FA CUP SPECIAL
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)
REFEREE: Keith Stroud 8/10
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