wizard imageHA HA! APRIL FOOL! It was the first of April and Wimbledon were the ones to suffer the cruel, self-inflicted joke, writes The Wizard of Oz.

As the ball was in the air — where it spent most of this game – Alan Bennett moved to challenge, it was his ball, but Will Antwi from behind loudly called it was his: Bennett left the ball and Antwi missed it.

Barnet moved the ball out to their right where Chris Hussey mis-controlled the ball and their winger Keanu Marsh-Brown raced away to beat John Sullivan, it seemed to take a deflection. It was the 85th minute; it was Barnet’s only meaningful shot on target the whole game.

After the coldest March for fifty years the blue skies and sunshine were welcome at Kingsmeadow but the wind was cold and blustery and made for very difficult conditions. The Kingsmeadow surface looking like a rather thread-worn carpet but at least it was dry.

In front of an impressive sell-out crowd players from both sides had difficulty with kicks and headers, and goal kicks often stopped in mid-flight. One clearance from Antwi, who had a decidedly shaky game, ended up behind him although that could well have been questionable technique as much as the wind.

Wimbledon, playing against the wind, ferociously launched themselves at Barnet in the opening minutes and did everything but score. Hussey was ripping them apart and Barnet was clinging on desperately. Stacy Long had a shot blocked, on another blocked attempt 4,000 fans appealed for a penalty but not the ref, Kevin Saint-Luce – much improved – was almost in.

Barnet couldn’t get out of their own half; Edgar Davids cut a forlorn figure standing alone on the centre circle. They relieved the siege by working out that the way to stop the unstoppable Hussey was to make him defend; they pushed him back with a stream of long balls down his side of defence.

The game became more even but still very scrappy with the wind playing havoc; Wimbledon were still on top, it was until half-an-hour in that Barnet had a shot which didn’t trouble Sullivan as it went over the top.

With the wind behind them in the second half the Dons absolutely dominated. Neal Ardley’s rugby-style tactics of kicking for touch, kicking for position and kicking over the defence for willing runners kept Barnet pinned down for long periods. KSL was superb, his pace and persistence causing all sorts of problems.

Chris Hussey for Dons
Chris Hussey .. Ripping them apart early before costly fumble near the end.

With one chase, after a pass from Antwi, KSL won a ball he should not have won, dinked past the full back and placed the ball in the goal mouth for Wimbledon to score but the attacker, I think it could have been Jesse Darko, lost his footing and the chance was gone.

On another attempt the keeper saved. There was another shout for a handball off a blocked shot but the referee indicated he thought it was ball to hand. Barnet were desperately hanging on.

Wimbledon then became victims to a first joke. MMK’s long throw was flicked on by Jack Midson and Hussey, steaming onto the ball at the edge of the area, slammed the ball into the back of the net. We all leapt to our feet but it was disallowed for, it seemed, a foul throw. A foul throw! Modern footballers never, ever, throw the ball properly; it was an absurd decision.

We still thought Wimbledon could win this, that Barnet could not hold out for ever and then came that mix up between Bennett and Antwi, and Hussey’s fumble. There was still time for Gary Alexander to have a header cleared off the line.

Wimbledon weren’t unlucky; dominating the game for long periods they really should have got something out of this. Clearly the fight at the bottom will continue to the very end of the season.

MoM was awarded to Jon Meades, who was one of the few to show skill, but I thought he was too slow in moving the ball. MMK and Bennett were solid at the back and Midson was a nuisance all game but I would give it to KSL who for 20 minutes scared the daylights out of Barnet.

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  1. Awful, awful, awful dead ball delivery all afternoon – and this was key to succeeding in the difficult weather conditions. When the odd one got off the ground no one got on the end of it – until Alexander’s injury time effort.

    Still carrying too many passengers in the team – Antwi, Pell and Darko, in particular, all having ‘shockers’.

    Typical that once again we gifted the opposition their goal (although there was a hell of a deflection on the final shot). Seventy-odd goals conceded and I wouldn’t be surprised if 75% of them were just abject defending.

    Not much to get excited about on the bench.

    NA continues to juggle his players on a tactics roundabout that alters from game to game. We are still unable to put eleven players on the pitch in their favoured position. Dickenson’s injury and subsequent return to BHA has seriously impacted on NA’s approach.

    A wasted opportunity against a very poor side – but then that’s unfortunately what we are, too.

    With our goal difference being as it is, four more points is the absolute minimum return we need.

    I just hope we can hold on…

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