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Iron Cross

And here ends our League Cup adventures for another season.

To be honest, Eddie Reynolds 1 Bobby Moore 3 was a bit of a harsh scoreline on us, although like Brentford last season – that’s what the record books will show.

And just like Coventry, Barnsley and Sunderland this campaign already, we just had that bit of luck against us again.

The takeaway from this game was how bloody hard we worked, especially when we went down to ten men for just about 80% of the game. Not quite on a par with Barnet having to play 88 minutes at Old Trafford, but close.

Sadly, McDonald was the one who blotted his – and our – copybook by losing his head early on, and probably cost us the game because of it.

Had we still had 11 on the pitch, then who knows? As it was, when you’re playing against a Premier League team who spent close to £100m this summer, you’re going to have your backs to the wall anyway.

Sadly, despite the best efforts of the remaining ten on the field, you just can’t hold out for that length of time. Mind you, when Little Peadick falls down at just the slightest touch…

You can review the game yourself, although Sky were reportedly very complimentary to us. Indeed, we’ve got all-round plaudits for our rear-guard action, which was one of the best I’ve seen from a Wimbledon side in some time.

Yes, we could go on about the lack of strike power again, but I don’t think it was quite the issue last night. We could have had Kedwell and Main back, and we would have still needed to hold out for virtually the whole game.

The upshot of last night is that nobody will remember it much beyond the next day or so. At the risk of sounding all cliched, we go again on Saturday at Burton – a much more important fixture.

But when the Carabao Cup draw is made this week, and you find out who we could have played, you’ll probably think what might have been…

Plus points: Excellent defensive performance. Three Academy products in the starting XI. Never seen us work so hard in a good while.

Minus points: We lost. Rod McDonald’s brainfart. Too much defending to do in the end.

The referee’s a…: We’ve really upset the referee’s union over the summer, haven’t we? I know McDonald lost his head, but did it really deserve two yellow cards at that stage? No wonder there were no English refs at the World Cup.

Them: Close to £100m spent on those players in the summer, and eventually it showed against a mid table L1 side playing with ten men. After all, they bought on a £40m signing from Lazio to help turn the game.

That said, I can see why they’re bottom of the Premier League without a point. I think if we’d been a top L1 side, or even a bog-standard Championship one, we’d be in the next round this morning.

Very quiet from them, not even much singing when they finally went ahead. Probably would have been a different story if they’d had 2000-3000 there instead. Bet they loved the view.

One thing that has struck me from this game is how very few people seem to like West Ham. I know we took the piss out of their transfer policy, and their taxpayer-funded new ground really gets on the collective tits.

But when you listen to what non-AFCW fans say as well, it’s an eye-opener. And it’s part of the re-education that we’re going through again.

Maybe it was the whole “Academy of Football” bollocks that was prevalent throughout the 1980s, or the conduct of their supporters (although to be fair, there were no reports of trouble last night). And their owners are a bit spivvy at the best of times.

But should they finish bottom this season, there will be a lot of people throughout the country laughing very loudly…

Point to ponder: Was it me or was the sub-4000 crowd just a bit disappointing?

I know some people are still away, there were problems trying to book online, there were some major issues with the M25, it was on telly (I know at least two stay-aways who were doing just that), and at the risk of sounding just a tad Billy Big Bollocks here – it was “only” the Carabao Cup.

But are we getting a bit complacent about playing such high-profile sides? It wouldn’t have been that long ago that even facing WHU kids in the LSC would have got the juices flowing.

Although maybe that’s not a bad thing after all. I have to admit that I didn’t think much of the game before I got the bus to KM (and some will argue I pay even less when I’m watching it). It seemed more “normal” as a result.

Playing West Ham and Sunderland in the space of four days is almost what we set up AFCW for again, and don’t forget that yesterday was a regular fixture about 16 years ago.

There is another factor, and that’s KM. I mention that because other people made note of it last night too. The queues for the bars especially, which to be fair weren’t quite so bad as they have been. Not that they couldn’t have got much worse.

It was telling that while there were still seats available, and I could move about the Chemflow a little easier last night, the Rypiss was the one where it looked relatively empty. That’s not an entire surprise, especially with the viewing alternative.

Perhaps there’s some sub-conscious, weird contempt for being there? It’s never been perfect, and it is what it is, but I can’t quite remember its faults being picked out as often as they are now. Even little things like having to change at Raynes Park to get the bus/train…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The “£100m” song. Genius. As is the Deji one to “Rhythm Is A Dancer” which got an airing in the JG. 2) The realisation that things calm down from now on. Somehow, I think we need it.

Anything else? The rumour mill suggested last night that Notts County asked us to approach NA. It got mentioned on the TV coverage as well, apparently, but Sky Sports News said earlier yesterday that they’ve also approached Crawley for Kewell.

County that is, not SSN. I don’t think they need another ex-footballer pundit at the moment.

I expect we’ll tell them to piss off, and unless there’s some seriously decent compensation package I guess our current manager will stay here. Leaving a mid-table L1 side for the club bottom of L2 would be a strange one, no matter how much you look at it.

But games like last night will have impressed any suitor, especially with the “£100k vs £100m” narrative. While I think going to Meadow Lane would be the wrong decision for him, I don’t doubt he remains ambitious.

He would have certainly jumped ship last campaign if the right offer had popped up, his demeanour gave that away. And even though he’s back on the right track again – has he gone as far as he can go with us now?

We’ve gone up that next stage in terms of paying more money for transfers, and while the whole “budget” bleating was deeply irritating, that and a major dose of pragmatism has made us a better side today.

However, as Paul Hurst proved, a decent season can work wonders for your future employment. Notts County may be the first to have made an enquiry, and they’re probably the wrong choice for NA right now.

But sooner or later, somebody else may not be…

So, was it worth it? £100,000 richer.

In a nutshell: Now for Burton. They beat Villa last night.