CONDITIONS were terrific for good football at Kingsmeadow –- cool, dry and without wind, a packed and vocal stadium and a perfect playing surface – and Wimbledon’s football was good and the performance simply terrific, writes The Wizard of Oz.
Kaid ‘Mo” Mohamed started for Wimbledon; David Connolly and Patrick Agyemang were at the kick-off for Portsmouth. The ground announcer went out of his way to welcome back the two former Dons players. Connolly responded warmly by returning the applause of the crowd, Agyemang ignored them. Agyemang last barely half an hour, giving us just one Wu Tang blockbusting run, before trudging off. Connolly may as well have joined him so ineffective was he.
Wimbledon went in at half-time a goal to the good, with a penalty miss and a disallowed goal marking their superiority. Portsmouth had one weak attempt; Ross Worner completely untroubled.
Portsmouth conceded the penalty when the impressive Mohamed was too quick for goalkeeper Trevor Carson, who pulled him down. Harry Pell confidently snatched the ball, his team-mates laughing and high-fiving. Pell, who whacks the ball so hard from 30 metres out that it threatens to rip the net from its fastenings, for some reason didn’t use his whacking howitzer. Instead his feeble attempt was easily saved by the keeper.
The goal came after great work by the irrepressible Michael Smith, who hopefully chased a hopeless cause and forced the centre-back Bondz N’Gala into a careless error, slicing his kick and conceding a corner from thirty yards away from goal.
Kennedy’s corner was cleared but the ball was played back to him and this time the wicked curving far post ball was met by Mohammed whose attempt at a shot became a knock back inside to Frampton who lashed the ball home. The crowd went wild, it was no more than Wimbledon’s first-half play had deserved, and sang “You’re not singing any more” to the 800 or so Pompey fans. “
The disallowed goal was right out of the John Fashanualmanac: a free kick from Kennedy, right on the money, the keeper under enormous pressure from the Wimbledon attackers, spills the ball and it is bundled home but this is not the Fash the Bash era of football and the referee disallows it. The goalkeeper gingerly got to his feet, as dented and bruised as a crinkle cut chip, and had difficulty standing straight for the rest of the half. Vintage Wimbledon!
Wimbledon started the second half brightly; Pell ran through and fed George Porter whose fierce cross-cum-shot was inches away from a goal for Smith but then slowly Wimbledon began to sit back, began to protect their slim lead.
A 1-0 lead is precarious and the crowd became restless and nervous as Portsmouth began to play their best football of the game and had more play in Wimbledon’s half of the pitch.
The lively left-winger Andy Barcham cut inside and shot, well wide, but a hint of what was to come as minutes later Wimbledon defenders somehow didn’t deal with a far post cross and this time he jinked outside and fired a fierce shot which Worner saved but could not hold. The ball deflected off the outside of the post to safety.
It was the turning point of the second half as Wimbledon, with Neal Ardley warming up his subs, pushed Portsmouth back down their end, the Eco whatever end.
Twice Wimbledon came close and then Frampton emphatically headed home Kennedy’s corner to take the game away from Pompey. Two-goal hero Frampton even found time to head the ball past Worner but fortunately he could not beat the post, and for the second time in the match the ball ran to safety.
Luke Moore came on for the tired and now ineffective Peter Sweeney and Wimbledon went for the kill.
Two spectacular goals followed – as good as you will see all season. Kennedy cleverly found Smith down the left. The willing big man, all on his own, took on the defence and his shot was deflected high in the air to the edge of the penalty area where Sammy Moore was waiting.
Moore took one touch and then blasted a superb volley over the keeper and into the back of the net. The crowd erupted again, Portsmouth fans began to drift away from the ground, the players mobbed Sammy.
Then came a moment of magic from Ross Worner, the keeper who is rapidly becoming yet another cult figure at the ‘Meadow.
As a Portsmouth attack fizzled out it seemed as if the defenders would clear the ball but Worner called for it. As it came to him he flicked it up with his left foot, juggled one, twice and on the third attempt volleyed the clearance downfield. The crowd loved it but loved it even more when Pell headed the ball on and Smith, holding, holding, holding off the defender, crashed the ball into the top right corner.
“Are you watching, are you watching, are you watching Fratton Park?” sang the crowd in cheeky derisive delight to those ticketless Pompey fans watching the game beamed live into their home ground.
Kaid Mohamed left the field with five minutes left to a generous round of applause from the crowd, George Francomb took his place.
So much of the power of their football reminded of the Wimbledon side that raced through the divisions in the seventies; apart from a 20-minute period when they allowed Pompey time to play, they dominated the game.
Sammy Moore was the official MoM and deservedly so: his goal was the icing on the cake of a typically fearless and tireless, inspiring effort. Frampton, intelligent in defence, ran him close with the two goals. All the defenders played well; Kaid Mohamed was lively and direct on his return; Smith gave Portsmouth problems all afternoon, but this was an outstanding team effort by a group of players who were willing and confident today.
The Dons are back and the season looks most promising.
Read more in the WDSA match thread.