WIFC traveled down to South-West London on a cold November morning in 2006, for an IFA Cup first round match with AFC Wimbledon, little knowing that one of the most gripping ties in their history was about to unfold.
With the sun sitting low on the horizon, causing many a problem for both sides, Richard Murphy put WIFC 1-0 up when good work from Laurence Wells resulted in him stabbing the ball towards goal, the keeper saving but pushing out the ball to Murphy who tucked the ball home. However, as proved the case with every WIFC goal, Wimbledon pulled level within minutes with a finish from the top drawer, right into Darren Sear‘s top left corner, giving him no chance.
It was another Lozza/Murph combination again that put WIFC in front again, this time Murphy had far more to do at the far post but still drilled his shot home. But once again, Wimbledon ensured they were not going to lie down easily and pulled level with a long ball which was lifted over the onrushing Sear to finish into an open net.
In the second half WIFC moved ahead once again, this time some neat work from Scott Mathers resulted in a low driven cross, neatly dummied by Martin Pollard for a simple finish at the far post from Rob Sterry. Amazingly Wimbledon draw level again within minutes, with Sear saving a clearly offside volley but not being able to prevent the ball looping up and over the line.
The pint-sized striker again pushed us ahead with a carbon copy of Wimbledon’s second goal, before we hit the self-destruct for the fourth time and allowed a simple finish to a cross from our left flank. We had our chances to finish the game off before 90 minutes, but failed to find a killer goal, upon which we entered the dreaded penalty shoot out.
Each side stepped up and provided a finish at each opportunity, and slowly the job of taker moved through the squad. Once the first five takers for both teams had scored, we went into sudden death. Those players that hadn’t fancied an earlier kick were suddenly thrust into the limelight. Having suffered a double penalty humiliation in the past, Martin Pollard looked on nervously. When it came to the tenth kick, Polly suffered the long walk up, placed the ball down and then 4 years worth of weight was lifted off his shoulders as the ball nestled into the back of the net.
It was now up to Daz Sear. Dressed all in green and having been christened as the flying pea by onlookers, a save from Daz woul help him avoid having to take the 11th kick, and he was up against the player who had stuck it in the top corner the first half. But this was the time our luck was in, with the kick being driven high over the bar and we were through.
A great game of football for the neutral, although one that had many hearts in the mouths of all that made the trip down to Wimbledon.
Team. 4-4-2, R to L. Daz Sear; Tony Buckoke, Scott Mathers, Julian Carerra, Paul Whittenbury; Rich Murphy, Russ Rapstone, Chris Westcott, Lozza Wells; Martin Pollard, Rob Sterry. Subs Warren Flanagan for Russ. Dave Messenger, Simon Neill, Paul Karlsen, John Akers and Mat Ball not used.