FA CUP SPE­CIAL

The Non-League Football Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By SAM EL­LIOTT

OK, it wasn’t the full mid­dle fin­ger to the TV ex­ecs who shunned Sut­ton United in favour of rat­ings chas­ing, but for edge-of-your seat ten­sion there was enough con­clu­sive proof to con­vict the BBC and BT Sport of dropping the ball.

Goal­less per­haps, but with Manch­ester City’s white­wash of West Ham and Manch­ester United’s romp over Read­ing pre­ced­ing it boast­ing less ro­mance than an EastEn­ders Christ­mas spe­cial, the live game pick­ers clearly missed a trick.

It’s not about the money of course, but the ex­tra £147,500 each for one of the six lu­cra­tive slots would have come in rather handy.

Sut­ton cer­tainly went for it, al­though Wim­ble­don were left curs­ing the hands of the goal­keeper they ditched af­ter get­ting stuck in traf­fic. The Dons yes­ter­day just didn’t get out of sec­ond gear.

They live to fight an­other day though, but they could have snatched a last­minute win­ner when de­fender Paul Robin­son’s header in a fi­nal flurry was well kept out by Ross Worner.

His Wim­ble­don ca­reer was on the road to nowhere from the moment a Fri­day night Lon­don stand­still pre­vented him from get­ting to the club’s 2013 first round tie with Coven­try on time. Make no mis­take, Worner’s new side are still very much go­ing strong. Paul Doswell’s coun­ter­part Neal Ard­ley at a long-since sold out Gan­der Green Lane would have bit­ten your hand off for this sit­u­a­tion be­fore kick-off. The Na­tional League team should have gone through and Doswell said: “Why didn’t they put this on TV? It may have been 0-0 but it was a great 0-0. The FA Cup isn’t about the big boys v the big boys. “I thought we had the two best chances of the game and we re­stricted them to very lit­tle. “I’ve said to the play­ers that they couldn’t have done any more and there’s no way they should think oth­er­wise – we were the ones who looked like a League One club.

“They will be the favourites and if we are go­ing to go through still then we will need to im­prove our away form, that’s for sure. But don’t count us out. The FA Cup needs a big shock and we can still be the ones to pro­vide it.”

The hosts had the bet­ter chances and they both fell to French striker Max Bi­amou. In the first half he some­how failed to find the tar­get when clean through and in the open­ing stages of the sec­ond he made James Shea work with a great save low down.

Yes, it wasn’t an end-to-end Cup tie but what we didn’t get in cre­ative chances was made up for in en­ergy, ag­gres­sion and full-blooded pas­sion.

Ard­ley too was sad­dened the game didn’t make the se­lec­tor’s cut and ac­cepted he would have taken a draw.

Wary about play­ing on 3G, his lack of ur­gency to bring on a striker to chase vic­tory was ev­i­dence enough Wim­ble­don were happy to take the 0-0 and run back across south west Lon­don.

“If you would have asked me be­fore the game if I would have taken that I prob­a­bly would say yes,” he said. “We had con­cerns about the pitch. It is an ad­van­tage, and Sut­ton’s record on it over the past 18 months tells you ev­ery­thing about how dif­fi­cult it is to come here and win.”

The Dons boss knew Sut­ton had the bet­ter chances but in­sisted his team should have had a late penalty when cap­tain Barry Fuller was felled in the box by Us sub Bradley Hud­son-Odoi.

“It was, 100 per cent,” he said, in con­trast to Sut­ton man­ager Paul Doswell, who be­lieves ref­eree Keith Stroud got it right hav­ing been shown a re­ply af­ter.

“But maybe the draw was right, we’ll take it and go back to Kingsmeadow know­ing the job is far from done.”

STAR MAN: Kevin Amankwaah (Sut­ton)

ATT: 5,013

EN­TER­TAIN­MENT: ★★★★★

REF­EREE: Keith Stroud 8/10

PIC­TURES: Action Images

PUMPED UP TO THE MAX: Maxime Bi­amou threat­ens the Wim­ble­don goal. In­set: Sut­ton’s Bed­sente Gomis and Wim­ble­don’s Jake Reeves tus­sle for the ball

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