FA Cup First Round: Fangirls and prehistoric football

FA Cup Round One

AFC Wimbledon 1-0 Lincoln City

Lyle Taylor edged AFC Wimbledon into the second round of the FA Cup, but after limping off in the 29th minute he cut a frustrated figure. The only goal scorer of the game spent the second half sitting with his family just a few rows in front of us. The big man watched on in disgust.

I attended the first round qualifying round of the FA Cup at Dulwich Hamlet in August, the first round proper showed little improvement in quality here. While Hamlet and Hastings United at least attempted possession football, the long-ball was a constant method of attack. In the words of Jose Mourinho, this was “pre-historic football”.

As a Blackburn fan whose team is now in the same league as AFC Wimbledon, I can’t figure out if the lack of dynamism on show in front of a crowd of 3,394 was reassuring or devastating. Either way, I can’t criticise too much because the Dons took all three points from Ewood Park only a matter of weeks ago.

After thumping in Wimbledon’s early goal, Taylor sat in the crowd below us looking dumbfounded by what he was witnessing. His dour mood mirrored that of the home crowd, who were understandably exasperated as their team defended deeply, and failed to capitalise on an early opener.

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Home fans became audibly frustrated as AFC Wimbledon struggled against so-called inferior opposition, Lincoln City

It was certainly unclear which team was a league apart from their opponents. Amid the chaos, a funny intermission in play involved older fans walking past Taylor and staring lovingly at him like a series of fangirls at a pop concert. In fairness, Taylor responded politely.

Wimbledon had very little outlet in the second half as they constantly resorted to long-ball tactics, attempting to feed off second balls. Lincoln had the same approach.

Their lone striker, Ollie Palmer, was a lumbering and unwieldy presence for the Wimbledon defence to handle, although they did so with relative ease. Darius Charles, in particular, dealt well with the physical presence of City’s number eight. And Callum Kennedy was another stand-out player as Wimbledon’s left-back.

When chasing the game, the Imps’ plan B going forward was basically just more of the same – pumping the ball up to another bumbling target man. Matt Rhead, Lincoln’s lump part deux, was at least more effective in the air and came close to hitting a late equaliser. But it wasn’t to be for last season’s surprise package. Lincoln was unfortunate not to force an equaliser, but the Dons held firm.

The last time I was at Kingsmeadow, Adebayo Akinfenwa was in beast mode, scoring two impressive goals against top-of-the-league Bury. After promotion to League One, in the early stages on Saturday it was evident that the quality on show had improved since then, if only marginally.

It’s a cracking football club, this. The place is full of characters and friendly faces. I’m already looking forward to sitting in the Rygas Stand for Blackburn’s away fixture in April. For Rovers’ sake, it would be helpful if Lyle Taylor was watching the action from the stands as well.

Chris Henderson

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