Football’s Wimbledon Dons played the Dons of Huelva in the inaugural Portimão Cup at the Portimonense Stadium recently. But anyone expecting to see the Wimbledon of old would have been surprised at what they saw. Now re-named the MK Dons, in an all white strip instead of all blue and playing football on the ground instead of ballooning balls from the ‘keeper’ to the forwards, they were the opposite of what you would have expected.
The Resident spoke exclusively to the team’s physio, Tony Flynn, who explained that the team are far more settled now in Milton Keynes, where the people have really taken them to their hearts. The squad of 22 players have all been back in training since July 1, and are looking forward to the new season. “We see this tournament as a good test of our fitness and organisation,” he said.
Despite the match starting at 5.30pm, with the afternoon heat still baking the stadium, it was a very lively first half, with play flowing quickly from end to end. There was not much in the way of goal chances and only MK Dons’ number six, Ben Harding, looked like scoring, with two excellent strikes, one with each foot and both from a distance. Good defensive displays from the likes of Dean (Lewi) Lewington kept the Spaniards out and reduced them to speculative shots from very long range. The teams went in for a well-earned half time break and, surprisingly, the MK Dons came out for the second half having made only one substitution.
Huelva started the second half well and looked like scoring on two or three occasions, but it was the MK Dons who finally broke the deadlock on 55 minutes, when number 10 Gary Smith scored from 20 yards with a fabulous right foot strike. MK Dons then had most of the play, but were a little guilty of ball watching on more than one occasion and let Huelva through on scoring chances, which they squandered. After 74 minutes Huelva managed to equalise with a fumbled chance that the English team should really have defended better. This spurred the MK Dons back into life and three minutes later they had re-established the lead with a superb header from number seven Malvin Kamara. The game finished 2-1 to the MK Dons and they looked forward to the final on Sunday evening.