On a pleasant night, at a superb albeit near empty stadium, the Wimbledon faithful turned up in numbers for this largely meaningless cup-tie. On a playing surface you could eat your dinner off the new Wimbledon rolled out their modern passing possession game.
Their first sequence contained more consecutive passes then than they strung together at any time last season. All well and good; the Millwalls were suitably impressed “Wimbledon, playing football!”
It was though, football largely played in their own half, the ball confidently and calmly moved along the back line with willing midfielders Sweeney, Pell and Moore constantly available for the ball. Sheringham was a lone figure up front with Francomb and Porter sitting deep and wide. The same tactical line-up as against the Franchise but without the venom.
The Millwall fans were getting impatient, wanting the ball moved forward quicker, especially wide left where Wimbledon were being exposed on their right.
Worner impressed with sure handling and Bennett and Frampton were decisive muscle in the air – a big improvement on last year. Worner produced a couple of saves, one a real cracker, but it was Wimbledon who finished the half the stronger with a flurry of corners from Sweeney causing all sorts of problems for the Millwall keeper.
At half-time, waiting patiently in the quite impressive modern latrines, an old guy walked in, older even than the Wizard, and asked did anyone want to play in goal? We laughed at the hapless Millwall keeper but didn’t realise he was talking about Worner.
Millwall missed a great chance early in the second half but Wimbledon seemed to be coping calmly until calamity struck in the 51st minute. Unimpressively trying to keep possession in defence, Wimbledon’s passing was too loose, each pass to the next player worse than the previous one.
The last was well wide of Worner and as he desperately scrambled to stop the ball going for a corner, a great big sinkhole swallowed him up. Or so it seemed.
As he disappeared from view he threw the ball up in the air. For which Millwall were truly thankful especially Keogh who gleefully tucked the ball home into the empty net. It was a horrible moment exposing all the wounds of last year. The cast has changed but the script as yet is the same.
Wimbledon finally went forward and Sheringham had a header saved from a Sweeney corner. Midson and Arthur came on and Wimbledon opened up with better attacking football.
But it was Millwall who scored next, poor defending again as Easter out-wrestled the Wimbledon defender, not sure if it was Kennedy or Bennett, and his deflected cross fell kindly at the back post for Woolford.
@markbuzwell apart from the awful goal the keeper played pretty well I thought. Agree about Midson. We looked much better when he came on
— Stephen Adams (@StephenJAdams) August 7, 2013
Wimbledon rallied and in the closing minutes Millwall fell asleep and Luke Moore’s excellent finish lifted the Dons for a last rally. Sammy Moore shot wide and Midson brought a real save from the keeper but it was not to be.
In a game which both teams seemed to treat almost as a practice match the pace was never exhilarating. Wimbledon had some good moments but most of the game was in their own half and they were flattered by the scoreline.
I thought Bennett was the best of the defenders, Sammy Moore was industrious as ever but my MoM was the always involved Harry Pell.