There are games when you lose by this margin when there is a wailing and a gnashing of teeth, perhaps a reference to how you were robbed by this decision or that, or maybe an excuse or two. This is not one of them.
The facts are that we did not play too badly, but Wimbledon played as well as any team we have played for some years, particularly bearing in mind the cold, grey and thoroughly miserable conditions made for ‘sticking it up your jumper’. The hosts, however, made light of the constant drizzle and the puddles on the pitch, moving the ball via their impressive fly-half right and left, interspersed with little chip kicks.
Charlton Park were immediately put under pressure by a series of slick handling moves and constant recycling. Their defense held firm for most of the first half and Wimbledon had to be content with two simple penalty goals. Charlton had relatively few opportunities, although when they did they were unlucky to be penalized in the scrum, which was almost their only area of dominance.
The lead stretched just before half-time when Steve Laverie was yellow-carded and the home side drove over twice from line-outs. From then on Park tried to chase the game but made mistakes, where Wimbledon made none, and were ruthlessly punished for them. Two tries, one from Mark Harlow-Singh and a second a penalty try raised hopes but the home team continued to play with confidence and eventually Park’s defense was worn down. To their credit Charlton Park refused to give in, but Wimbledon’s tackling was as sharp as their handling.
The 3rd of January is a difficult day to play away at the league leaders but Park will bounce back. They lost Alan Knuckey through injury after about 15 minutes and there were several others limping by the end. Away supporters, of whom there were almost as many as home, were realistic – it was just one of those days!