reserve material- still decent cover for right wing.

Stephen Green 21 yr old DC- Also from Reading youth, but they released him. I have higher hopes for him than Cooper, though may have to be patient and let him develop some first

David Woozley 30 yr old DLC- One of the few veterans to accept our offers, Doncaster let him go on free to us and I hope he provides leadership to replace that lost with Matthew Wickes departure

Mark Kennedy 17 yr old DRC- released by Manchester United and promptly signed by us. Scouts like him, but he looks like a project at this point

Alan Charlton 17 yr old AMRL- released by Tottenham. He could help us at depth on either wing this season- can absolutely fly pace-wise which is something I like on the wings

Dave Watts 17 yr old SC- released by Tottenham. Scouts like this tall, willowy forward and I think he could help us up front this season

Andrew Holt 15 yr old MRLC- bought for 1K from fellow Conference side Telford. I want to keep him, so that means not featuring him too much until 17, but he should help provide cover in the midfield for us this season

Steve Murphy 20 yr old DL- released by Stockport. He will be in the mix for starting leftback, as I am not sure how much trust I can place in Matt Lockwood's aging legs

Mark Vaughan 17 yr old SC- released by Arsenal. He has capped at schoolboy level and appears to be a very promsing forward- should get some serious playing time

Steve Morris 17 yr old MR- released by Blackburn. One reason Cooper is more cover was the signing of promising Morris. He will be 2nd choice to Corbett on rightwing (and Corbett already is proving to be a bit injury prone)

Wayne Harrison 21 yr old SC- purchased from Billericay for 3K. Originally out of the Portsmouth youth program and appears to have solid physical attributes, but needs polishing on the skills

Darren Trumball 15 yr old DMRC- purchased from Leigh RMI for 1K. I hope to keep him as well, which means working him in occasionally- will provide cover for Tony Shields in midfield

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DC- Not even to our first friendly and the bad news is here. Mark Peers tore his groin muscle and will miss the next 4 months because I decided we needed to try and take care of this once and for all. His loss will hurt us, but Anthony Hogg will benefit from the playing time as I move him back to his more natural wing position this season.

***

DC- More bad news as keeper Steve Croudson will miss the next two months with a torn groin. With only Fettis on hand, I will be forced to try youngster Lee Brough on the senior side for the rest of the friendlies- to see if the 17 yr old is ready. If not, then I may have to explore the transfer market to fill in for Croudson.

***

DC- Brough showed good signs- but injured his calf muscle and is also out 3 weeks. With Fettis as my only healthy keeper on the roster I am forced to sign another youngster off the free list to provide some cover to start the season.

***

DC- On the eve of our last friendly, it was surprising to receive a phone call from the Michael Harford, Chairman of Luton. It was even more surprising to have him offer me the job of managing the Division 2 side. In good conscience, I turned down the opportunity.

***

DC- Some additional cover as we finish out our friendlies. We added:

Kevin Chambers 17 yr old GK- released by Leicester. We had to have another body to play keeper behind Fettis and Chambers at least had a little promise according to my scouts

John Edwards 20 yr old D/DMC- released by Bournemouth. Signing him as cover for Shields means that we can afford to hide Trumball out a bit until he turns 17

***

DC- It shouldn't surprise me by now- Corbett injured his shoulder and will miss 2 weeks. So far my favored tandem of Peers and Corbett have played exactly 1 match together. We added another very raw player:

Chris Reid 21 yr old DC purchased for 1K from Salisbury. He has the physical abilities to succeed, but is very raw skill-wise

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4.8.11

AFC Wimbledon (6) Ipswich (1)

AFC Wimbledon surprised visiting Division 1 Ipswich in their final friendly as they took full advantage of their scoring chances.

DC- I warned the boys that this win meant nothing, but did tell them I was very happy with their execution in the match.

***

2010-11 Conference Preseason Odds

7-4 Barnet

2-1 Scarborough

2-1 Enfield

5-2 Oxford

5-2 Margate

3-1 Nuneaton Borough

200-1 AFC Wimbledon

DC- Obviously the friendly win over Ipswich did little to sway the oddsmakers...

***

DC- As we finally ready for the start of the season- three more additions to the AFC lineup:

Richard Neville 21 yr old AMC purchased from Wycombe for 35K. I really like Neville and think he will do well in a starting midfield role for us

Mark Kerr 21 yr old MR purchased from Cambridge for 12K. Though we have loads of rightwingers, I couldn't pass up the chance to land what looks to be a solid player

Peter Wilkinson 15 yr old AMR purchased from Chester for 5K. Another youngster I hope to hang on to. My scouts really liked him and the fact that he is leftfooted may make for an eventual move to leftwing- where there are more spaces on our club

***

DC- In a last minute sale before the season starts- Paul O'Donoghue has been relocated to Harrogate Town for 7K. I had come to the conclusion (helped by watching friendlies) that Paul would never thrive in our system of play- so because of that I was trying to move his significant salary onwards.

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14.8.10

AFC Wimbledon (1) Shrewsbury (2)

AFC- A.Hogg 26

Shrewsbury- G.McCarthy 16 S.Tillen 30

MOM- Trevor Wilkinson, Shrewsbury

In an all too familiar repeat of last season's problems, AFC Wimbledon's poor finishing and inattentive backline play led to another close loss. David Woozley's poor pass was picked up by Kevin Street. Street made a superb pass that allowed Mark Rasmussen to run onto it. Rasmussen's cross picked out Ger McCarthy- unmarked by either Stephen Green or Paul Liddle and he looped his header over a slow reacting Alan Fettis. AFC evened the match when Anthony Hogg blistered a 30 yard free kick past Scott Wilkins. Shrewsbury moved back ahead when AFC blew their coverage on a corner and Sam Tillen deflected Street's corner past Fettis. The entire second half saw AFC apply pressure- get chances- and then miss good shots. Gary Hardy barely missed the far post with a nice chance and Dave Watts is certain to be kicking himself as he missed no less than four good chances to score on Wilkins. AFC came up short when Wilkins- ably supported by defender Trevor Wilkinson- blunted their last crosses in extra time leaving AFC on the wrong end of a 2-1 score.

DC- We wasted too many chances. We outshot them 14-4 and could have had a much better result from the match. It was a disappointing way to start the season, but we just have to pick up and get better in our execution.

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17.8.10

Bradford PA (2) AFC Wimbledon (3)

Bradford- G.Porter 14,54

AFC- A.Charlton 26 G.Hardy 38,63

MOM- Gary Hardy, AFC Wimbledon

Just like that AFC Wimbledon righted themselves and though their showing was spotty- they played well enough to edge Bradford PA 3-2 at Horsfall Stadium. It didn't start out that way as it looked like more of the same old by AFC. Danny Campbell sent a sensational through ball past Steve Harvey and that put Graeme Porter away. Porter whistled a rising shot past Alan Fettis to give the home side the lead. AFC answered that goal when Alan Charlton scored in his debut. Richard Neville made a strong effort and his chip pass went to the edge of the six yard box. Charlton retrieved it and fired past Chris Watson on a sharp angle for his first AFC goal. AFC then took the halftime lead as Wayne Harrison took the ball away from Mike Day on a throw in and motored down the right side of the pitch. As he made his way into the area he crossed and found Gary Hardy with John Townsend a step slow in covering. That was all the room Hardy needed as he made a quick move to his right and drilled a shot past Watson inside the near right post. Bradford evened the match early in the second half. Justin Georcelin rifled a shot from the edge of the area. Fettis blocked it away, only to see Porter pounce on the rebound and fire it past him for his 2nd goal of the match to make it 2-2. AFC struck for the eventual match winner as John Edwards dumped a pass in for Andrew Holt. Holt, subbed on for a tiring Neville, slipped a pass that found Hardy free inside the six yard box. Hardy slashed a shot past Watson inside the right post to put AFC ahead 3-2. Bradford tried to rally, but Fettis finally made a couple good saves to preserve the close win.

DC- Fettis played badly on the first two goals, but saved us the win when it counted. It was a good effort for the side that we fielded today.

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21.8.10

Macclesfield (1) AFC Wimbledon (0)

Macclesfield- R.Hogg 27

AFC- None

MOM- James Ball, Macclesfield

It was another match of missed opportunities for AFC Wimbledon as they fell to Macclesfield in a closely contested 1-0 loss. The lone goal of the match came when Alan Fettis botched handling Richard Hogg's header on a cross from Danny Prior and it dropped into the net behind him. AFC had many chances to even the match, but their decision making in the area was very poor and their shooting was atrocious. Mark Vaughan had two great chances in the first half, but both his shots were well off the mark. Gary Hardy's hard shot trickled past James Ball, but rolled just past the post. Hardy made a great play in the closing moments of the match to send Alan Charlton around Ball, but Charlton missed the wide open net to the great frustration of all the AFC side.

DC- We just didn't have it around the net today- very frustrating to see us waste chances like this.

***

DC- I pulled the trigger and purchased 22 yr old DR Paul Dunn from Colchester for 12K. Lord knows we didn't need another right back- but Paul reminds me a lot of Lee Sims from Orient, and I could tell he is head and shoulders above the others we have there- so I grabbed him and he will move directly into the starting lineup for us.

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28.8.10

AFC Wimbledon (2) Morecambe (0)

AFC- G.Hardy 29,67

Morecambe- None

MOM- Gary Hardy, AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon managed to pull themselves out of the problems they had the last two matches thanks to their young skipper Gary Hardy. Hardy, continuing to prove he is a class striker and an excellent club leader, gave them the first half lead when he finished off an excellent passing play that was started by Paul Dunn. Dunn, who had a stellar debut at rightback, skimmed a hard pass in that Wayne Harrison just pushed to the right. Hardy ran on to the ball and slipped it past a diving Joe Rogers. In the second half, Matt Lockwood sent a pass in that neither Hardy nor defender Neil Parker could corral. Rogers was caught off guard when the ball went past both of them and was caught flat footed in net. Hardy was quickest to the loose ball and fired a sharp angled shot past Rogers for his 2nd goal of the match. AFC then strung together some good work in supporting 17 yr old Lee Brough to get a clean sheet in his debut.

DC- A lot of encouraging happenings. Dunn really played excellent and Brough was steady in net. Hardy is just a good scorer, but I desperately need to find another forward to pair with him. Harrison was ok today- but the chemistry is wrong between him and Hardy. Our other young forwards (Dave Watts and Mark Vaughan) haven't looked ready yet. Pagguy Zunda gets a last shot at the spot for now, but he hasn't played well since we signed him

***

DC- We landed a veteran keeper I could live with- finally. Dean Delaney, a 29 yr old who has kicked around several clubs, was transfer listed at Tranmere and more than willing to come to us for a chance to play (salary demands were fine too). It cost us 20K to land him, but that seems an equitable purchase price to me.

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4.9.10

Hereford (0) AFC Wimbledon (1)

Hereford- None

AFC- A.Hogg 90

MOM- Anthony Hogg, AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon had given a determined effort, but it certainly appeared that the scoreless draw was inevitable as time wound down. Instead Anthony Hogg used his quickness to beat two defenders down the left side and broke in to slide a dramatic match winning goal underneath Sam Wright as AFC pulled out a 1-0 win. Up to Hogg's goal it was another match of missed opportunities for AFC. Mark Vaughan, who had come in for ineffective Pagguy Zunda, missed two excellent scoring chances- one set up by Richard Neville and the other by Hogg- as he missed the net badly both times when all alone in front. Gary Hardy had also fired one off the crossbar in the first half. Hereford also had a tale of woe, as Dean Delaney had a stellar debut for AFC and stymied them on some good scoring chances in both halves.

DC- All the hard work by Anthony Hogg finally paid off and he really earned that goal- using that burst when I knew he was dead tired. The match highlighted the fact we don't seem to have a fit partner up front for Hardy.

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Thanks thepain, I am glad you are liking it icon_smile.gif

***

7.9.10

AFC Wimbledon (2) Halesowen Town (1)

AFC- D.Watts 38,70

Halesowen- P.Burton 74

MOM- Dave Watts, AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon, playing without several resting players- including skipper Gary Hardy- managed to hold off visiting Halesowen Town in a taut 2-1 win. The match was in doubt until the final whistle as Dean Delaney had to make a pair of good last minute saves to preserve the AFC win. Dave Watts showed he has potential and knows what to do with the ball as he scored in each half to key the win. Steven Murphy was the architect of the first goal as he intercepted a wild clearing pass and then sent a pass to Watts on the left side. Watts had enough room to break into the area and his shot trickled past Phil Senior for his 1st goal at AFC. Watts 2nd goal of the match was a thing of beauty as Paul Dunn lofted a long pass into the area. Watts and defender Peter Reynolds leaped for the ball, but it was Watts who snapped his hard header past Senior to make it 2-0 AFC. The visitors quickly drew one goal back when Paul Burton smashed a low shot past Delaney after a pass from Matt Quinn trickled past David Woozley. AFC held on for dear life as both Burton and Stephen Dawson had shots blocked away by Delaney as he held them off the board to finish the close 2-1 win.

DC- We had to hang on, but it was another good win in the books for us. If we can just get a little momentum- I think we might be able to string some good matches together.

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18.9.10

Scarborough (1) AFC Wimbledon (0)

Scarborough- M.Martin 90

AFC- None

MOM- Matthew Martin, Scarborough

It was AFC Wimbledon's turn to lose a heartbreaker as Matthew Martin slashed a rebound past Dean Delaney after Delaney had blocked a strong header from Lee King on a corner in the last moments of second half injury time. AFC would rue the chances it missed again in this match as Dave Watts had several good opportunities to score, but couldn't convert against Scarborough keeper Gareth Downey. Scarborough also had missed chances to score previous to Martin's goal, mainly due to excepitional saves made by Downey, as the AFC backline played poorly in the match.

DC- So much for momentum. It was another match of missed chances coming back to haunt us. We played well, but they played just a bit better and caught a break that they took full advantage of at the end.

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25.9.10

AFC Wimbledon (1) Darlington (0)

AFC- A.Charlton 80

Darlington- None

MOM- Craig Sives, AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon hadn't done particularly well in the Darlington zone during the match and it seemed well on track for a scoreless draw. One converted chance later, it was a close 1-0 win for the home side. David Woozley headed back a clearing kick and Andrew Holt, who was on for injured Tony Shields, continued to show why he is a excellent prospect as he picked out Alan Charlton unattended outside the right edge of the area. Charlton, who had subbed on for Steve Morris at rightwing, then made a quick move before drilling his shot inside the far left post for the lone goal in the match. Up until that point, Darlington's backline had done a very good job of covering the AFC midfielders and forwards- blanketing them inside their zone. They had completely smothered Stephen Elliott in his debut. Dean Delaney continued to show well in the AFC net- and AFC also welcomed back Steve Croudson to the bench after a long stint on the injured list. As is becoming the case, Jim Corbett is back on the injured list with a bad ankle.

DC- One good play made up for a very ineffective performance on the offensive end. Charlton looks more and more deserving of a starting role on either wing.

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28.9.10

AFC Wimbledon (0) Oxford (2)

AFC- None

Oxford- E.Dzeladini 8 C.Lee 26

MOM- Chris McCabe, Oxford

Oxford took advantage of AFC mistakes and leaned heavily on their keeper Chris McCabe to dump AFC 2-0. A combination of miscommunication and poor work by Dean Delaney led to the visitors' first goal. Steve Harvey headed a cross away to the left, but both Matt Lockwood and Paul Wilkinson stood and watched Evzal Dzeladini scoot right in and fire a shot. Delaney should have had the save on it, but instead bobbled the ball and it trickled into the net. Oxford went up 2-0 when Delaney made a good parry of a header from Danny Brown, only to see defender Chris Lee whack the rebound past him for his 1st ever goal. McCabe gave a very good account of himself as he stopped Mark Kerr from in close and pushed a sharp angled shot from Alan Charlton around the post. The Oxford backline gave McCabe good support as they cleared all the loose balls away and marked the AFC forwards well. New AFC addition Stephen Elliott was booed when substituted for- he had his 2nd straight poor match and looks like a huge waste of money at this point.

DC- It is hard for me to argue with the fans and press- I appear to have been wrong about picking up Steve Elliott as a forward. I had just landed him a few days before the match on free. He seems to have little sense what to do in the offensive end. I guess I will try to use him as a game day sub and work him in that way.

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2.10.10

Margate (1) AFC Wimbledon (1)

Margate- D.Gill 67

AFC- D.Watts 77

MOM- Dave Watts, AFC Wimbledon

In a closely played match the 1-1 draw was well earned by both sides, but both clubs could rue the chances they missed. AFC did a good job of moving forward, with the surprising start of Stephen Elliott in the midfield seeming to help them. The problems for AFC was that skipper Gary Hardy wasn't converting his chances. Karl Barr made two excellent saves on Hardy, but Hardy also wasted three more chances by being hesitant with the ball. Following a scoreless first half the home side took the lead when Darren Gill flicked a header forward for Rob Payne. Dean Delaney parried away Payne's blast, but the ball was left uncleared by Stephen Green and Gill swooped in and fired it inside the left post for his 5th goal of the season. AFC equalized when Dave Watts took a pass from Hardy, moved past Lee Mathews and rifled his shot past Barr inside the left post. AFC had another good chance late in the match, but Alan Charlton's shot bounced solidly off the post and AFC was forced to settle for the 1-1 draw. Hardy twisted his ankle at the end of the match and will miss the next two weeks.

DC- It wasn't a bad performance, well other than Green's play, but if Hardy finishes just one of the good chances he had- then we get a win instead. It won't be easy without him for the next couple weeks.

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Comings and Goings at AFC

AFC Wimbledon surprised some, but likely pleased some of their fans, as they sold recently purchased Stephen Elliott to Luton for 35K. Luton was reportedly pleased to add Elliott to help them in their push for promotion from Division 3. Also leaving AFC will be veteran Betrand Cozic, who has been on the transfer list for quite some time now. Cozic will be moving to non-league Altrincham for 7K. Arriving at AFC will be flashy midfielder Chris Doughty. Doughty a 21 yr old AMC, was sold by bankrupt Morecambe for his rated price of 18K. Doughty will have to wait for his debut, as he is still on suspension at present. John Burton also finally moved on to Luton after signing with them this summer for the panel's price of 160K.

DC- I was surprised that Elliott drew a bid that quickly, but very glad (well we did offer him to any English club in 2nd, 3rd or Conference) that he did since the fans were against him and I wasn't too happy with him. Cozic was likely to retire soon and wasn't on the senior side- so it was fine to move him for a pittance. Doughty looks like an exciting player, maybe he will give us what we haven't had yet in our midfield- someone with offensive presence.

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9.10.10

Southport (1) AFC Wimbledon (3)

Southport- R.Davies 13

AFC- M.Vaughan 21 S.Harvey 57,65

MOM- Steve Harvey, AFC Wimbledon

The trials and tribulations of young clubs offer ups and downs and AFC Wimbledon's upset of 1st place Southport was definately one on the up cycle. The match started out poorly for AFC as Lee Williamson picked out Ryan Davies with a full two steps on Steve Harvey. Davies broke in and fired it past Dean Delaney inside the right post to leave AFC Manager Colley cringing. AFC righted themselves when they evened the match. Steve Murphy chipped a pass to Anthony Hogg at midfield. Hogg scurried all the way to the baseline before beating Gavin Rothery on the dribble. Hogg crossed to Mark Vaughan on the far side of the net. Vaughan collected the ball and then had time to blister a low shot past Peter Middleton for his 1st ever AFC goal. The two sides traded good attacks and both Middleton and Delaney had to be sharp to hold the score to 1-1 into the second half. AFC grabbed the lead when Steve Harvey used exquisite timing to deflect a corner from Hogg past Middleton for his 1st ever goal. Southport came close to answering immediately as Davies had a step on Harvey again, but Delaney pushed the shot over the bar for a terrific save. A few minutes later, Harvey provided a carbon copy header- this time on a Jim Corbett corner- for his 2nd goal of the match. Southport didn't quit, but they also couldn't get any more really good chances on Delaney and AFC had their surprising 3-1 road win. The win did come at a cost though as Dave Watts tore a calf muscle and will miss the next 3 months after surgery to correct it.

DC- A very proud moment for this club. We played the type of match we had to- to have a chance against them- and then took advantage of two corners (I don't think we had scored directly on a corner before this) to take away an encouraging win.

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Your stories are always so easy to read Faramir: and you often do Orient stories which is always a sure way to get me to read.

When I saw you had gone as far as naming a story after me I felt I had to comment icon_biggrin.gificon_wink.gif

Seriously, great stuff as usual.

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*Chuckles* Well, maybe not after you exactly icon_wink.gif

I liked the double combo of SOS and S-I, so that is why I bunched them together. Glad you are enjoying it though icon_smile.gif

By the way, got a nice reply back from Matthew Porter (the official Orient webmaster) for an email I sent him.

***

More AFC Player Movement

AFC Wimbledon announced the transfer sale of keeper Steve Croudson to Bristol Rovers for 16K. Croudson had recently recovered from an injury, but lost his starting role to Dean Delaney. Also leaving AFC is forward Aren Wilford, who was sold to Farnborough for 6K. Arriving at Orient is lefback Peter Watson, who was acquired from Nottingham Forest for 20K. Watson will likely move directly into the lineup.

DC- Croudson cost too much to be backup keeper, so I was glad to allow his salary to be paid elsewhere. Same went for Wilford. Watson looks like a really good leftback, so I am very pleased to add him.

***

23.10.10

AFC Wimbledon (4) Telford (0)

AFC- M.Vaughan 8,85 G.Hardy 15 T.Shields 18

Telford- None

MOM- Mark Vaughan, AFC Wimbledon

AFC was ready to go and jumped on visiting Telford early as they scored three early goals enroute to a convincing 4-0 win. Newcomer Peter Watson made a big difference early as he had a hand in the first three goals. Watson's throw in allowed Anthony Hogg to break down the left side. Hogg launched a cross into the center and Vaughan outleaped Carl Moore to deflect it past Andy Woods. Watson's pass then found Gary Hardy free in the area and Hardy whistled a shot past Woods inside the far, right post for his 5th goal of the season. Watson then found Shields lurking outside the area and Shields smashed a 25 yard shot past Woods. Vaughan scored the lone goal of the second half as he picked up a rebound and swept it in after Woods had blocked away Jim Corbett's initial blast.

DC- A very good win for us, especially since the squad is showing signs of fitting together very nicely. We played a strong overall match- one of the best since coming here.

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Emailed him just to say hello from an Orient fan in an unlikely place icon_smile.gif

***

DC- Just as Chris Doughty finally shed his suspension and was ready to make his debut- he rips up his groin and after surgery will be out for a total of three months. So much for our transfer purchase of him helping us anytime soon.

***

30.10.10

Gainsborough (0) AFC Wimbledon (3) FA Cup 4th round qualifier

Gainsborough- None

AFC- P.Richardson 7 C.Martin 21 D.Woozley 81

MOM- Peter Richardson, AFC Wimbledon

AFC Wimbledon brought up two players from their under-19 side and they made the difference as AFC will move on to the first round of FA Cup competition thanks to the 3-0 win over nonleague side Gainsborough. Peter Richardson and Chris Martin are testament to the developing AFC youth program. Richardson scored in his senior debut when he deflected a sharp cross from Pagguy Zunda past Richard Barnard inside the left post. Martin, who had triggered the first goal with his long pass to Zunda, then showed some skills of his own when he knocked a header past Barnard on a cross from Peter Wilkinson. Gainsborough tried to rally in the second half, but Lee Brough made a handful of solid saves to keep them off the board. David Woozley scored his 1st ever AFC goal when he deflected a Wilkinson free kick past Barnard to finish off the 3-0 win.

DC- Very encouraging debuts for Richardson and Martin. Some of the answers for our future may lie with these two and they will now stay with the senior side for some additional exposure.

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3.11.10

Barnet (1) AFC Wimbledon (0)

Barnet- B.Strevens 64

AFC- None

MOM- Darren Freeman, Barnet

One botched play ruined what had been a good effort for AFC as they fell 1-0 to Barnet at Underhill. AFC played a solid first half and had the better chances in it. Matt Forbes made key saves on Mark Vaughan and Anthony Hogg to keep things scoreless at half. The second half started the same way with Forbes leaping and grabbing a header from Gary Hardy. Barnet scored the lone goal of the match when Peter Whalen flicked a header to Lewis Peacock. Peacock pushed the ball into the middle at the edge of the area and Stephen Green and Steve Harvey both reacted slowly- too slowly. Ben Strevens swooped in and fired a shot past Dean Delaney inside the left post. AFC tried to rally, but led by Darren Freeman, the Barnet backline ably supported Forbes and they finished out the close 1-0 AFC loss.

DC- Young players make mistakes, and that is what happened on the goal. Hopefully, I can turn this into a good educational lesson and not have a 'blame game' situation.

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6.11.10

AFC Wimbledon (2) Scunthorpe (0)

AFC- P.Richardson 47 M.Vaughan 69

Scunthorpe- None

MOM- Jim Corbett, AFC Wimbledon

AFC continued to demonstrate their very real improvement this season as they knocked a 1st place club out of 1st for the second time this season. AFC used two second half goals as the margin for their 2-0 win. A throw in early in the second half led to AFC's first goal. Jim Corbett was given too much space and Paul Dunn lofted a throw to him. Corbett broke in on the right and made a measured cross that Peter Richardson headed into the right corner of the net. Anthony Hogg keyed the second goal as he ran past two defenders before passing into the center. Mark Vaughan, despite laboring with a twisted ankle, was first to the ball and slid it underneath a diving Stuart McDonald to help AFC clinch the match.

DC- Peter Richardson sure appears to be the real thing- he played well again today. Chris Martin also played well again today, both seem very promising players.

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9.11.10

Kettering (0) AFC Wimbledon (2)

Kettering- None

AFC- P.Richardson 62,73

MOM- Peter Richardson, AFC Wimbledon

Young phenom Peter Richardson continued to show why he has earned a starting spot as he led AFC to a 2-0 road win over 20th place Kettering. Kettering keeper Neil Miller had kept the match scoreless at halftime as he made a dazzling stop on Gary Hardy in the first half. AFC also missed several good chances well wide of the net. Dean Delaney made a good save on Gary Hamilton to open the second half. Richardson then stepped up to contribute. Anthony Hogg sent a ball to the right and defender David Alexander missed it as it skidded to the right side. Richardson was there first and blasted a low shot past Miller to give AFC the lead. Tim Osborne intercepted a Miller clearing kick and headed a long, looping ball to Richardson. Richardson pivoted, made a quick move past Simon Ramsden, and rifled a 20 yard shot past Miller inside the right post for his 2nd goal of the match. AFC closed out the 2-0 win with a solid defensive effort.

DC- Richardson is something. I thought he might be Ok when he arrived in the youth program- but his 2nd goal today demonstrates a world of potential. He seems to be very good.

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13.11.10

AFC Wimbledon (1) Peterborough (1) FA Cup 1st round

AFC- A.Holt 59

Peterborough- C.Murray 68

MOM- Mark Tyler, Peterborough

It was a match that AFC deserved to win, but thanks to Mark Tyler and some bad luck on the woodwork around the goal- AFC only managed a 1-1 draw which will mean a replay. AFC created some excellent scoring chances, but Tyler made some phenomenal saves. AFC had several times where Tyler parried away a shot and they just couldn't reach the rebound as it lay in front of the net. Twice they looked certain to score, but both Gary Hardy and Mark Kerr hit the posts squarely with shots- and they bounced away. AFC finally broke through when Andrew Holt snuck in on the far corner to deflect a Paul Wilkinson corner past Tyler. Peterborough answered when Adam Virgo put a strong header on a Paul Hill free kick. Dean Delaney parried the effort, but the ball bounced to Chris Murray and he pushed the rebound past Delaney to make the score 1-1. Neither side could gain the deciding goal, so the two sides will meet again.

DC- So many chances to win this one- but we just were a halfstep slow to the ball. It was still an awfully good effort against a solid Division 3 squad.

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20.11.10

AFC Wimbledon (3) Exeter (0)

AFC- R.Neville 4 J.Corbett 63 P.Richardson 88

Exeter- None

MOM- Jim Corbett, AFC Wimbledon

AFC demonstrated again that the improvements are real as they defeated 2nd place Exeter 3-0 at The Fans' Stadium. AFC grabbed the early lead when Richard Neville soared above Matthew Hutchinson and deflected Jim Corbett's corner past James Birchall. Birchall played well and his work kept the AFC margin from being worse at half. Gary Hardy made a superb decision when he picked up a loose ball and then chipped it past the defender to find Corbett alone at the edge of the area. Corbett made a quick move with the ball then rocketed it past Birchall inside the far left post. AFC put the match away when Birchall made a sensational save on Hardy, but Peter Richardson was right there to drive the shot in for his 5th goal of the season that made the final margin 3-0.

DC- Excellent work from everyone in this win. They struggled to move the ball against us.

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24.11.10

Peterborough (3) AFC Wimbledon (0) FA Cup 1st round replay

Peterborough- C.Murray 20 D.Howell 77-P A.Miller 78

AFC- None

MOM- Bradley Thomas, Peterborough

AFC was out of magic in their replay against Peterborough and fell 3-0 to wash out of FA Cup play. Peterborough took the first half lead when Chris Murray whisked a rebound home after Dean Delaney had made two stops on other close-in shots. AFC didn't show much offensively today and the match was close to clinched for the home side when Peter Wilkinson was whistled for sliding into Chris Bishop in the area. Danny Howell converted the penalty kick for his 1st goal at Peterborough. Peterborough then capped the match when a nice pass from Bradley Thomas allowed Andy Miller to lob a ball over Delaney to finish the scoring in the 3-0 win by Peterborough.

DC- We got the result that was deserved- since we didn't play well at all in the match. There were some good efforts though- young Paul Wilkinson played well again.

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27.11.10

AFC Wimbledon (3) Hayes (0)

AFC- P.Richardson 6 G.Hardy 18 J.Corbett 31

Hayes- None

MOM- Peter Richardson, AFC Wimbledon

Peter Richardson continues to be a Godsend for AFC Wimbledon, as he and skipper Gary Hardy give them a formidable tandem up front. This match was a mini-milestone, as it marked the 2nd match that wingers Mark Peers and Jim Corbett had played together since their purchase last season. With both of them in the match stretching the wings, the AFC fullbacks were zinging crossing passes that continually broke down the Hayes defense. Peter Richardson scored the first goal after Mark Peers made a neat pass that broke him free and he smashed a ball inside the near left post past Richard McKinney. The same combination repeated itself with different results for the 2nd AFC goal. This time McKinney parried Richardson's low blast, but Hardy smashed a shot that just got past McKinney. Jim Corbett made it 3-0 when Paul Dunn found him with a 45 yard pass and McKinney stopped his first shot- but couldn't stop the rebound shot by Corbett inside the far left post. The score could have been much worse as Hardy missed a penalty kick late in the first half after Richardson was pulled down by Wayne Gray and Richardson crushed a shot from the edge of the area- only to see it bounce back just as hard off the crossbar. The second half went quietly as AFC was content to move the ball around more and Hayes just didn't have the ability to mount a comeback.

DC- A really fine effort and there were lots of signs that the club we have right now is meshing together very well.

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