Fan’s View – AFC Wimbledon

Article by Paul Beasley Sunday, October 27th, 2013  


Given that I’ve got a bit fed up driving to away games and the enthusiasm for away trips of those I’ve travelled with in recent years has seen a marked decline, I chose for the second game in a row to use the LRC buses. This meant leaving the Kassam at 12:00.
The sign says “Welcome to Oxford United”. The rugby posts say otherwise.

Whenever I return from home games, usually disappointed to some degree, ranging from just a touch to thoroughly, I can’t wait to bang this stuff out because it has become a means of therapy. It’s probably the safest and healthiest way to let off steam.

But after a very satisfying and impressive performance such as we saw on Saturday I have to motivate myself to churn this out. In the interest of fairness and balance I must say that this is bang out of order. But let’s face it most of what is reported in the media is doom and gloom. Calls to Radio Oxford when we lose vastly outnumber those of a positive nature after a victory and any “News” programme on national TV should really be re-titled “Bad News” or even “Doom and Gloom” or possibly “We’re all F****d.”

So, if I’m allowed to ooze rather a lot of positivity I think I’ll do so now, with the rider of course that I may well change my mind next week.

As for the match itself, I was rather tempted to not bother and just make reference to the “Just back from the Wombles” report posted on the Yellows Forum by mg. I don’t disagree with a word he (assumption) said.

I don’t think there’s much point any more in trying to rate the opposition and coming up with stuff like, “we should be beating these” and “they’re good, I’d be happy with a draw” such is the nature of this league. Everything is much of a muchness and a sensible betting man would steer well clear of this tier of English football. There are absolutely no guaranteed easy games. Accrington may be bottom but they have won the last two. And what are Dagenham with a tiny budget doing just three points off the top?

The answer of course lies in the tightness at the top which unbelievably got even tighter after this last set of results. The points range from 1st to 13th is still 26-20 covering 13 teams but Portsmouth have a game in hand so in theory they too could have 20 points. Scunthorpe are a game behind which if won would take them onto the same number of points as those at the top. I can’t recall anything quite like this in all my football watching years.

But somehow within all this we have managed to sneak to the very summit. Do we deserve it? Well yes, why not? We’ve got the best goal difference, we’ve scored the most goals and we’ve got the joint best defence along with Scunny (them again) and Mansfield. Let’s enjoy it even if it may be short-lived and I’m saying that in a realistic, not pessimistic way.

I’m now going to contradict myself and refer to AFC’s home record which was pretty good going into the game. But the way we are playing no home record seems to scare us, other than perhaps our own.

We kept our shape throughout and our defensive display was, whilst not quite perfect, not that far off. Any half decent home side are bound to create a few chances. Michael Smith flashed a very good header just over the bar in the first half after George Porter had managed for once to get away down the right and deliver a quality cross. They looked more threatening when Kevin Sainte-Luce came on as he had a bit of pace and was more able to run into our box but he turned out to be nothing we couldn’t handle.

Ryan Clarke did everything required be it punching or saving athletically and bravely.

There’s definitely something of the old Wimbledon about AFC (and why wouldn’t there be?) with a lot of long ball. Smith is a tall ‘un and before the end he was joined by an even bigger giant. Michael Raynes won the battle against these guys; he might have been slightly shorter but he was the real giant. Jake Wright gets better, if that were possible. His reading of the game and the way he is able to gain possession and bring the ball a few yards forward before playing a simple pass to a colleague reminds me of Bobby Moore. (No don’t laugh). Wright can head a ball too.

Previously criticised, our full backs must be doing something right too as that’s four clean sheets in a row and they are 50% of the back four. I think they deserve credit and it is noticeable that David Hunt has improved although I do recall him getting the wrong side of the man he should have been marking on one occasion. But that’s being churlish as probably would be pointing out that Asa Hall made a few mistakes and that there was a short period in the second half when we were not keeping the ball as we should have been.

There are always a few groans when Hall’s name is read out as a starter but his contribution is often overlooked. Ok, he lost the ball a couple of times but it was his cross that made Beano’s goal and he worked hard, got a few tackles in, passed to other Oxford players more often than not.

Alongside him in midfield Andy Whing was back to his combative best as was Danny Rose. One sliding tackle he made just in front of the dugout summed up the effort and willingness to put bodies on the line throughout the side. Mistimed and he would have been off.

Up front Beano worked their back line hard and got rid of that “not scored from a header” monkey off our backs. I really hope Will Antwi had a good view as he rested his cheating arse on the Wimbledon bench.

Time to mention the referee? Dean Whitestone gave us five yellows at Crawley two seasons ago. This time he produced just one. It has to rank with the most rank of bookings ever. Tom Newey must have used up all of 5 seconds as he sized up where to place a free kick in the first half. Whitestone didn’t even issue a warning nor did he book countless others who took a similar amount of time making the play live again.

The terracing at Kingsmeadow is nonsensically shallow meaning that even many six footers have to stand on tip toe to get a semi-reasonable view of the pitch. The positioning of the dugouts and now the TV gantry is very unhelpful too. All very non league, which it is, but hey, it’s got character and a low roof which keeps the noise in. Which of course makes for an atmosphere. Likewise the yellow smoke bomb which obviously should not have been brought into the ground. I find it a bit strange that anyone would attempt to bring one into a football ground given what happened to one of our own at Plymouth and the arrests which followed the Poland game at Wembley.

A partially obscured pitch level view gives a very different perspective of the game than normal but I still think Sean Rigg deserved a penalty or two for being brought down in the box in the first half. That old question – why would he go to ground otherwise?

There were other decisions Whitehouse may have got wrong. Was Beano offside when he headed home? I didn’t even think about this at the time but it is fair to say it was questionable. TV pictures are inconclusive. I also though Dean Smalley gave the defender a little push before he won the penalty. Only a little one, but when running at speed that’s just enough to make a difference. Perhaps matters did on the day even themselves out.

To add to our work rate and organisation there was some creativity too. Ryan Williams was again tricky on the ball and at times used it to better effect than against Exeter. He’s young and still learning and if we can him to get his head up more often, play what looks to us in the stands the obvious pass, he should be a valuable asset whilst with us.

I particularly liked the way we managed the game for most of the second half. We used the space superbly when we broke and could have ended up with more than the two goals. I thought Smalley was instrumental in this and was overjoyed to note that he looked fit. Please may he stay that way and then I will happily admit I got it wrong when saying we should not have given him a second contract.

We’ve got a whole week to bask in the glory of being top but it could be very different a week from now as we’re back on our home turf next time out and we’re without our left back. Perhaps if Johnny Mullins is fit it will be three at the back again to solve a couple of problems with a more attacking option in Newey’s boots. I wait with interest.

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 27th, 2013 at 8:11 pm and appears under 2013, Comment, News Items. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

© Rage Online 1998 - 2024 All rights reserved. If you want to copy stuff, please quote the source

another fine mash from ox9encoding