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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear

Killjoys Wimbledon happy to play against type against outclassed non-leaguers Ramsgate

FA Cup second round: AFC Wimbledon 5-0 Ramsgate

It never feels right when AFC Wimbledon are cast as favourites in a cup tie. It just doesn't tally with that ages-old image of theirs - the gritty odds-defying bag of nuisance, born to upset the well-heeled.

Even when they were in the top flight they were underdogs. Often pulling in crowds that seemed more than a nod to their Southern League days.

The 3,000 or so souls who braved a winter's day to see them play Everton at Selhurst Park in the 90s remains a post-War low for the elite division.

Their biggest ever day was also as seriously unfancied makeweights of course - the Crazy Gang of 88 might as well have been a third tier side, such was the level of expectation the day they faced Liverpool at Wembley.

The front cover of the match programme had a picture from that great day proudly taking centre stage, and who can blame them?.

The Dons hosted a vibrant rematch against the Reds at Kingsmeadow a few years ago, when only the excellence of Steven Gerrard ended the Wombles' hopes. But being that underdog had been a joy. A natural state of affairs.

For once, they were the unloved big dogs given the task of puncturing the romance of the FA Cup as eighth-tier Ramsgate came to Plough Lane, hoping to summon up their own slice of Wimbledonesque glory.

"Ramsgate are massive everywhere they go," sang their very healthy contingent of 1,400 travelling supporters, who were determined to make the most of the club's first ever venture to this stage of the famous old competition.

But they could have done with a Dickie Guy, especially in the eighth minute, when defensive vulnerability was instantly punished by the unerring foot of skipper Jake Reeves.

Keeper Tom Hadler's scramble to keep out a deflected cross on 26 minutes only served to give Ali Al Hamadi a simple nod over the line and the hope was pretty much extinguished.

Josh Neufville added a third for the Dons before the interval after another failed attempt to contain Al Hamadi, who scored the fifth after Connor Evans had blasted in goal number four soon after the restart.

The Iraqi striker would have loved to stay on and go for his treble. It's not often you get days like these of Total Bullying. But boss Johnnie Jackson saw more wisdom in taking him off to conserve energy.

It will be back to more familiar territory in the third round for Wimbledon, when Championship high-flyers Ipswich Town pay a visit. The impressive Tractor Boys are on the rise and looking for back-to-back elevation up to the Premier League.

A chance to reclaim that 'Plucky Dons' status beckons.


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