As I seen it - Wimbledon

RUNNING MONKEY watched the revival continue

League 2 - at the Vic - POOLS 3  AFC Wimbledon 1

Tuesday night footy looked to be a good attraction for the Pools fans as the turn out was 3600 with a good smattering of Dons fans on show. The Ditchburn Poolie rumbled into town, or should I say grumbled, as he chuntered on about last Saturdays win, quoting statistics. As I half listened I was glad I only had an old mobile that would not give me statistics. 

The Ditchburn is big on stats and the argument was how could Pools have possibly have had 49% of the game. I said 'we got three points, what is the problem?' He went on about how he never thought his team would be a 'win ugly' style team. I told him to go for a walk along the pier - all that fresh country air had addled his brain. He eventually snapped out of his stupor and announced that he had no idea who tonight’s ref was, and he did not give a bugger. This was unusual for the Ditchburn, who is usually full of information on the man in the middle. I said I did not give a chuff, and after last weekend’s shenanigans it was just as well. I spoke to a local Poolie who is very big in Hartlepool sporting circles, especially in the referee realms and he said he wished he could go into the Pools dressing room and talk to the players on how to handle a ref during a game. A good idea I thought - it may stop us ramping up the coloured cards like we do."Wimbledon teams have never been a shy bunch and once again the big lads were all in the opposition team"

Enough of the pre-match entertainment on with the show. And what a show it turned out to be. The ref this week must have been father to Luke James - well for the first twenty minutes anyway, as he got three free kicks in no time after being manhandled by centre backs. Wimbledon teams have never been a shy bunch and once again the big lads were all in the opposition team. They looked a good side despite some around me claiming they were nowt to beat. They had the ball in the net early doors with a good skilful move involving four players but luckily for Pools one of them was offside as the ball was struck. Smith the ex-Darlo player on loan from Charlton looked a handful; he was quick and slick but Burgess and Baldwin were up to the task and marshalled him very well throughout the game.

Pools were under pressure for a good spell and once again the panic set in as the ball kept coming back in and a foul by Monky gave them a free kick on the edge of the box. Ned made a great punch to clear but the ball was hit straight back in and Aussie was there to clear it. The scoreboard clock, which looked as it was going backwards, read sixty minutes after what was about half an hour. We had taken the sting out of them and started to get into the game a bit more.

A cracking speculative shot from Dolan was palmed away. Pools were attacking well down the flanks and a ball in to the box from Luke found Poole who wa,s chopped down, and Luke’s dad duly awarded a penalty. An audible intake of breath could be heard over the Vic as Walton took charge of the ball, but I am glad to report you will not see a better-taken penalty as he hit Pools into the lead.

Wimbledon came straight back at us and were pushing us hard for the equaliser. Ned was on his game and he had to be. Monky took another card after lashing out when losing the ball so he is racking up the points. Smith for the Dons had a free header from a corner but it flew into Morrison’s. Baldwin who was named Man of the Match nutmegged his marker and set Duckworth off on a great run but he was outnumbered and lost the ball in the box as half time was called.

Wimbledon restarted brighter than Pools and kept us pinned back for a long period and again the ball was just humped away with no direction. You have to give the Dons some credit as they do play good quick football and work very hard backing each other up. We had very few chances to break out but Luke and Duckworth have speed to burn and Luke charging in from the left just failed to reach a cross from Poole.

The Dons were really pushing us hard and the break came for them after a tackle from Monky gave them a penalty which had Ned going the wrong way, so one all it was. The Dons were really pressing and the Ditchburn was getting anxious, having to visit the little boys room more than usual. It has to be said in this column that Simon Walton had a 'DECENT' game. Not a spotless performance but decent. He made the second goal with a lovely ball in that had Luke licking his lips as he rose like a salmon and headed over the keeper for Pools, despite being under pressure, to go two - one up.

I have not seen the goal again as I write this but the replay will show you what a special player we have in young Luke. Long may he reign. The shocked Dons were still battling and we again had to defend in numbers to keep them at bay. What I deduce with the help of the Ditchburn is that we are playing an away system at home by hitting them on the break. If it works then go for it - tire them out letting them do all the running and hit them for six when you get the right ball. That is exactly what we did this time; Duckworth, who was still running strong, cut back and laid a ball on for Dolan, who hit a belter that scraped the right hand post, leaving the keeper gasping for air to make it three one to the Hartlepool.

It was all over bar the cheering as the four extra minutes were played out.
It was good to see a great number of Poolies give the team the applause they deserved, which lasted a full five minutes after the final whistle. This was a team performance, with outstanding players once again the centre-back pairing of Baldwin and Burgess, who I hope we can keep after hearing the clouds of Mordor are descending on the whole of Teesside after Mogga was sacked on Sunday. The black flags are hanging at half-mast throughout the Borer but I fail to see how they have not seen it coming for some time.

Duckworth and Aussie need a mention too but the lad Luke is playing out of his skin now; he looks fit and is getting the service, ball to feet, but he does win a fair share of headers and he won a special one tonight. I also owe an apology to the management team having won six on the trot but the early form brought out the worst in me and a lot of others in the ground. Nothing would please me more than to see them make a fist of this job