A forgettable first half; a second half I can’t quite remember! Wimbledon’s incredible comeback will take its place in folk-lore. The three goals in three minutes unlikely to be seen ever again, writes the Wizard of Oz.
It didn’t start out so well: a free kick to Cheltenham, too far out for danger, easy to deal with. The long cross comes in, Ross Worner goes back and then stops, Troy Brown, unmarked, heads home. Déjà vu.
Cheltenham’s opener brought back memories of the worst of our first season back in the Football League. Too easy, so preventable.
It could have been worse a few minutes later when a string of Wimbledon players lost every physical challenge and Jermaine McGlashan had a great chance to score. It got a whole lot worse early in the second half when Byron Harrison coolly set up McGlashan for what seemed to be the killer blow.
Neal Ardley had said in the matchday programme notes that Wimbledon have problems with direct, physical sides and Cheltenham was a very physical side. Their centre backs were built like shipping containers: big, broad and very hard.
Wimbledon didn’t do themselves any favours by lumping the ball up in the air in the hope that Jack Midson and Charlie Wyke might do something.
Wimbledon, with a radical 4-4-2 lineup, took 20 minutes to have a shot on goal, only for George Francomb’s free kick to go over the bar.
It took almost half an hour for Wimbledon to begin to pass the ball to each other. When they did they began to make chances: Sammy Moore just wide after good work from Barry Fuller and Wyke, and then Peter Sweeney butchered a headed chance from a cross from the impressive Fuller.
The ponderous, ineffective Sweeney was hooked at half-time, replaced by young Jake Nicholson. It was a bold move by Ardley.
Nicholson is so slight he looks like a ball boy; he looked quite out-of-place in a man’s game. Looks can deceive: he offered the one thing that Wimbledon lacked in the first half, the ability to put his foot on the ball, to play a simple pass.
Wimbledon conceded the second goal and had nervous fans in the stands listening out for the scores of the teams below them. Anxious minds were turning towards relegation’s trap door.
Wimbledon, two goals down, had nothing to lose. With Chris Arthur and Danny Hylton now on, Ardley reached down and picked up a bottle, gave it a rub and was granted three wishes.
Hylton, from close in; Nicholson, a deflected shot; Hylton again when he seemed to have taken too long. Three goals in three minutes! We hardly had time to sit down when we were leaping in the air again. Cheltenham’s tough shipping containers were now all at sea.
Byron Harrison unsportingly brought us back to Earth when, given far too much room in the penalty area, he passed to Jason Taylor who beat Worner a little too easily.
As the 90 minutes ran to a close I thought 3-3 a fair result, both sides had contributed to an epic encounter but when six minutes for time added on was indicated we all knew there was another goal in it. Thank goodness it was Wimbledon who got it!
In the dying seconds Midson turned home the winner and the stadium went bananas. Twitter went in to meltdown. The bars did a roaring trade.
Defensively, we were poor but you couldn’t fault the second-half effort by the whole team. Midson and Wyke worked hard all game, Hylton will be delighted with his goals, Sammy Moore never stopped battling.
But for me Francomb and Fuller were our best throughout the 90 minutes with Fuller my MoM.
Read more views on the WDSA match thread.